Justin Herbert has already ascended to the bonafide elite tier of Deshaun Watson, both in Vegas MVP odds and in the eyes of the common fans.
He is exempt from Watson trade rumors…
Even in Houston, they think a Watson-Herbert swap is unfeasible.
Is this real life???
I say this as a fan of Watson and even more so as a hater of houston – this is a DREAM trade!
To put the true value into perspective, think of the mainstream frontrunners for Watson – the Miami Dolphins.
They’re supposed to unload a treasure chest of franchise altering draft picks that could potentially OP their roster.
And it still might be worth it!
But it would be way more worth it for the Chargers to just swap QBs, especially when there’s a chance when Watson alone improves the Chargers more than the Dolphins.
Metrics – YAC and Air Yards
If we’re really gonna compare Justin Herbert to Deshaun Watson, then it’s fair to give his ‘record setting rookie season’ a little more scrutiny.
Out of 35 eligible QBs, Herbert ranks in the bottom quintile in YAC yards vs air yards.
Watson and the Dolphins starting QB? Not so much…
More advanced metrics back this up, such as average separation yards where Miami’s two top targeted receivers – DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki – are ranked at 2nd and 3rd worst in the entire league.
The rest of the skill position players, including running backs, are Day 3 draft picks plus rookie 3rd rd pick Lynn Bowden (who played QB in college and is currently learning WR).
Only the Giants had more roster deficiencies on offense than the Dolphins last year.
It’s not a supporting cast that Watson fans should clamor to see him work with.
Chargers receivers didn’t do this…
And yet somehow the Chargers won much less.
Metric – QB Winz
Both Dolphins QBs – Fitz and Tua – deserve accolades for dragging that trash roster to the brink of the playoffs.
We can’t guarantee the same happens with Fitz and Herbert…
(Note that the Dolphins defense, while great most of the season, had a Canes-like tendency to fall apart against elite QBs.)
We can use the same methodology to conclude that two of Tua’s wins would’ve been definite losses under Herbert…
If Tua ever had a performance as poor as Herbert’s Pats-at-home shutout debacle, he would be untradable.
At the very least, do you think Deshaun Watson could improve upon these throws and score more than zero points?
And then we have the most interesting case study of the season. A head-to-head matchup from Week 10.
MIA 29 – LAC 21
H2H QB Analysis
I like Herbert. He’s an intriguing talent and it’s not fun to bash him.
But a deeper dive of this game makes it really hard to fathom how he’s exempt from Watson rumors.
It makes no sense.
Most people (understandably) didn’t watch this game. Luckily for them, I’ve cut it up in a way to efficiently and comprehensively see what’s up.
Throwing Metrics Breakdown
If screens and dump offs are your jam, then watching a full game of Justin Herbert is football porn…
The majority of Herbert’s throws were to wide open targets, half were short passes, and he had no tight window accuracy.
For Tua, it was the opposite in each regard.
A classic example of how basic passing stats don’t correlate strongly with QB Winz (and that’s without factoring for garbage time yards)
Film – Throws Watson Makes
Here is a sample of seven Herbert throws that don’t stand up to the caliber of Deshaun Watson…
Wide open misses, a brutal interception, hesitation, slow deliveries.
Spraying the ball around like that on 20% of your passing attempts is how games get lost. Tua would be excruciated for those throws.
Fortunately for the Dolphins, he never threw that poorly and that is how a tank-job offensive roster nearly made the playoffs.
Out of all ten incompletions that day, are any of them as bad as those any of those Herbert throws? I really don’t think so…
Watson definitely improves on some of those passes, but a better receiver improves just as many.
From looking at just the bad throws so far, the Chargers need Watson more than the Dolphins.
Film – Long Throws
Both QBs had the same number of 10+ yard completions at eight a piece.
However, to save time I omitted all the easy screen and dump off throws.
Here are all the passes that had to travel 10+ yards past the line of scrimmage before hitting a receiver…
No doubt – those two garbage time throws must’ve been pretty sweet on Red Zone, especially for all the over 48.5 bettors.
That one early play to a wide open Hunter Henry was pretty good too.
The rest of the film, oddly enough, was money throw after money throw by Tua.
Precision perfect accuracy on every pass he throws.
One QB looks far superior here and it’s not the one getting Watson comps.
Film – Scrambling and Intangibles
Finally, we have a cutup of all scrambles plus one bonus intangible play from that Sunday.
It’s safe to say that Watson’s elite mobility would improve both the Chargers and Dolphins equally.
Tua has the edge in quickness and elusiveness (despite coming off major hip surgery), while Herbert has the size advantage.
The bonus intangible play was Tua needing to save a defensive touchdown after the second botched snap of a single drive.
(If you remember from the completions video, he turned the first botched snap into a 3rd and long conversion).
It’s not just skill position players that need upgrading on that offense.
Do we really want to see Watson put up with more of this?
Conclusion – Dream Trade for Everyone
The evidence is overwhelming.
As a fan of Watson, a huge hater of Houston, and a fair-weather Miami fan that wants to see them actually contend for Super Bowls instead of just making the playoffs every year…
This is obviously a DREAM trade for me.
Everyone else, who I assume falls into that first ‘fans of Watson’ bucket, should root for this trade just as hard as me.
It’s the one team he could join with both ready-made weapons and an ability to keep building without sacrificing a crippling amount of draft capital.
Chargers fans should especially cheer for this.
Their offense would be absolute fireworks, and their defense will be fine if Bosa’s healthy and that new coach is half the guru people say.
They’d contend right away and they’d also get a check on Mahomes in the AFC West (while keeping Watson from going to Vegas or Denver).
And finally, NFL owners should be CLAMORING to make this trade happen.
They’ve been trying to conquer LA for decades, and now that elusive answer is right at their fingertips!
Spanos has the coup of the century in his grasp and he needs to act.
Get it done.