Rookie QB Rankings: Nick Foles of Eagles on top
- By Gregg Rosenthal
- Updated: Dec. 12, 2012 at 11:07 a.m.
Gregg Rosenthal watches every rookie quarterback snap and ranks them based on that week only.
I love writing this column because it forces me to watch some performances closely that I might have missed otherwise. The top performance this week was one of the most surprising showings of the season.
1. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Remember, the rankings are based on this week only. There was not a close second place to Foles' effort in the Eagles' 23-21 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He showed very promising signs in Dallas, but this effort will really grab the attention of decision makers in Philadelphia.
Foles' performance had some Andrew Luck-like characteristics. He was absolutely hammered by the Tampa pass rush, but kept firing. He showed terrific pocket movement to keep plays going. He made a number of "wow" throws on plays that looked over, especially on third down. He even scrambled for two key first downs and a touchdown. Foles had more passing yards (381) than the team had total yards. Think about that.
Down 21-10, Foles led two touchdown drives to win the game. He survived a fourth-and-5 and a third-and-14. He was 9-of-14 on third down. He made up a game-winning play. The Eagles will be a lot more interesting to watch down the stretch with Foles at the helm.
2. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
Greg Cosell of NFL Films pointed out that the Redskins are essentially running out the same concepts week after week and no one can stop it. This was a typical Griffin game. Early on, Washington cruised to two touchdown drives with great play-action passing in their 31-28 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
"Once again, a wide open wide receiver," Marv Albert said incredulously during the broadcast.
Griffin was actually less accurate than usual and suddenly the Redskins bogged down. They had only 6 points and less than 20-yards-per-drive for nine drives until the RG3/Kirk Cousins combo in the closing minutes. Lost in Griffin's injury: That run came on a second-and-19 where the team absolutely needed big yardage. Maybe it was worth it. It set up the win.
RG3 completed two huge, clutch throws after returning from the injury that set up Cousins to finish the job. Washington used very little zone-read concepts in this game and we didn't see a called quarterback run until late in the fourth quarter. The Redskins tried to protect Griffin, but they can only protect him so much.
3. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Weeden is still not great at going to his second or third read, but he's making progress. He showed off his arm strength on some nice out routes, and had another nice touch pass to Josh Gordon in the red zone. Weeden's chemistry with Gordon and Greg Little has improved.
The 30-7 romping of the Kansas City Chiefs was a very clean, accurate, 217-yard game from Weeden. His biggest problems are that he still is often late on throws and he continues to have a ton of passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. Overall, Weeden has rallied after a dip at midseason.
4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
I didn't know where to place Wilson because he barely had to do anything. His biggest play -- a 67-yarder to Anthony McCoy -- was on a blown coverage that anyone could have thrown. Wilson made a very nice touchdown pass to Zach Miller and a third and long conversion to Sidney Rice. Wilson also missed a few open throws and threw an interception in 13 attempts.
At one point, the Seahawks scored 28 points with only one passing first down during the stretch. The Seahawks are so good that they can win 58-0 over the Arizona Cardinals despite a quiet game from their quarterback.
5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
The pounding that Luck has taken all season might be catching up to him. This was one of his worst performances of the year, although it's tough to separate Luck's awful protection with his lack of accuracy. Still, he missed a ton of open throws throughout the game. I thought I might have been tough on him, so checked ESPN's QBR rating. He's ninth overall for the season, but was 30th in Week 14 for this performance.
Indianapolis' defense ultimately won this game, 27-23 over the Tennessee Titans-- setting the Colts up for 10 second half points -- but Luck still turned on his usual magic late in the game. His best plays were in the fourth quarter.
6. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Tannehill continues his up-and-down play late in the season, but his game wasn't nearly as bad as the numbers suggest. A 50-yard pass was dropped. As coach Joe Philbin pointed out, there wasn't a lot of separation created by the wide receivers. More importantly, the Dolphins marched on two very long drives and were down only one score with under five minutes left despite their special teams costing them a touchdown. This game didn't have a lot of plays.
The biggest concern is that Tannehill hasn't been quite as good dealing with pressure late in the season. His worst drive -- by far his most inaccurate stretch of the game -- was during Miami's chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. They ended up falling 27-13 agaisnt the San Francisco 49ers. Folks in Miami are panicking too much though about Tannehill.