Los Angeles Chargers Quarterback Justin Herbert Out for the Season

It's official. Following an index finger injury in Week 14's 24-7 loss to the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert will miss the remainder of the season. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo broke the news. Herbert laboured through six scoreless drives before his exit in Sunday's game, completing nine of 17 passes for 96 yards and an interception while absorbing four sacks. Easton Stick, Herbert's backup, proved a mild upgrade, leading one touchdown drive and ending his day with 179 passing yards. He's expected to start for the remainder of the season.

Now 5-8, the Chargers have clearly failed to capitalize on what had been an exciting offseason. First, they lured offensive coordinator and supposed wunderkind Kellen Moore away from the Dallas Cowboys. Then they signed Herbert to a colossal five-year, $262.5 million extension that briefly made him the highest-paid player in NFL history. Despite all that, the Chargers are poised to miss the playoffs for the third time in four years.

Herbert isn't completely without blame. His elite physical tools and sky-high potential have long obscured his actual effectiveness as a passer. Barring a spectacular finish to the season from Easton, the Chargers will finish outside the top 10 in points scored for the third time in the four years since Herbert was drafted. With a 30-32 record and a modest 6.41 net yards per pass attempt for his career, Herbert has clearly demonstrated he's not the calibre of quarterback that can elevate a mediocre roster. Not yet, anyway.

The Chargers need Herbert to bust through his current plateau. Unfortunately for the Chargers, they're running out of avenues to improve the talent around him. They're already fielding one of the NFL's most expensive receiving corps, and Moore was considered one of the league's truly elite playcallers after consecutive top-five finishes in points scored with the Cowboys in 2021 and 2022.

Herbert isn't going anywhere. The Chargers may have no choice but to make a radical change at the top of the organization. Head coach Brandon Staley earned his job because of his success as a defensive coordinator with the Los Angeles Rams, but he has failed to elevate the Chargers defense: they're on pace to finish in the bottom half of the league for yards allowed for the third straight season. Herbert will need more help from his D if the Chargers are going to compete for a championship

Photo Credit: © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports