Justin Herbert’s early Super Bowl hopes just received a hard blow at worst possible time

The Los Angeles Chargers naturally started star quarterback Justin Herbert’s second season with high expectations. Those who are skeptical may have felt better after the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year scored an impressive comeback victory over the Washington soccer team in Week 1.

No one is saying the team should give up their hopes of defeating Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs for AFC West supremacy. However, the Chargers have just received some brutal news that could derail Herbert and the offense at the wrong time.

Justin Herbert will be without right tackle Bryan Bulaga for at least three weeks

A young quarterback has the best chance of success when he has three things, four if you include his health. A competent head coach and strong offensive weapons are often – but not always – the deciding factor between following in Russell Wilson’s footsteps and ending up like Sam Darnold; one player considered merchandise damaged when the New York Jets traded it earlier this year.

Do you know what quarters also tend to benefit? An offensive line that can keep a young player upright and injury-free.

At least for now, Herbert will once again have to do without right tackle Bryan Bulaga. The Iowa product and veteran offensive lineman will miss at least the team’s next three games with a back injury. He only played 56% of the squad’s snaps in a Week 1 win over Washington before leaving with the injury.

Bulaga is no stranger to the injured reserve. He suffered a hip injury in 2012, his third year with the Green Bay Packers, and has had two ACL reconstructions since 2013. The Super Bowl 45 champion missed six games last year and left early. of five others.

At the time of publication, the Chargers had not announced who would start in the right tackle against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2. Storm Norton, a fifth-year offensive lineman from Toledo, could take the call.

Herbert could desperately miss Bulaga when he takes on the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3

Justin Herbert to be without right tackle Bryan Bulaga for at least three weeks | Rob Carr / Getty Images

Bulaga’s resume might not immediately scream someone who would be a major offensive loss. He’s an injury-prone straight tackle who has never made a Pro Bowl or been on an All-Pro team in his first 11 seasons.

This only counts the statistics, however. While it’s not Trent Williams who stands out from the San Francisco 49ers when it comes to name recognition or accomplishments on the back of the collectible card, Bulaga is a capable and competent offensive lineman on the pitch. . More importantly, he’s a veteran tackle for a prodigy quarterback.

If Bulaga misses just three games, he will stay away from winnable clashes against the Cowboys and Las Vegas Raiders. Luckily for Herbert, Dallas star passing thrower DeMarcus Lawrence entered the injured reserve with a foot injury ahead of Week 2’s showdown. While the Raiders’ defense is inconsistent, the veteran defensive end Carl Nassib could pose a problem in week 4.

In the middle of that streak, however, is the first of two regular season clashes with Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Chargers head to Arrowhead Stadium in Week 3, looking for a second straight road victory over their longtime rivals.

A Week 3 upheaval would go a long way in cementing the Chargers as legitimate AFC contenders this season. This is the type of game where all the hands, and maybe a few feet, are on the deck. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they will be without Bulaga and all of its members that afternoon.

Herbert will have to blame the Chargers over the next few weeks

There comes a time in the life of a young quarterback when he learns to carry a team despite everything that is happening on or off the field. Players like Russell Wilson and Joe Flacco overcame everything from mediocre offensive lines to lack of dangerous weapons, to keep their teams still contenders for the playoffs.

Now is the time for Herbert to join the club, and he is well on his way to doing so. He showed impressive poise in Week 1 and rallied his side to the win by not forcing deep throws in an early scoring goal. After an interception early in the fourth quarter, he joined Mike Williams for a 3-yard touchdown following the Chargers’ fumble recovery.

Herbert then devised a decisive workout where he methodically and safely moved the ball across the pitch for almost seven minutes. Washington never got the ball back and the Chargers went 1-0 in the process.

While Herbert can demonstrate the same confidence and intelligence over the next few weeks, don’t be surprised to see Bulaga regain his starting role in a 4-0 squad. That’s a lot to ask, but that’s why the Chargers picked their starting quarterback sixth overall last year.

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