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Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley was drilled by the media on Sunday over his decision to continue to play injured quarterback Justin Herbert during the team’s blowout loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars – a decision he said Herbert made.
Staley defended the call to play Herbert through the entirety of the game, despite trailing by 28 late in the fourth quarter, saying the third-year signal caller “felt good” and was adamant about staying in.
“He wanted to be out there with his teammates. He felt good, and he wanted to finish the game,” Staley said.
“He wanted to give our group some energy. We were gonna protect him there at the end with really sound protection – as best we could, but it was more about him wanting to finish with his guys.
Herbert, 24, suffered fractured rib cartilage after a gritty game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 15. Staley said they weighed the decision up until the last minute and throughout the game.
“Trust me, there’s no one that’s thinking about it more than I am,” he responded when asked about him stepping in despite the quarterback’s wishes.
“That was just the decision that we made, and it was about us finishing that game as a team, and it was important to us that we did it.”
Staley continued to answer questions over the potential risk of keeping Herbert in but reiterated Herbert’s desire to finish the game out. He echoed that sentiment.
“I just didn’t want to quit on the team. Obviously a tough day for us, but I didn’t want to go out. I felt like we were getting the ball out quick. I didn’t want to quit on my team,” Herbert said during his post-game presser.
“Sometimes you have to put your own goals behind the team, and I think that’s what’s most important. I felt like I was safe out there. And I didn’t want to quit on my team.”
Staley said Herbert’s injury will continue to be monitored as they expect it will be sometime before he is 100% again.
“This injury is going to be there for a while … 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 a while.”