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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert showed crucial signs of growth in impressive Week 1 victory

Sep 12, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) prepares to pass the ball against the Washington Football Teamat FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

There were plenty of big storylines after the Los Angeles Chargers‘ 20-16 opening-week victory over the Washington Football TeamRyan Fitzpatrick‘s significant hip injury; Rashawn Slater allowing zero pressures against one of the best defensive lines in football; and the return of All-Pro Derwin James.

Somehow overlooked in the Chargers' hard-fought road win over a Washington team with playoff aspirations was the play of second-year QB Justin Herbert.

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Before the 2021 season, PFF’s Sam Monson ranked Washington as one of the NFL's five defenses. Washington had PFF's second-best defensive line entering the season and 11th-best secondary. Traveling across the country to face this type of defense was a serious Week 1 challenge. 

There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding Herbert this offseason, even after a decidedly impressive rookie season. Herbert had thrived in typically unsustainable situations, like passing under pressure. His overall efficiency was driven by big plays. And he was going through a fourth coordinator change in four years.

However, Herbert seemed to answer most of the offseason questions in just one game, even if the box score — 337 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 7.3 aDOT — doesn't jump out.

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