Find someone who loves you the way Bill Belichick loves Justin Herbert.
Before facing the Los Angeles Chargers last season, Belichick was effusive in his praise of the then-rookie quarterback, who was the sixth-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
“We talked about (Herbert),” Belichick said. “Obviously, where we were drafting and where he was picked was two different stratospheres.”
Belichick, whose sentiments were echoed by Josh McDaniels, added: “I thought a lot of him coming out, and have been impressed watching him play this year. He seems to get a little better each week as he gains more experience and more confidence and gets a better understanding of defenses and different problems that they try to present. He’s obviously young, got a long way to go, but you can certainly see the improvement and the talent. The Chargers are working with a good player here.”
The New England Patriots went on to earn a 45-0 win — yeah, Cam Newton’s Patriots did that. Herbert threw for just 209 yards while throwing two interceptions in one of the worst performances of his rookie campaign.
Herbert this season has been one of the best quarterbacks in football and has the Chargers at 4-2. Ahead of his team’s return to Los Angeles on Sunday, Belichick was asked why the Oregon product has enjoyed so much success so early in his career.
“It’s because he’s really good,” Belichick said Monday morning. “Yeah. He’s really good. I thought he was outstanding (in college). He just really had everything you?re looking for. He’s very athletic. Good arm. A lot of poise. Played well in Oregon. Just a number of big plays. All the passes. All the throws, but extended plays, scrambles, could run the read-zone and all that. He’s as good a quarterback as I?ve seen come out here in quite a while, especially as it fits the pro game. I don’t think you’re going to find too many better than him.
“This guy is really an impressive player. I thought he was really good when we played them last year, and, luckily, we had a pretty good day, but I’m not counting on that again. I have a ton of respect for him. I think he’s going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league for a long time to come.”
That’s high praise. And warranted.
Herbert this season is completing 65.4% of his passes while averaging just under 300 yards per game. The 23-year-old has thrown 14 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions and currently ranks as the sixth-best quarterback on Pro Football Focus.
He’s really good.
But the Patriots also have a promising young quarterback in Mac Jones, who played well Sunday in a blowout win over the New York Jets. In fact, Jones ranks 13th on PFF’s quarterback grades list.
Jones and Herbert will square off Sunday afternoon when the Patriots and Chargers kick off at 4:05 p.m. ET.