Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert prepares to learn yet another new offense

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert runs during a game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Dec. 17.
(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)

Justin Herbert is still relatively inexperienced in the NFL, his career so far consisting of only 15 games.

But the 22-year-old quarterback is well-seasoned when it comes to coaching changes, something he and the Chargers are going through this offseason.

“Yeah, it would be great to have one playbook for my entire life,” Herbert said Thursday, smiling. “But that doesn’t look too likely after these past few years.”


During his time at Oregon, Herbert had three head coaches and two offensive coordinators. He already is working with his second head coach and offensive coordinator in the NFL.

Brandon Staley has taken over for Anthony Lynn, who was fired Jan. 4. Staley then hired Joe Lombardi to be his offensive coordinator, replacing Shane Steichen.

As the Chargers’ new offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi says he will build around Justin Herbert and apply what he learned during a doomed stint with the Detroit Lions.

Jan. 26, 2021

Herbert was a successful student in college, achieving a 4.0 grade average and, as a senior, winning the William V. Campbell Trophy, an award often referred to as the academic Heisman.

He said that background, along with a lesson from his father, Mark, should ease this latest transition to a new offensive system.

“One of the great things my dad taught me was taking care of school,” Herbert said. “If you really study and work hard, you’ll be able to pick up a lot academically. I think that applies to this.

“If you’re attacking it like school, looking at the playbook like school, you’re able to pick it up, learn it and test yourself. So when you go into the game, you know what you’re doing.”


Herbert certainly learned quickly in his first NFL season, taking over in Week 2 and putting together a performance worthy of honors.

On Thursday, he was presented with a rookie of the year award sponsored by Pepsi Zero Sugar.

“Just to be in the conversation was a huge honor to me,” Herbert said. “To actually win, it’s a tremendous honor. There’s a lot to look forward to here. It was a challenging year, but this means a lot.”

As the Chargers went 7-9, Herbert completed 66.5% of his passes for 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.

He also is the favorite to win the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year award, which will be presented Saturday.

The Pepsi award was determined by a fan vote.

“To have their support the entire year, week in and week out, that means a lot to us,” Herbert said. “When we start moving forward, having that support is really important to us.”


The overhaul of the Chargers’ staff includes the loss of quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton, who has been hired by the Houston Texans.

Herbert praised Hamilton throughout the season and did so again Thursday, specifically mentioning the post-practice work the two did starting in training camp.

“It got to a point where, ‘Coach, I want to go inside. We’ve been out here long enough,’ ” Herbert recalled. “And he’d say, ‘No, Justin, you don’t understand. This is what we have to do.’ I’m so thankful he did that now. He taught me a lot.”