Rookie of the Year Race: Why RG3 deserves to win
- By Gregg Rosenthal
- Updated: Dec. 20, 2012 at 10:48 p.m.
I find myself wanting to argue about the Offensive Rookie of the Year race on Twitter far too often. Reading Twitter arguments is annoying.
So, let's break down the race here. After watching every rookie quarterback snap this year, I've thought way too much about this.
Honorable mention: Doug Martin, Matt Kalil, Ryan Tannehill
Martin has a better resume than at least half of the Offensive Rookies of the Year over the last 20 years. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back just got stuck in a season with three outstanding quarterbacks. Martin was incredible in October and November, but had a slow start and is finishing slow. He'll be a great starter for a long time.
Tannehill is a very promising prospect that is a lot better than his numbers indicate. Miami Dolphins fans should be excited. Kalil has come as advertised as a strong left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings from day one. But there's just no way he's winning this award. Sorry.
No. 3: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
I got a lot of grief on Thursday for listing Wilson significantly below Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III on the season-long quarterback power rankings. But those rankings evaluated the entire season. Not just the second half. That's why Wilson shouldn't win the OROY award.
The Seahawks hid Wilson for much of this season. Wilson was very low on the list of reasons Seattle was winning games early in the year. As quarterbacks go, he wasn't that big a part of the offense. They Seahawks brought him along slowly and kept adding elements as he could handle it.
"You can see now we are really playing offense with Russell," coach Pete Carroll said after last week's win. "For a long time, we were just trying to get our offense going and not screw it up."
In any other season, Wilson would win the award. He's been sensational overall. He's better in the pocket than early in the season and the team has mixed in zone-read plays very well. A strong case can be made he's the best rookie of the second half of the season. But this is Marshawn Lynch's offense, and Seattle's passing game was extremely limited for too long to give him the award.
No. 2 Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
I made the case for Luck over RG3 at midseason. I won't repeat the argument here, but it actually came before Luck's best stretch and Griffin's worst stretch of the season. Luck had my vote after nine weeks, but things have slowly slipped away since then.
Luck still does so many impressive things on a weekly basis. He's the best rookie at moving in the pocket before making plays. He's arguably the most valuable runner of all the rookies. His late-game heroics against the Detroit Lions were a lot of fun, but they were necessary because of Luck's mistakes. There's no denying that all the hits Luck has taken have caught up to him. His accuracy has suffered and he's turned the ball over a ton in part because he's so aggressive. The Colts push the ball down the field. It's a high-risk, vertical offense.
Interim coach Bruce Arians threw Luck into the deep end of the pool right away. Unlike the Seahawks, the Colts are not afraid to screw it up. With a lackluster offensive line and defense, Luck has a lot on his shoulders. He also has an underrated supporting cast with Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen and Vick Ballard. It's a young group, so there are bound to be ups and downs. Despite the victories, Luck has not played his best over the last month.
That leaves ...
No. 1 Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
Yes, he missed a game. He still deserves the award if he finishes out the final two games well. Forget the rookie class: There's barely a quarterback in the league that is steadier than RG3. The Redskins roll out the same concepts week after week and defenses can't stop them. There are some very well-paid quarterbacks that go an entire career without steady, disciplined weekly play. (Jay Cutler, Tony Romo and Michael Vick come to mind.) You know what you are going to get out of Griffin each week.
He is going to be accurate, make smart decisions, and break off a few explosive plays. He'll hurt you with his legs when he needs to. ESPN's Steve Yong remarked that the Redskins don't ask Griffin to do too much in terms of his reads and progressions yet. Young suggested this was a "bridge" offense to what Griffin will run in future years. That's not something voters should hold against Griffin; it's good coaching.
Griffin has done everything the Redskins have asked. He's the biggest reason why the Redskins are the fifth-highest scoring team in the league. Wilson and Luck have both been terrific, but Griffin's individual play has been more consistent overall. There are some peaks, valleys or "rookie mistakes."
This class has a chance to go down as one of the greatest of all-time. For this year, Griffin leads the pack.