NFL Week 1: Grading the Rookie Quarterbacks

Matt BarbatoCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 09:    Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins celebrates a 40-32 win against the New Orleans Saints during the season opener at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Week 1 featured an NFL-record five rookie quarterbacks taking the helm. Of the five teams putting these youngsters (aside from Brandon Weeden) in charge of the offense, only Robert Griffin III's Washington Redskins came away victorious.

Each rookie had their good moments and bad moments but I will put it all together with my rookie quarterback grades.

Robert Griffin III - RG3 easily had the best game of the five rookies this weekend. Griffin went 19/26 with 320 yards and two touchdowns in the upset over New Orleans. Griffin also used his legs and rushed for 42 yards on 10 attempts. He outscored the high-powered New Orleans Saints and even outplayed Drew Brees. Griffin's highlight play was an 88-yard pass to Pierre Garcon that gave the Redskins the lead.

RG3 proved that he has the talent and intangibles to have great success in this league. Although it was against a battered Saints defense, already missing linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Griffin still had a tremendous game and showed a ton of poise in the hostile Superdome. For one week at least, RG3 silenced the doubters.

Grade: A

Andrew Luck - The player taken before Robert Griffin III was Andrew Luck by the Indianapolis Colts. For their entire careers Luck and RG3 will be compared and this week Luck did not perform up to Griffin's level. That isn't to say Luck played terribly, because he really didn't. Luck was faced with the frightening front seven of the Chicago Bears, and went 23/45 with 309 yards a touchdown to go along with three interceptions in the 41-21 loss. Luck did not get a lot of help from the running game but found a connection with Reggie Wayne and Coby Fleener. One of his interceptions was a good throw that was picked off by a great defensive play.

Luck has Wayne and Fleener but that is about it. His lack of weapons and mediocre defense will force him to throw early and often in games which could hurt him more than help him.

On the positive side, Luck showed some signs of the potential he has to be the next Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. As a matter of fact, his stats were almost identical to Manning's in his NFL debut. 

Grade: C+

Ryan Tannehill- Tannehill's rookie debut with the Miami Dolphins was a rough one, all right. Tannehill went 20/36 for 219 yards and three interceptions. He struggled against Houston's stacked defense in the 30-10 blowout. Miami was 0-3 in the red zone and only converted two of their 10 third-down attempts. Although Miami did have the lead in the first quarter it was all Houston after that.

Tannehill has a lot of raw talent but his supporting cast is pitiful. Brian Hartline led the team with 50 yards receiving and Reggie Bush struggled with only 69 yards on the ground. If Miami wants to succeed quickly they must give this guy some help. Tannehill had a lackluster debut, but the talent is there and he will gain leadership in the locker room as the season progresses.

Grade: D

Brandon Weeden:  Weeden had an awful debut with the Browns. Luckily for him, Michael Vick played so poorly in the game that he will take the bulk of the criticism from the media. Weeden went 12/35 for only 118 yards and four interceptions. The Browns defense single-handedly kept Cleveland in that game and whenever the defense gave Weeden an opportunity to take control, he'd throw it away.

Weeden did not show a lot of good things in Week 1. He was playing against a very tough Philadelphia defense but the turnovers are inexcusable. Along with the four picks, Weeden fumbled twice, though Cleveland managed to recover the ball both times. This 28-year-old rookie needs some serious work if he wants to prove he was worth a first-round pick.

Grade: F

Russell Wilson: Wilson had a quietly average rookie debut. After being unexpectedly named the starter by Pete Carroll, he went 18/34 with 153 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the Seahawks' 20-16 loss to Arizona.

With recently acquired free-agent Matt Flynn on the bench and ready, Wilson needed to perform better. After the Cardinals scored to take the lead with under five minutes left, Wilson led a drive down to the Arizona four-yard line but threw three straight incomplete passes to end the game. Wilson did complete over 50 percent of his throws and only had one turnover but will have to perform better if he wants to hold on to the starting job.

Grade: C