Chargers defend decision to play out returning Herbert in blowout loss to Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley insists that protecting star quarterback Justin Herbert was on his mind despite letting him play out Sunday's 38-10 blowout loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Herbert returned for the first time after a fracture to his rib cartilage, throwing 25 of 45 passes for 297 yards with one touchdown, one lost sack fumble and one interception, while Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence starred with three TD passes.

The Chargers' decision to keep their franchise quarterback on the field with 4:54 remaining for a final series, despite the scoreline and his recent injury, led to many questions from reporters after the game.

"He wanted to be out there with his teammates," Staley told reporters. "He felt good and he wanted to finish the game.

"Throughout the entire game, that's the first thought throughout the game and at the end of the game, so trust me, there's no one that's thinking about it more than I am."

Herbert, who was the sixth pick overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, sustained the rib injury 10 days ago in the 27-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs when he played on admirably in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.

"I understand your entire line of questioning, I understand it," Staley said.

"Justin is going to be feeling like this when he is out there playing. This injury is going to be there for awhile. If you guys know the injury, it's not like it's going to feel better next week or the week after that.

"This thing is going to be present for awhile. He felt good today and we're going to continue to manage it the best we can."

The 24-year-old quarterback also defended the decision, insisting it was him putting the team first.

"I just didn't want to quit on the team," Herbert said. "It's what the team needs. Sometimes, you have to put your own goals and everything ahead, or behind the team and I think that's what's most important and I felt like I was safe out there and I didn't want to quit on my team.

"I trust the medical staff. I trust the training staff. They are not going to put me in harm's way. I felt like it was safe, they felt like it was safe, so I was going to go out there and play."