Justin Herbert’s haircut, before and after: Did buzz cut jinx Chargers rookie into slump?

There’s something distinctive about a football player with long hair. A helmet obscures much of a player’s appearance, especially on further away broadcast angles, but if the hair is long enough, it makes a player stand out. Justin Herbert was that player.

The key word: “was.” Herbert got his haircut between Weeks 10 and 11, and not just any cut but a total buzz cut. He must’ve been five pounds lighter after having all that hair chopped off. At the time, it was a very viral Twitter moment, because Herbert also looked about a decade younger afterward. 

People could only speculate in mid-November whether Herbert would lose some of his dominant rookie passing mojo with the shortening of his hair. But that seemed silly, right? Hair doesn’t impact quarterback play. 

Tell that to Herbert’s stats before and after the haircut, which you’ll find below.

Why did Justin Herbert get a haircut?

Herbert showed up for his press conference on Nov. 18 with a haircut, totally out of the blue, so the media on that Zoom presser got in plenty of questions about it. Herbert said it was the first haircut he’d gotten since at least 2018.

Asked why he got the cut, Herbert said, “No particular reason. It was just time. It was getting too long.”

Herbert had his hair cut by Chargers strength and conditioning coach John Lott.

“He said he was good with the clippers,” Herbert said. “I think he did a good job.”

Justin Herbert’s stats, before and after haircut

Herbert wasn’t meant to start as early as he did this season, but an accidentally punctured lung for starter Tyrod Taylor pressed Herbert into action in Week 2, and he hasn’t relinquished the starting job since.

Justin Herbert stats, pre-haircut (Week 2 through Week 10)

Herbert’s pre-cut pace had him lined up to shatter rookie passing records. Baker Mayfield holds the rookie passing TD record with 27, and Herbert was two-thirds there in half a season. The Chargers were struggling to hold onto leads, but Herbert’s flowing locks had put Los Angeles in a lot of favorable positions before the running game couldn’t run down the clock. 

Pre-haircut Herbert held big leads on both Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Neither held, but the mojo was there.

Justin Herbert stats, post-haircut (Week 11 through Week 14)

At first glance, Herbert’s post-haircut stats don’t look that different besides a much worse touchdown-to-interception ratio. But there were two things working in Herbert’s favor in his first start after the cut: He was facing the Jets, and haircut mojo might take a while to kick in. So Herbert crushed the Jets with 366 passing yards.

Things weren’t as good against Buffalo and especially against New England (a 45-0 loss) before Herbert helped the Chargers beat the Falcons with two passing TDs in Week 14. 

Apparently, the long hair equaled lots of touchdowns. Either that or pre- and post-haircut stats are totally illegitimate, but you just read a whole article about that, so that can’t be it. 

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