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NFL Rookie Report: Breaking Down Week 2 Performances

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NFL Rookie Report: Breaking Down Week 2 Performances
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Week 2 of the NFL saw collectively good play from the rookie quarterbacks. There was only one total interception thrown, and it wasn't from Brandon Weeden.

Rookies had a 3-2 record, leaving Weeden as the only rookie QB without a win.

The Rookie Report (yup, name change after a week) will be a weekly piece on the the play and progression of this year's rookie quarterbacks—not handing out arbitrary grades.

Stat Key: After reviewing film, every quarterback will have a stat line looking deeper than 18/22 with 2 TD's: 

  • "Overthrows" are counted as throws missed long while not under pressure to an open receiver.
  • "Underthrows" will be short throws while not under pressure to an open receiver.
  • "Back foot passes" will be considered throws off the back foot when the quarterback has time to set his feet.
  • "Dangerous throws" will be passes forced into a clearly covered or double covered receiver who is not Calvin Johnson.
  • "Extended Plays" are considered plays when the intent was to pass and through scrambling, the quarterback was able to run or pass for a positive gain.

Robert Griffin III at St. Louis Rams

20/29, 206 yards, 1 TD, 2 Rushing TD, 1 INT, 0 Overthrows, 1 Underthrow, 2 Back foot passes, 2 Dangerous Throws, 5 Extended Plays

The Redskins may have played the best possible Week 1 opponent in New Orleans to execute their quick-read game plan. Grantland's Chris Brown explained how Griffin screen passes were a little more difficult than they looked. The screen passes were perfect against the aggressive nature of the Saints defense, but weren't as effective against a Rams defense some people think (yes, I am some people) could be good. The Rams played patiently and didn't let themselves over-pursue short passes.

On top of Griffin's five extended plays, there were many more run plays called for Griffin, which led to two rushing touchdowns. The Redskins seem to be adding more and more to the offensive game plan each week to ease Griffin along.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

 

Griffin and the Redskins continued with throwing smart and safe passes, but again Griffin got into trouble when he tried to force passes into small holes. Griffin never should have thrown the pass in the second quarter that eventually got intercepted by Cortland Finnegan, as the ball had no chance of getting through to tight end Fred Davis. Griffin also tried to force a ball to Dezmon Briscoe with two minutes left in the third quarter that should have been intercepted by Bradley Fletcher.

Griffin also underthrew an open Aldrick Robinson in the fourth quarter for what should have been an easy go ahead touchdown. Still, Griffin constructed a two minute drive that should have led to a make -able game tying field goal. That was before Josh Morgan's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for throwing the ball at Cortland Finnegan, leading to an all-time great coach-to-player stare down.

Griffin remains the only rookie quarterback yet to play a home game, which will happen next week.

Next week: vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Andrew Luck vs. Minnesota Vikings

20/31, 224 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 2 Overthrows, 2 Underthrows, 0 Back foot passes, 1 Dangerous throw, 3 Extended Plays

There's an explanation to why everyone thought so highly of Andrew Luck coming out of college; he's really good. Luck, in only his second game, is already half way to matching the Colts win total from last season, so he's got that going for him, which is nice.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

 

Luck continued to look comfortable in the pocket and only made one bad mistake when he tried forcing a pass into a clearly covered Kris Adams after a low snap.

The Colts are going to rely on Luck more than any other team will rely on a rookie quarterback because of the lack of a run game in Indianapolis. Donald Brown rushed for only 45 yards on 16 carries (bitter fantasy owner alert). Take away Brown's long run of 15 and he totaled 30 yards on 15 carries, a solid two yards per carry average.

The lack of run game puts more pressure on Luck when the Colts are ahead because they will have to continue passing to keep the clock running late in games. With four minutes left in the fourth quarter and a seven point lead, the Colts were throwing the ball because they couldn't get a first down on the ground.  A two minute, six-play drive, featuring only two runs for no yards, let Minnesota back into the game and led to Kyle Rudolph's game tying touchdown catch.

Once again, Luck showed poise in a two-minute drill, leading the Colts 45 yards in 23 seconds, this time ending with a successful field goal attempt to put Indianapolis ahead.

Luck is already showing Liam Neeson-like confidence, which is going to be scary once the rest of the Colts around him improve.

Next week: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Russell Wilson vs. Dallas Cowboys

15/20, 151 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 1 Overthrow, 1 Underthrow, 2 Back foot passes, 1 Dangerous Throw, 3 Extended Plays

Wilson was much more settled at home this week than he was last week in Arizona. Wilson was more patient in the pocket, letting plays develop instead of immediately looking to scramble. This showed on play action passes, as Wilson seemed comfortable setting his feet instead of making bootlegs out of non bootleg passes.

Wilson only threw 20 passes, but when Marshawn Lynch is running defenders over for almost five yards per carry on 26 carries, 20 passes should be all you need. Wilson made the most of his throws though, completing 15 of them, only throwing one near interception.

Wilson did have one rookie mistake—committing a delay of game penalty inside the red zone on third down in the second quarter. If that's the worst mistake Wilson is going to make during games, I think Seattle will be okay with that.

Seattle has a college-like home field advantage, so we'll have to see if that has any effect on Wilson's play for the rest of the season.

Next week: vs. Green Bay Packers

Ryan Tannehill vs. Oakland Raiders

18/30, 200 yards, 1 TD, 1 Rushing TD, 0 INT, 2 Overthrows, 1 Underthrow, 2 Back foot passes, 0 Dangerous Throws, 1 Extended Play

Last week, I was able to escape a Blaine Gabbert comeback to see another week in a suicide pool. This week, I couldn't escape from Ryan Tannehill.

Tannehill had a great day against the Raiders, which should allow Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland to calm down a bit. Tannehill looked more confident under center and in progressions, which is a bit of an understatement, as any confidence would have been an improvement from Week 1.

The big thing that stood out was zero dangerous throws. Tannehill made smart passes (smart passes are going to become a recurring theme in the Rookie Report and it might need a Twitter hashtag...watch out for #smartpasses on Sundays) and was fine with throwing the ball away instead of trying to find a nonexistent window to get the ball to a receiver.

I'm still not sure if Tannehill's thank you note to Reggie Bush should be on a weekly basis or just at the end of the year, but Sunday's 172 yard and two touchdown performance deserves some thanks (excited fantasy owner alert).

Between Bush and apparent favorite receiver Brian Hartline, Tannehill could have gained some chemistry to create legitimate offensive weapons for the Dolphins to build on.

Maybe Pat Devlin will stay on the bench all season?

Next week: at New York Jets

Brandon Weeden at Cincinnati Bengals

26/37, 322 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 2 Overthrows, 1 Underthrow, 1 Back foot pass, 3 Dangerous Throws, 0 Extended Plays

Are you sitting down? You should really sit down for this. Okay, here it goes. Brandon Weedon kind of, sort of, maybe looked like an NFL quarterback against the Bengals.

Don't get me wrong, there were still some throws that should have made you wonder what Weeden was thinking. But there weren't any throws that were downright hilarious to watch like in Week 1. Weeden, like Tannehill, improved with the acceptance of settling for the check-down if no one else is open. Still, there were a couple throws that looked like he was excited to throw into double coverage. If that continues, some more four interception games could be on the way.

Weeden also had the luxury of a run game. With the same amount of carries, 19, Trent Richardson ran for 70 more yards than he did in Week 1. Richardson also single-handedly got Weeden his first career touchdown pass doing his best Marshawn Lynch impression.

In two weeks, we've seen a wide spectrum ranging from hilariously incompetent to surprisingly adequate. Time will tell which one the real Brandon Weeden will be.

Next week: vs Buffalo Bills

 

For more NFL coverage, follow Dan on Twitter @DanPizzuta

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