Patrick Mahomes drew legitimate Hall of Fame buzz just a few years into his NFL career thanks to a record-breaking start as the Chiefs' starting quarterback. But there's another AFC West signal-caller who's off to an even better statistical start to his career. With three touchdown passes in the Chargers' blowout win over the Giants on Sunday, second-year QB Justin Herbert eclipsed 30 scoring passes on the year, making him the first player in NFL history to throw at least 30 scores in each of his first two seasons.
That's right. Literally no one had ever topped 30 TD passes in their first two seasons before Herbert pulled it off on Sunday. Not even Mahomes would qualify if you removed his "redshirt" rookie year; he exploded for 50 TDs in 2018 but had just 26 the following year. The NFL has grown increasingly pass-heavy in recent decades, so it's not necessarily a feat that'll prove unbreakable. (Even Peyton Manning's record for scoring connections with a single pass target, which he deemed eternal upon retirement in 2015, is now under fire from Tom Brady.) But it proves just how far Herbert has come in a short amount of time.
Widely considered a polarizing selection by Los Angeles at No. 6 overall in 2020, the Oregon product won Offensive Rookie of the Year in his NFL debut, breaking the rookie record for TD passes with 31 and becoming just the fourth rookie QB in league history to top 4,000 passing yards. This year, Herbert has been just as good, if not better, for an 8-5 Chargers team vying for its first playoff appearance in three seasons. Through 13 games, he's got a nearly identical completion percentage and is already approaching 4,000 yards, with 30 TDs and 11 picks.