NFL Rookie of the Year: Two is Company, Three’s a Mess

Opinion, Sports

The NFL Wild Card weekend is nearly upon us, and what a weekend it promises to be. Headlines are numerous going into the first week of the playoffs for the 2012 season, but one of the most notable stories is the fact that three teams that will be in action are led by rookie signal-callers.As you can imagine the three quarterbacks in question—Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson—have had outstanding seasons which have been the driving forces in their team’s success and playoff berths.

The feats that these players have achieved on the field have also led to each having valid arguments for the Offensive Rookie of the Year, leading to a large amount of confusion and unrest concerning who should come home with the award.

While there really is no clear-cut answer or way to determine who truly deserves this award, I took it upon myself to break down each of the three quarterback’s games from the 2012 as far as statistics are concerned to determine, at least for me, who the Rookie of the Year should be.

Below are the statistics for each player. The game highlighted in green represents what I feel was the player’s best game overall of the season; the game highlighted in red represents the player’s worst game overall:

Once I had each player’s statistics in front of me, certain glaring facts stood out to me. They are:

1) Andrew Luck had a great rookie season, as he broke the rookie passing yards record with 4,374 yards, but his precision is short from admirable. Luck was second-to-last in the NFL in completion percentage with 54.1%, just ahead of Jacksonville’s Chad Henne, who, keep in mind, did not play in every game for the Jaguars. Luck’s interceptions were also considerably higher than the other two candidates and in a league where every possession matters, cutting down on the number of times that you give the ball away is critical.

2) Robert Griffin III, on the other hand, was highly accurate in passing situations, ranking 4th in the entire league with a 65.6% completion percentage, behind only Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, and Peyton Manning. Griffin’s five interceptions is also the fewest among starting quarterbacks in the NFL, a very remarkable statistic considering how difficult the transition from facing college defenses (especially coming from the Big 12 like Griffin has done) to NFL defenses each week really is. While Griffin has proven that he is quick on his feet and can burn a defense when the chance presents itself, he also does not rely on scrambling out of pocket the way quarterbacks like Michael Vick, who many incorrectly try to compare Griffin to, do week in and week out. In fact, there were eight games this year in which Griffin rushed for 53 yards or less.

3) Although Wilson’s passing yards in most of his games were not exactly “breath-taking” (threw for under 200 yards in nine of his sixteen games), his ability to make the accurate throws and make defenses pay have him in the discussion for Rookie of the Year and gives his team a legitimate chance to make a deep playoff run. Wilson made it obvious in the closing weeks of the regular season that he can turn on the jets when the need arises, rushing for 179 yards and four touchdowns in the final three games of the year, all victories for the Seahawks.

With the numbers now available, I compared each player’s performance in their sixteen games (Robert Griffin missed his fifteenth game with an injury) game-by-game to determine who should be the rookie of the year. I admit that several weeks were toss-ups, but overall I believe that this process was fairly accurate.

Once I went through and compared each week’s performances, the final tally was as so:

Andrew Luck – 3 Best Performances: 2nd game, 3rd game, & 8th game

Russell Wilson – 6 Best Performances: 5th game, 6th game, 9th game, 14th game, 15th game, & 16th game

Robert Griffin III – 7 Best Performances: 1st game, 4th game, 7th game, 10th game, 11th game, 12th game, 13th game

With my analysis now complete, I can say that Robert Griffin III would be my vote for the 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year, although Russell Wilson gave him a real run for his money.

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