The Chiefs aren’t likely to see Justin Herbert until late in 2020 against the Chargers.
The Los Angeles Chargers are going to look very different to the Kansas City Chiefs between the first and second times the teams face each other as AFC West rivals in 2020. The primary difference is very likely to be seen in the player under center.
The Chargers and Chiefs first square off in the second game of the season in Los Angeles, but then they wait nearly four months until their next match in the final game of the year—15 weeks later. At that point, it’s anyone’s guess as to who the Chargers will start at quarterback. For now, however, the safe bet is that Tyrod Taylor will be the QB suiting up to play the Chiefs early.
Daniel Popper of the Athletic recently tried his hand at guessing the active roster for the Chargers and he named Taylor the starter for “at least eight games.” That’s a long time to hold off the team’s brand new rookie, Justin Herbert.
“I think Taylor will start at least eight games this season,” writes Popper, “both because the Chargers are preaching patience above all else with Herbert, the No. 6 overall pick in last month’s draft, and because Herbert won’t get enough practice time before the regular season.”
The Chargers decided to use their surprise position near the top of the draft after a losing season to take their next franchise face. Philip Rivers was allowed to walk in free agency and he’s now the new leader of the Indianapolis Colts. In the wake of his exit, Tyrod Taylor has stepped up from his backup role to serve as a veteran leader who can mentor Herbert and handle things until he is ready.
This means the Chiefs aren’t likely going to see the big arm of Herbert in their first meeting and it’s entirely possible that Herbert sits all year long. Depending on what’s at stake in Week 17, the Chargers could have some intriguing choices to make. If the Chiefs have a postseason berth locked up (and perhaps even home field advantage), then they might host the Chargers with their second-string unit. That could be a safe play for Herbert to gain playing time.
Then again, it’s often hard for teams to remain patient with such high-level investments in the NFL. Many teams have thrown their rookie quarterbacks straight to the wolves and will continue to do so. Even this year, the Cincinnati Bengals have already said Joe Burrow is the starting quarterback despite the lack of offseason training activities.
It will be interesting to watch the quarterback battle play out for L.A. as they enter a new era of football. Will the Chiefs find themselves facing a familiar face in Taylor once or even twice? Can Herbert’s hype upset expectations and place him under center sooner than later? According to one reporter, the Chiefs should plan for Taylor in that important Week 2 matchup.