Tyrod Taylor was a mysterious late scratch Sunday, leading to the standout NFL debut of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert.
The Chargers’ explanation that Taylor suffered a pregame chest injury left some unanswered questions, especially after head coach Anthony Lynn revealed that Taylor had to be hospitalized. Now we know more.
NFL Network reported Monday that Taylor suffered complications from a pregame pain management injection to address a lingering rib injury that had hampered him in practice during the week. Prior to the injection mishap, Taylor was planning to play against the Kansas City Chiefs while wearing a flak jacket, per the report.
Herbert shines, doesn’t win job
Taylor’s status for this week is unclear. Lynn’s plans when he’s healthy again are not.
Taylor is still the team’s starting quarterback. Lynn clarified that stance in Sunday’s postgame news conference.
“If he’s 100 percent ready to go, he’s our starter,” Lynn told reporters.
That decision is sure to disappoint some Chargers fans after Herbert looked more than ready to take over as an NFL starter.
Herbert was confident and aggressive against the Chiefs, completing 22 of 31 passes for 311 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He added 18 yards and a touchdown on the ground on four carries. He wasn’t afraid to mix things up against the Chiefs, leveraging his 6-foot-6, 236 pound frame as a runner.
The Chargers led most of the game before the Chiefs rallied to a 23-20 overtime win.
Lynn doubles down on Taylor as starter
The No. 6 pick in April’s draft and the future of the franchise under center exceeded any reasonable expectations in his debut against the defending Super Bowl champs.
But it wasn’t good enough for Lynn, who doubled down on his stance on Monday.
“There's a lot we didn't get done with Justin on the field yesterday,” Lynn said on Monday “He's a backup for a reason.”
“It’s not like we won the damn game yesterday. We lost.”
So was the bar for Herbert to win the job on Sunday perfection and beating Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in his NFL debut? He wasn’t perfect, of course. But he was outstanding and came oh-so close to leading his team to a stunning upset.
And he might have had a better chance had Lynn decided not to punt in overtime on fourth-and-1, giving the ball back to Mahomes needing only a field goal to win.
What is Lynn waiting for?
Taylor is a 31-year-old journeyman whose job description is clear: take care of the position until Herbert is ready to play.
While Sunday’s performance from Herbert demonstrated by almost any measure that he’s ready, Lynn disagrees.
Maybe Lynn’s beholden to the adage that players don’t lose their jobs because of injury. And for Taylor, who is likely on his last shot as a starter in the NFL, losing a job because of a faulty pregame injection would be a tough way to go out.
Or maybe Lynn sees something that the rest of us watching on Sunday don’t. Maybe there are signs in practice that point to Herbert not being ready to play, flying in the face of Sunday’s evidence otherwise.
If Taylor is not ready to go next week against the Carolina Panthers and Herbert shines again, Lynn’s stance will become increasingly suspect. And a brewing quarterback controversy will evolve to full-blown.
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