Predicting Every NFL Starting QB's Final Stats for 2012
The NFL has quickly become a league driven by quarterbacks. We've seen unprecedented statistics in recent years, including three players throwing for over 5,000 yards just last season.
The 2012 season will continue this trend of being a pass-first, pass-second and think-about-run-third league. In fact, it's possible that we could see a number of NFL records drop this year.
Here are 2012 stat predictions for every probable NFL starting quarterback.
John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals
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I'm predicting John Skelton to win the starting job for the Arizona Cardinals. That means the Cardinals will probably have a difficult year due to the lack of overall talent that Skelton possesses.
If there is one good thing about Skelton, it is his ability to find Larry Fitzgerald. This offense is going to need to run through Fitzgerald, and Skelton is much better at making that happen than Kevin Kolb.
However, there are far too many other holes on this roster, and the triceps injury to Levi Brown will prove too costly for this team. Look for Skelton to struggle throughout the season and have difficulty leading the Cardinals to many wins.
Final 2012 Stats: 56 Percent Completion Rate, 3,672 Yards, 19 TDs, 23 INTs
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
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There are simply too many weapons surrounding Matt Ryan for him to not have a career year. With Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, the Atlanta Falcons might have one of the best passing offenses in the entire league.
Also helping Ryan's numbers will be the likely decline of Michael Turner. Turner has a lot of tread on his tires, and the Falcons will need to transition more of the offense away from him and over to Ryan.
With the NFC South looking like the most pass-happy division in football, Ryan and the Falcons should find themselves in a number of shootouts. This will ultimately lead to Ryan having one of the better seasons in the NFL.
Final 2012 Stats: 63 Percent Completion Rate, 4,415 Yards, 32 TDs, 15 INTs
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
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For the past few seasons, Joe Flacco has been trying to establish himself in the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the NFL. He hasn't been successful yet, and he'll once again struggle to separate himself from the pack this year.
It isn't that Flacco is a bad quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, because he really isn't. He manages games well, rarely makes mistakes and constantly puts his team in a position to win. The problem is that he isn't the engine that makes the offense go like a Drew Brees or Tom Brady.
The Ravens are going to rely on the legs of Ray Rice this year, and that means Flacco will once again be a middle-of-the-pack quarterback in 2012. His statistics may improve a little because of the big-play ability of Torrey Smith, but don't expect him to become a top-tier quarterback this year.
Final 2012 Stats: 61 Percent Completion Rate, 3,891 Yards, 22 TDs, 11 INTs
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills
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As much as I'd love to predict Ryan Fitzpatrick to have a better year, I simply can't do it for two reasons: the receivers and the running backs.
The Buffalo Bills have Stevie Johnson at receiver, but other than him, the position remains a complete unknown. In fact, the No. 2 receiver position has been the biggest training camp battle for the Bills, and that isn't a good thing for Fitzpatrick.
There is also too much talent in the backfield. Both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller deserve as many touches as they can get, which will take away opportunities for Fitzpatrick.
This could ultimately be a good thing for the Bills. In order to get to the playoffs, they need the ball in the hands of their best players. That's Jackson and Spiller, not Fitzpatrick.
Final 2012 Stats: 60 Percent Completion Rate, 3,679 Yards, 22 TDs, 18 INTs
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
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Cam Newton is coming off an historic rookie season for the Carolina Panthers last year. This year won't be quite as amazing statistically, but he'll improve as a player, and the Panthers will improve as a team.
With DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert in Carolina's backfield, Newton will likely be handing the ball off more frequently this season than he was last season. This will cut down his passing yards, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
However, look for Newton to become more confident in the pocket this year as a passer. This will decrease the mistakes he makes and increase his overall passing touchdowns.
The Panthers look like a team poised to break out in 2012, and if they actually do, the reason will be because of Newton's development as a quarterback.
Final 2012 Stats: 63 Percent Completion Rate, 3,989 Yards, 26 TDs, 17 INTs; 537 Rushing Yards, 8 TDs
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
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It all starts with his old target, Brandon Marshall. Cutler had the greatest year of his career when Marshall was his No. 1 receiver, and he'll get close to putting up those numbers again this year.
What makes the Bears offense and Cutler even scarier, however, are the weapons behind Marshall on the roster. Rookie Alshon Jeffery has looked great throughout the preseason, and free-agent addition Michael Bush should also help this offense.
The Bears look poised to make a run at not only the NFC North, but the entire conference. A big reason for that will be the play of Cutler.
Final 2012 Stats: 61 Percent Completion Rate, 4,370 Yards, 28 TDs, 16 INTs
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
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No one expected Andy Dalton to lead the Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs last year, but that is exactly what he did. It wasn't always pretty, but Dalton proved to be a capable winner in his first year in the NFL.
The 2012 season for Dalton could look fairly similar to his 2011 season. He'll still struggle at times pushing the ball down the field, but with A.J. Green on the roster, the Bengals will have to take those chances. That is where Dalton's low completion percentage and increased interceptions will come into play.
Even though Dalton might not have a top-20 season for a quarterback, the Bengals should still be one of the more competitive teams in the AFC.
Final 2012 Stats: 58 Percent Completion Rate, 3,678 Yards, 23 TDs, 17 INTs
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
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Let me start by stating that I ultimately believe Brandon Weeden will be a good, but not great quarterback in the NFL. That just won't happen this year. Maybe not next year either.
It isn't entirely Weeden's fault, as the Cleveland Browns simply don't have the polished receivers that a rookie quarterback needs to be successful. Just look at who Andrew Luck's No. 1 receiver is and then try and tell me that Reggie Wayne and Greg Little are in the same class.
Weeden is going to have a hard time because Little, Josh Gordon and Mohamed Massaquoi aren't going to give him much help yet. However, in a few years, Weeden could lead this group of receivers to respectability.
That potential just won't be reached this year.
Final 2012 Stats: 56 Percent Completion Rate, 3,112 Yards, 18 TDs, 24 INTs
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
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Tony Romo has been on the fringe of putting together a truly exceptional campaign for the past few seasons, but he has come up short frequently.
This year he'll inch a bit closer, but uncertainty at wide receiver will keep him just short again. That uncertainty isn't due to a lack of talent, but injuries and off-field issues will keep them from playing as well as they could.
However, through all of this, Romo will still notch his highest single-season touchdown mark. The Dallas Cowboys will be thrilled, and Jerry Jones will adopt Romo as his own child.
Oh, and the team will win the NFC East.
Final 2012 Stats: 66 Percent Completion Rate, 4,678 Yards, 33 TDs, 10 INTs
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
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For starters, Manning doesn't have the receiving corps in Denver that he has had with the Indianapolis Colts. Both Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker have potential, but they have yet to prove themselves as dependable targets.
I'm also not convinced that the Broncos will turn into a team that passes 75 percent of the time like the Colts were when Manning was at the helm. They'd be better off moving the ball on the ground, using their many running backs and letting Manning sit back and make big plays when needed.
I still believe the Broncos will win the AFC West, I just don't think they'll do it solely based on Manning's arm.
Final 2012 Stats: 63 Percent Completion Rate, 3,814 Yards, 28 TDs, 16 INTs
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
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With no running game expected from the Detroit Lions this year, I'm expecting Matthew Stafford to throw the ball quite a bit. Most of those throws will be in the direction of Calvin Johnson, which explains Stafford's 44 projected touchdowns.
The key to this projection is the health of Detroit's young quarterback. As long as Stafford plays his second straight 16-game season, the Lions will have a great shot at making back-to-back playoff appearances.
It's an exciting time to be a Lions fan due to the abilities of their young stars like Stafford and Johnson. Honestly, I never thought those words would come out of my mouth.
Final 2012 Stats: 63 Percent Completion Rate, 4,846 Yards, 44 TDs, 19 INTs
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
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I don't think there are many who would argue against Aaron Rodgers being the best quarterback in the NFL right now. However, being the best at a position doesn't always mean having the best statistics at that position.
That is the situation that Rodgers finds himself in heading into the 2012 season. Last year, the Green Bay Packers had one of the best passing attacks in the league. They certainly have the weapons again this year, but they might not rely on the pass as much.
Green Bay brought in Cedric Benson late in training camp, and he has made quite the presence in limited preseason action. He'll be a big part of the offensive game plan, which will take away from Rodgers' overall statistics.
The one area he will improve is on his touchdowns, simply because he'll play all 16 games this season. This year won't be as impressive as last year, but it will still be one of the best overall performances in the league.
Final 2012 Stats: 67 Percent Completion Rate, 4,237 Passing Yards, 48 TDs, 10 INTs
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
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Few quarterbacks in the league have been as underrated as Matt Schaub since coming to Houston in 2007. Until recently, Schaub has been the key to the Houston Texans having any success.
However, with the emergence of Arian Foster, Schaub was forced to take a backseat in the offensive game plan. He still has weapons like Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels to throw to, so he won't even be in the lower half of the league as far as statistics.
With that said, he also won't be in the top 10 of passing quarterbacks. He'll have a solid but unimpressive season as Foster continues to be the focal point for the Texans.
Final 2012 Stats: 64 Percent Completion Rate, 3,849 Yards, 27 TDs, 11 INTs
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
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Few rookie quarterbacks have ever been as hyped as Andrew Luck. Through his first four games of the preseason, he hasn't disappointed.
He's looked every part of the franchise quarterback that the Indianapolis Colts desperately needed to replace Peyton Manning. What will hold Luck back his first year is the talent that is currently surrounding him in Indianapolis.
Sure, he has Reggie Wayne and Coby Fleener, but other than that, the Colts are pretty thin in their receiving corps. He'll still have one of the most productive rookie seasons in the history of the NFL, but those expecting him to surpass Cam Newton's 2011 rookie season will be disappointed.
The good news for the Colts is that Luck will begin moving them in the right direction from his first regular-season snap.
Final 2012 Stats: 61 Percent Completion Rate, 3,662 Yards, 24 TDs, 18 INTs
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
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After an unimpressive rookie season, Blaine Gabbert looks much better in his second preseason than he did at any point in his first season.
For starters, Gabbert no longer appears scared out of his mind of defensive pressure. He is willing to stay in the pocket and take a hit to make a throw—something he rarely did last year. This shows the mental development that Gabbert has made from Year 1 to Year 2.
On top of that, Gabbert also has some new toys to play with this year. Both Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson will go a long way to improve one of the worst receiving corps in the league.
Gabbert still has a long way to go to being a franchise starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but all signs point to him moving in that direction during the 2012 season.
Final 2012 Stats: 53 Percent Completion Rate, 2,835 Yards, 18 TDs, 16 INTs
Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs
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Kansas City isn't going to depend on Cassel to lead this team to a division title. Instead, they'll hope Jamaal Charles is back to full strength and Peyton Hillis gets back to his 2010 ways to lead the offense. Cassel will be the third option for the Chiefs, and he will struggle in that role.
While he has a great core of players surrounding him in Kansas City, I'm just not convinced that Cassel is the long-term answer for the Chiefs.
Final 2012 Stats: 56 Percent Completion Rate, 3,011 Yards, 23 TDs, 19 INTs
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
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There is no doubt that the Miami Dolphins made the right decision in making Ryan Tannehill their starting quarterback for at least the beginning of the 2012 season. It might not seem that way at times, as Tannehill is going to struggle mightily this year, but this was the right move.
He has all the tools needed to be successful in this league; it'll just take time for him to acclimate to the professional game. It also doesn't help that his receivers are less than spectacular.
Look for Tannehill to show flashes of his potential. It will be enough for the Dolphins to stick with him and commit to getting him some real weapons for the 2013 season.
Final 2012 Stats: 54 Percent Completion Rate, 2,652 Yards, 15 TDs, 23 INTs
Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
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These two occurrences will make Ponder's sophomore campaign much easier. With Peterson healthy, the Vikings can go back to being a run-first team. When they do decide to pass, Ponder will have an electric player to throw to in Harvin.
He'll also have two solid tight end options in Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson as safety valves. It won't be an overly impressive season by any means, but it will definitely surprise a ton of people.
While the Vikings will certainly still be in rebuilding mode following this year, they'll have another position completely solidified with Ponder.
Final 2012 Stats: 59 Percent Completion Rate, 3,376 Yards, 25 TDs, 18 INTs
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
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Yes, I'm predicting Tom Brady throws the most touchdowns in a single season in NFL history. However, when you look at the options that Brady has to throw to this year, 51 touchdowns doesn't seem that crazy.
Not only does Brady have his usual trio of Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker, but the New England Patriots also added Brandon Lloyd this offseason. Those four players will prove to be impossible for defenses to cover, and Brady will utterly destroy every defense he faces in the regular season.
This season will go down as one of the greatest in the history of the NFL as the Patriots and Brady cruise through the regular season.
Final 2012 Stats: 65 Percent Completion Rate, 5,307 Yards, 51 TDs, 14 INTs
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
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Until Drew Brees calls it quits, he'll be considered one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The 2012 season will only further his status as a future Hall of Fame quarterback, but it won't quite match his 2011 campaign.
The most difficult part for Brees this year will be dealing with all the off-field issues. While he may appear to be handling it well, it would be nearly impossible for there not to be some repercussion from everything that happened to the New Orleans Saints.
He's sure to feel the loss of a reliable target in Robert Meachem. It will still be an incredible season for Brees as he leads the Saints back to the playoffs, but there will be a slight drop-off in production.
Final 2012 Stats: 69 Percent Completion Rate, 5,148 Yards, 42 TDs, 15 INTs
Eli Manning, New York Giants
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Coming off a Super Bowl victory is going to do wonders for Eli Manning in 2012. He's already coming off the best season of his career, but he'll easily better that mark this year.
Last year, we saw the New York Giants depend on Manning more than ever. He attempted the most passes of his career and consequently threw for the most yards in his career. The Giants will continue to rely on Manning to make them winners this year, and he'll reward them with the best season of his career.
Final 2012 Stats: 60 Percent Completion Rate, 5,052 Yards, 36 TDs, 14 INTs
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
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However, let's focus on how much Sanchez is going to struggle this year. He's looked completely terrible in his preseason games.
To add to his troubles, Santonio Holmes looked rusty in his lone preseason game and Stephen Hill appears to be a major project. On top of that, he still has Shonn Greene as his starting running back, which won't take away any pressure.
All of this will make for a disastrous 2012 season for Sanchez, and the end of the season could be the last time we see him in a Jets uniform.
Final 2012 Stats: 55 Percent Completion Rate, 3,183 Yards, 22 TDs, 24 INTs
Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders
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What really is a shame for the Oakland Raiders is that they finally have some nice pieces surrounding their quarterback. However, the problem is going to be Carson Palmer.
While his predicted stats aren't absolutely terrible, they aren't nearly as good as they should be with the amount of talent surrounding him. He has a number of weapons to throw to, including Darren McFadden, Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford.
Unfortunately, Palmer is no longer the player he once was, and he'll struggle to successfully get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. The Raiders will also depend heavily on McFadden, and that will only take away throwing opportunities.
The good news for the Raiders is that they're likely heading for an early draft pick, which should result in them drafting their quarterback of the future.
Final 2012 Stats: 59 Percent Completion Rate, 3,648 Yards, 25 TDs, 19 INTs
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
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Since I've been predicting full 16-game seasons for every other quarterback on this list, I'm going to do the same thing for Michael Vick. It's not likely to happen, but we'll go with it.
If Vick does manage to play in every game this season, it will bring all of his fantasy owners to a state of extreme excitement. It will also do the same for the Philadelphia Eagles because they'll be able to truly compete in the NFC East. With a healthy Vick, the Eagles are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Vick is still going to struggle with completing a high percentage of his passes, but the majority of his other statistics will be career bests. If this happens, it will be a truly enjoyable season to watch.
Final 2012 Stats: 58 Percent Completion Rate, 3,728 Yards, 26 TDs, 13 INTs; 852 Rushing Yards, 6 TDs
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
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They also lost rookie David DeCastro to a knee injury, and the Steelers are unsure if he will return this season. He was looking like one of the best players on their offensive line.
Having no offensive line is going to make the season extremely long for Roethlisberger and the Steelers. If he had a better unit protecting him, he'd have a chance at an incredible season because of the weapons surrounding him.
Both Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown are dangerous playmakers, but they can't make plays if their quarterback is lying on the ground. The play of Pittsburgh's offensive line will be one of the worst storylines throughout the 2012 season.
Let's just say it won't be a fun season for Roethlisberger or the Steelers.
Final 2012 Stats: 63 Percent Completion Rate, 3,662 Yards, 24 TDs, 13 INTs, 68 Times Sacked
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
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Philip Rivers is another quarterback whose play could decline because of a poor offensive line.
What will hurt Rivers more than his offensive line is the loss of Vincent Brown for what could be the first five weeks of the season. With Vincent Jackson leaving town in the offseason, Brown was poised to have a breakout season for the San Diego Chargers.
While Malcom Floyd and Robert Meachem will still provide Rivers with solid options at receiver, Brown's big-play ability will be missed. It will also be interesting to see if Antonio Gates can have a bounce-back year for the Chargers.
If everything goes right for San Diego and Brown can make a speedy return from his broken ankle, Rivers could easily have the best season of his career. However, until that happens, we'll predict a more conservative effort.
Final 2012 Stats: 65 Percent Completion Rate, 4,467 Yards, 33 TDs, 14 INTs
Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
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Alex Smith has the boldest predictions by far. Smith is coming off the most passing yards of his career with 3,144, and I'm expecting him to surpass that mark by over 500 yards. Yes, bold is a good word.
However, you can't deny that Smith is surrounded by the most weapons he's ever had while playing for the San Francisco 49ers. It starts with receivers Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and A.J. Jenkins. It continues with the ultra-talented Vernon Davis and ends with the likes of Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Kendall Hunter and Brandon Jacobs.
There are few quarterbacks who wouldn't succeed with that many options. His 2012 season won't be enough to get him into the Pro Bowl, but it will be enough to finally silence most of his critics.
Final 2012 Stats: 64 Percent Completion Rate, 3,692 Yards, 27 TDs, 10 INTs
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
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Few players have gained a bigger following in the preseason than Russell Wilson. To be honest, he deserves it with his play on the field.
However, it isn't going to be all butterflies and rainbows for Wilson during his first season as a starter. He'll have his difficulties just like any rookie quarterback, and as teams begin to figure out how to defend against him, it will get even harder.
His one saving grace this year will be his ability to scramble and pick up first downs with his legs. This will allow him to keep drives going and increase his statistics across the board.
While he may not end up with the best stats even in his own division, the Seattle Seahawks should win plenty of games. If there is one thing we know about Wilson, it's that he will give his all every game. That isn't a trait you can simply teach to a player.
Final 2012 Stats: 60 Percent Completion Rate, 3,071 Yards, 19 TDs, 14 INTs; 723 Rushing Yards, 8 TDs
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
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Sam Bradford had a rough second year in the league where he struggled with a number of injuries throughout the season. Now that he is healthy, I expect him to look more like his rookie season suggested.
He has better weapons around him this year, and that should instantly improve his play. The St. Louis Rams should also feature a heavy ground game, which will take some of the pressure off of Bradford's shoulders.
When the season is over, Bradford still won't be the QB the Rams want him to become, but at least he'll be much closer than he was in 2011.
Final 2012 Stats: 58 Percent Completion Rate, 3,329 Yards, 20 TDs, 14 INTs
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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The big question surrounding Josh Freeman is whether we'll see the 2010 or 2011 version of him this year. If it is the 2010 version, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be a sleeper candidate to win the NFC South. However, if it is the 2011 version, it is going to be a long season for Tampa Bay.
What should ultimately decide what type of year Freeman has is the chemistry he has with Vincent Jackson and the play of rookie running back Doug Martin. As long as Freeman and Jackson are on the same page and Martin can consistently move the ball on the ground, it should be a successful year for the fourth-year quarterback.
I'm predicting that both of these requirements are met and Freeman has a fantastic bounce-back season for the Buccaneers.
Final 2012 Stats: 63 Percent Completion Rate, 3,756 Yards, 27 TDs, 13 INTs
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
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The Tennessee Titans made the difficult decision to start Jake Locker over Matt Hasselbeck, but it was the right decision in the long run. Locker will still look unpolished at times this season, but it will go a long way toward increased success for the second-year quarterback.
The big issue for Locker is his accuracy. He still struggles at times to put the ball in the right place, which is why he'll complete such a low percentage of passes and throw so many interceptions.
He also won't throw for too many yards because the Titans are still going to depend on Chris Johnson on offense. This is a good thing for Locker, because he simply isn't ready to carry a team by himself.
Look for the 2012 season to be filled with highs and lows, but by the end of the season, the Titans should know that Locker is their guy for the next decade.
Final 2012 Stats: 56 Percent Completion Rate, 3,341 Yards, 23 TDs, 19 INTs
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
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I'm not predicting Robert Griffin III to rush for many yards or touchdowns. He simply isn't that type of quarterback that looks to run when things get rough.
In fact, I don't think he'll run for this many yards ever again in his career. However, since he is a rookie, he may have the tendency to tuck the ball to get out of tense situations.
Griffin is a quarterback who excels in the pocket, and he'll prove that throughout his rookie season. His overall statistics may not be amazing, but I guarantee that the Washington Redskins will take them over having to play Rex Grossman.
The Offensive Rookie of the Year race should come down to Griffin and Andrew Luck. While Griffin likely won't have the statistics that Luck does, he will have a better team, should win more games and should bring home the top award for a rookie.
Final 2012 Stats: 62 Percent Completion Rate, 3,391 Yards, 19 TDs, 12 INTs; 458 Rushing Yards, 3 TDs