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5 questions with Bolts From The Blue: Is Justin Herbert the real deal?

Los Angeles Chargers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Another Sunday is quickly approaching, and the Jacksonville Jaguars will look to break out of its current five-game losing streak, as the team travels to the West Coast to take on the the Los Angeles Chargers. Both teams only have one win on the season, but it seems like the Chargers have all of the advantages in this game.

To get a better look into what Jacksonville is up against, we spoke with Michael Peterson of Bolts From the Blue — SB Nation’s website for all things L.A. Chargers.

Here is what we need to know:

1. Is Justin Herbert the real deal and somebody that Chargers fans have faith in for the future? Why or why not?

I’ll gladly admit that I was not high on Herbert being picked in the top-10 by the Chargers. I thought there was quite a gap between the top two passers (Joe Burrow & Tua Tagovailoa) and I would have preferred an offensive tackle at that spot. But now? I’m all in on Herbert and his future. Not only did he get thrown to the wolves way earlier than anyone expected, he’s exceeded just about every expectation we could have had for him. He’s been phenomenal against pressure and had his best performances against the two best defenses he has faced this season. You just don’t see that from a rookie quarterback, especially with a lackluster offensive line protecting him. As of right now, he’s shown nothing that that would make you think he is NOT the answer at quarterback for the Bolts.

2. The Chargers’ defense seems to give up a lot of yards through the air (273 yards per game), but is pretty stout against the run (107.6 yards per game). Should Jacksonville’s plan of attack on offense be the air raid, or do you think the run game can also be successful, and if so, how?

I think that’s a good way to go, to be honest, The secondary is missing a pair of starters and linebackers Kyzir White and Kenneth Murray are not coverage defenders. White alone has allowed over 240 receiving yards and a score over the past three games. The pass rush has been lacking with Melvin Ingram the past few weeks while defensive coordinator Gus Bradley continues to be conservative when it comes to blitzing (Editor’s Note: we know him well). The addition of Linval Joseph has helped improve the run defense but opposing offenses have had no issue finding the weak links at the second and third levels. If the Jags want to maximize their chance for a victory on Sunday, they’ll have to air it out.

3. What are the general feelings regarding Anthony Lynn and the coaching staff? He’s had success, especially in 2018, but went just 5-11 last year and is off to a 1-4 start in 2020? Is this still the right staff to lead the Chargers?

I don’t think Lynn has gotten a fair shake to show whether he is the sole issue or if it’s outside variables, like the avalanche of injuries the team has seen the past two seasons. In 2018, when the team went 12-4 and made the playoffs, the only major injury was tight end Hunter Henry (ACL) and Joey Bosa (missed nine weeks with foot injury). They also had a healthy Derwin James, which can’t be understated. As of their game against the Saints, the Chargers were missing 12 of their original 22 projected week one starters.

I understand the buck stops with the head coach, but Lynn also isn’t blowing these 17-point leads by himself. In the same way the Chargers fired former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt after a poor start to 2019, general manager Tom Telesco may have to consider if DC Gus Bradley’s defensive scheme is the right one for the Bolts. It’s a specific scheme that relies on big-time playmakers coming through on a repeated basis. Right now, there are too many injuries and he doesn’t have the plethora of talent he needs to make it work consistently.

Lynn is adored and respected by the team and everyone in the front office, but all those warm and fuzzy feelings will only last so long if they can’t turn this season around.

4. The Jaguars have struggled mightily on the West Coast. Do you think it is a built-in advantage for the Chargers (and other West Coast teams) when Eastern Time Zone teams fly in, and how do you think this affects Sunday’s game, if at all?

Personally, I think teams from the West Coast have more of a problem going east than when teams travel west. The Jaguars are just going to be playing a couple hours later than if they were still in Florida. It shouldn’t affect them at all. Both teams should be just fine when kickoff arrives on Sunday.

5. Who is a player on either side of the ball that Jaguars fans may not know about who can make an impact on Sunday?

On offense, I think that player will be wide receiver Jalen Guyton. He’s the fastest player on offense and the Chargers have shown the past few weeks that they want to push the ball downfield a bit more on shot plays. If he can get behind the defense, it’ll lead to a quick six.

On defense, I think cornerback Michael Davis may be a guy who doesn’t hold a ton of star power as of right now, but his play has been the best among everyone in the secondary. He has one of the Bolts’ two interceptions from a defensive back this year and also took his back for a touchdown against the Buccaneers.

6. Score prediction?

I think the Chargers finally get Herbert his first win as an NFL quarterback in a 27-17 victory over the Jaguars.

A big thank you to Michael for providing thorough thoughts and analysis. You can catch him on Twitter, and while you’re at it, follow Bolts From The Blue as well.

Additionally, be sure to check out my crossover piece on Bolts From The Blue.