The Buffalo Bills will head west to play the Los Angeles Chargers on December 23, but when they do they will see backup quarterback Easton Stick under center instead of the team’s franchise QB1, Justin Herbert.
Herbert suffered a fractured index finger on his throwing hand Sunday in a 24-7 loss to the Denver Broncos. On Tuesday, the 25-year-old quarterback out of Oregon underwent season-ending surgery.
Now official: Chargers’ QB Justin Herbert is undergoing season-ending surgery today on the fractured right index finger he suffered Sunday, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 12, 2023
Herbert’s injury came when he was hit by Broncos defensive end Zach Allen in the second quarter of Sunday’s game at So-Fi Stadium. Despite the hit, Herbert was able to complete a pass to tight end Donald Parham on the play. However, it immediately became obvious that something was wrong as the fourth-year quarterback was seen inspecting his hand.
While he stayed in the game for the duration of that drive — during which he had one completed pass, one incomplete, and a sack for a 6 yard loss — Herbert went to the locker room after the Chargers turned the ball over on downs, and he never returned.
Herbert, who was the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, finishes his 2023 season with 3,134 yards, with 20 touchdowns spread over 297 completions and 13 starts. He also has another 228 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Herbert turned the ball over eight times (seven interceptions and one lost fumble — although he had another three fumbles that the Chargers were able to recover).
Easton Stick came in to replace Herbert Sunday and threw the ball 24 times over the second half of the game. However the 28-year-old backup quarterback only completed 13 of those attempts for 179 yards. He also fumbled the ball twice, losing it once. Stick has only been in an NFL game one other time during his five years in the league. Back in 2020, he completed one pass (albeit he only had one attempt, so technically he was perfect there) for four yards.
While the Chargers, at 5-8 — sitting behind both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos — are not truly in the hunt for a playoff spot, it could be a long four weeks for Stick and Los Angeles.
Following news about Herbert’s season-ending designation, the Chargers signed rookie quarterback Max Duggan to the active roster from their practice squad. Duggan played college football at Texas Christian University.
Justin Herbert becomes the latest marquee quarterback to be lost in a season featuring far too many significant injuries to perhaps the ultimate team sport’s most important single position.