Justin Herbert took the NFL by storm in his first year, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year and establishing himself as one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the league. Now, he’s out to prove that he can be an MVP-caliber player for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Through the first six games of the 2021 season, Herbert has completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 1,771 yards and 14 touchdowns. Any concerns about him having a “sophomore slump” have been put to rest to say the least.
Not only is Herbert taking his game to the next level this fall, the Chargers are showing signs of being a contender in the AFC.
We sat down with Justin Herbert to discuss his second season in the NFL, why this year is different for the Chargers, representing Team Milk and much more.
This interview is presented by GonnaNeedMilk.com.
— Milk (@GonnaNeedMilk) September 1, 2021
The Spun: Tell me about your partnership with Got Milk. What does it mean to be a part of Team Milk?
Justin Herbert: It’s an awesome opportunity and it’s a partnership that feels genuine and authentic because I’ve been drinking milk long before this. It’s something I grew up on. It has helped me and been a staple of my diet. So when they came to me, I thought it was a great opportunity.
The Spun: I see you’re taking down drones in your spare time. What was it like putting that video together?
JH: It was unreal. When they came to me with that idea, I was like ‘If that’s what you guys want to do, I’d love to hit some drones out of the air.’ It was awesome. It was pretty tough, though, since they were pretty far away. Hitting drones out of the air with a football is not an easy task, but it was a lot of fun.
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The Spun: Does your routine and diet change going from college to the pros?
JH: I think you learn and you perfect your craft. That’s something I’ve addressed over the past couple of years because your body is so important in football. For me, personally, milk has been a staple of my diet and something that has helped me perform to my best. But you need to find out what works for you, like stretching, hot and cold tubs, and so many other methods. It’s a physical game and you need to find a way to get through those physical hits.
The Spun: How has your relationship been with Brandon Staley in Year 1?
JH: He’s been awesome. As soon as he was hired, 30 minutes after, I received a FaceTime call from him and was able to communicate about everything going on. He emphasizes relationships and building trust with everyone in the organization. He’s the same guy you see in the media room. He has the respect of all our teammates and he’s a coach that you want to play for and fight for. It has been a lot of fun playing for him.
The Spun: The Chargers have been super aggressive on fourth down this season. Does that build up confidence for the offense?
JH: I think it’s a trust thing. It’s about going into the huddle and knowing we got the right guys and the right play calls; it’s just about executing. As an offense, we need to go out there and get the first down. And at the same time, we have trust in the defense knowing they’ll come up with the stop [if we don’t convert]. It’s a three-phase game, and when everybody is playing well, we play some really good football. It means a lot to the offense knowing Coach Staley believes in us like that, and I know our offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi, feels the same way.
Justin Herbert on 3rd/4th down this season:
🚀 92.4 PFF Grade (1st)
🚀 34 First Down completions (1st) pic.twitter.com/sCOuUjhYXb
— PFF (@PFF) October 16, 2021
The Spun: What is it like playing at SoFi Stadium in front of the fans this season?
JH: It’s unreal. To be able to play every home game in such an incredible stadium is awesome. Sometimes, you got to pinch yourself just to realize you’re playing in one of the best stadiums in the world. They’ve [Chargers fans] taken such great care of us, and we know every home game they’re going to come out and support us.
The Spun: The Chargers were on a roll heading into Week 6 before losing to the Ravens. What was the message heading into the bye week?
JH: You have to learn from it. Obviously, it was a tough game and that’s going to happen in the NFL. They had our number and we didn’t execute the way we needed to, but we have to learn from it. We need to watch the film, and as tough as it may be, we need to find ways to build off that game. We now have time to rest and get back to full strength, but we also need to make sure we’re prepared for the New England Patriots this upcoming weekend.
The Spun: Last year’s matchup against the Patriots didn’t go that well. What is it about Bill Belichick’s defense that makes things so challenging?
JH: One of the great things he has done over the past few years is that he switches all his looks up. He is never going to play the same defense or same coverage. You need to look back 5-10 years just to see a certain blitz pressure that he’s going to bring. He’s so smart and he knows exactly what he’s doing, so you need to watch as much film as you can. You also need to go out there and be able to react quickly to what Belichick’s defense brings. It’s definitely a tough task.
Justin Herbert was a PROBLEM at Oregon 🦆🔥
Relive some of his best CFB highlights pic.twitter.com/3W5dWqkrKe
— Bleacher Report CFB (@BR_CFB) October 23, 2021
The Spun: I’ve seen a lot of fans ask, ‘Why didn’t we see this version of Justin Herbert at Oregon?’ What is your response to that question?
JH: That’s a tough question – I have thought about it too. I feel like over the past couple of years I have gotten better and have worked a lot harder on my game. A lot of the time spent with Shane Day and Pep Hamilton has helped me learn and work on the fundamentals. I think the coaching staff at Oregon did an incredible job, but I think the work I have put in the past couple of years is super important as well.
The Spun: Which quarterbacks do you like to study?
JH: That’s a good question. I think prior to the draft I spent a lot of time watching Matt Ryan, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. A lot of the footwork, the things they were able to do in the play-action passing game, the quick game, and the five-step drop – I think it was really helpful to be able to study their games.
🚨 Justin Herbert haircut 🚨 pic.twitter.com/W5r9U25VAz
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 18, 2020
The Spun: Last season, the NFL world lost its mind when you cut your hair. Were you surprised by that reaction?
JH: In hindsight, I didn’t think it was going to generate such a big reaction. But if they were going to talk about my haircut instead of our record at the time, I’d gladly make that sacrifice.
The Spun: There’s so much talk about where certain quarterbacks rank in the league. Do you ever use that as motivation, or do you just tune it out?
JH: I do my best to stay away from it. I think it’s a lot of noise, and I think one of the things you need to learn in the NFL is who to trust and who not to listen to. I put a lot of importance into what my family, friends and coaches say. If it’s on the outside, though, I try to block it out.
The Spun: Who’s the biggest trash talker on defense that you’ve gone up against?
JH: Ndamukong Suh was a good trash talker. He was one of those guys during the game who was really tough because he made so many plays. After the game, I gave him a hug and wished him good luck. He was super nice, too. I really enjoyed playing against him.
JUSTIN HERBERT DIME TO KEENAN ALLEN 🍿
— PFF (@PFF) October 10, 2021
The Spun: What is different about this year’s Chargers?
JH: I think one of the tough parts about the NFL is that every game is going to come down to the two-minute drill. More times than not, it’ll come down to that. You need to find ways to win the game. You’ll never really blow out a team, but you need to know how to put the game away. I thought last season we started learning how to handle that. And now, I think you’re starting to see that we can put away games.
The Spun: Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said ‘Justin Herbert is one of those guys who can throw a strawberry through a battleship.’ Have you ever heard of that phrase before, and what’d you think about that?
JH: I actually did. As long as he meant it in a nice way, I’ll take it. I have a ton of respect for his defense and scheme.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) October 14, 2021
The Spun: Have you been able to speak to this year’s rookie quarterback class, and do you have any advice for them?
JH: I was actually pretty close with Zach Wilson – we had the same quarterback coach. He’s extremely talented. I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from him so far. The NFL is a tough place to be in, especially at quarterback. All you can do is your best in the film room, at practice, and on the field on Sundays. You also need to treat people the way you want to be treated. All those things are super important.
The Spun: How do you feel about your Oregon Ducks heading into November?
JH: I really believe in the Ducks. Coach Cristobal and those guys – I’m super close with them and I think very highly of them. I’m going to root them on for the rest of the year and I’m really excited to see where they end up.
The Spun: Do you have any particular goals you want to accomplish when your career is all said and done?
JH: I think most of the goals aren’t statistical. I think it’s more so helping my team be the best team it can be each season. If you do everything right in the film room, weight room, and at practice, I think you’re going to go very far. We’ve seen that with the Chargers so far. We spent so much time working together this offseason, and now, it’s showing up on the field. It’s all about building off that. I think at the end of the day, that’s the ultimate goal.
This kid Justin Herbert…
— NFL (@NFL) October 5, 2021
With Brandon Staley at the helm and a star-studded supporting cast around him, Justin Herbert should be must-see TV for years to come.
Herbert will have a chance to showcase his development this Sunday against the Patriots.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.