• As safe as they come: Despite his incredible tools, Herbert’s most amazing skill is his penchant for avoiding turnovers. In fact, he is the best quarterback at avoiding them in the history of PFF.
• How safe is too safe? Since 2006, the Chargers QB ranks just 59th among 91 qualifying quarterbacks in big-time throw rate.
• The obvious next step: Herbert is already elite at avoiding turnovers. If he can find a way to sustain that while leaning into his explosive tools more often, he will rise even higher among the game’s elite quarterbacks.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
A quarterback built in a lab would look like the Los Angeles Chargers signal-caller. He is 6-foot-6 and has a howitzer arm. He possesses above-average mobility and boasts a high football IQ. He has succeeded despite an inconsistent running game, an offensive line that ranks 23rd in the NFL in pass-blocking grade since 2020 and some game management that has been questionable at best. But Herbert has succeeded anyway.
Highest-graded quarterbacks over their first three seasons in the NFL (since 2006, postseason included)
|Quarterback||Snaps played||Passing grade|
Despite his incredible tools, Herbert’s most amazing skill is his penchant for avoiding turnovers. In fact, he is the best quarterback in the history of PFF at avoiding them.
Lowest turnover-worthy play percentages since 2006 (min. 1,000 dropbacks, postseason included)
|Rank (among 91 QBs)||Quarterback||TWP%|
We see three distinct categories of quarterback here: all-time greats (Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers), possible all-time greats (Herbert and Joe Burrow) and so-called “game managers” (Tyrod Taylor and Alex Smith).
There also isn’t a specific way to force Herbert into turnovers. He owns the lowest turnover-worthy play rate against the blitz. He’s second behind Brady against a standard pass rush. Clean pockets and pressure situations don’t seem to matter to him. Single-high, two-high or any coverage that defenses throw at him doesn’t seem to force him into turnovers.
Avoiding turnovers is one of the most important skills a quarterback can possess, but is Herbert too safe with the ball? Because since 2006, he ranks just 59th among 91 qualifying quarterbacks in big-time throw rate.
Big-time throw percentages since 2006 (min. 1,000 dropbacks, postseason included)
|Rank (among 91 QBs)||Quarterback||BTT%|
It’s somewhat shocking to see Herbert’s name lumped in with a group of backups. It seems that either Herbert or his team aren’t taking full advantage of his supreme arm strength, and a look at his big-time throw percentage next to the names in the first table shows the contrast.