NFL Rookie Report: Breaking Down Week 3 of Rookie Quarterbacks

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NFL Rookie Report: Breaking Down Week 3 of Rookie Quarterbacks
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It was a rough week for rookie quarterbacks, well unless your name was Russell Wilson. The rookies, despite all playing at home, were 1-4 this week and could have easily been 0-5. Thankfully, this is an article about quarterbacks, not referees.

We're one week closer to welcoming Nick Foles to the NFL and another week lost in Brandon Weeden's search for his first win.

As always, the Rookie Report 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 TDs: 

  • "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.

Andrew Luck vs Jacksonville Jaguars, Loss 22-17

22-of-46, 313 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 4 Overthrows, 3 Underthrows, 1 Back Foot Pass, 2 Dangerous Throws, 4 Extended Plays

Andrew Luck is really good. The rest of the Colts offense? Not so much. Luck threw 46 passes to, once again, make up for the lack of any productivity on the ground. Donald Brown's long run of nine yards, from 18 carries, was 10 yards less than Luck's long run of 19. Luck put up his highest "extended plays" number of the season due to the lack of pass protection.

 

Along with the extended plays, Luck seems to be the only rookie who knows how to throw a ball away. Luck never seems to panic under pressure and is content to throw a ball out of bounds and try again on the next play—a veteran move.

Luck stays away from trying to force bad passes, except for his interception to Paul Posluszny—I still don't know where he was throwing that pass.

Still, the balls coming out of Luck's hand just look better than anything else the other rookies are throwing. The Colts will improve greatly once the offensive players around Luck can improve.

The upcoming bye week may be what Luck needs to gain a little more trust and timing with receivers not named Reggie Wayne.

Next week: Bye

 

Robert Griffin III vs Cincinnati Bengals, Loss 38-31

21-of-34, 221 yards, 1 TD, 1 Rushing TD, 0 INT, 1 Overthrow, 0 Underthrows, 5 Back Foot Passes, 3 Dangerous Throws, 2 Extended Plays

The Redskins keep unveiling new wrinkles in the offense each week. This week Griffin started taking snaps out of the Pistol formation—the quarterback not under center, but not deep enough for shotgun— but the pistol didn't end up adding much.

Again, more called runs were used by the Redskins as Griffin ran 12 times for 85 yards. Although those are impressive stats, Griffin was very careless running with the ball, fumbling three times and losing one.

If Griffin is going to continue running with the ball, he needs to make sure he holds onto it and not learn from the Michael Vick school of scrambling.

The Redskins are also sticking with their game plan of easing Griffin into the games with short throws. Against the Bengals, this game plan seemed to stretch about three quarters. Griffin didn't even attempt to stretch the field in the air until the last play of the third quarter.

Washington seems to be getting a little run-happy, which is taking away from the passing game. Considering Griffin has been smart with his passes so far this season, the Redskins need to let him test things through the air a little more.

Griffin is a quarterback who can run, not a running quarterback. This isn't Rex Grossman anymore. Let Griffin throw.

Next week: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Ryan Tannehill vs New York Jets, Loss 23-20/OT

16-of-36, 196 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 8 Overthrows, 1 Underthrow, 3 Back Foot Passes, 1 Dangerous Throw, 2 Extended Plays

Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

I'm still not sure which is worse: Tannehill's play against the Jets or that he still could have won the game?

Tannehill's passes were all over the place, with an incredible eight overthrows as proof. Tannehill's accuracy could have even had him considered for a role to be the next James Bond villain (and who wouldn't want to see Lauren Tannehill as a Bond girl?)

Even the passes Miami receivers caught weren't great. The great third quarter pass to Anthony Fasano to the 2-yard line should have been ruled incomplete as Fasano didn't keep possession of the ball all the way to the ground.

The 41-yard pass to Brian Hartline in overtime wasn't as good as it should have been. The ball was overthrown and Hartline had to dive, leaving no room for yards after the catch. Had Tannehill hit Hartline in stride, Hartline would have been able to gain a couple more yards after the catch to possibly set up Dan Carpenter for a game-winning field goal closer than 48 yards.

Tannehill still kept his problem of staring down his receivers, which is exactly what happened on the interception to LaRon Landry. If Tannehill can't look off safeties before he throws the ball, he's going to continue seeing jumped routes for interceptions.

Next week: at Arizona Cardinals


Brandon Weeden vs Buffalo Bills, Loss 24-14

27-of-43, 237 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 3 Overthrows, 2 Underthrows, 6 Back Foot Passes, 3 Dangerous Throws, 0 Extended Plays

Let's get this out of the way: You can't expect to win a game while making Brandon Weeden throw 43 times. Not all of that is on Weeden, but either way that isn't going to work.

Weeden once again got no run support as the Browns ran 13 times, 12 from Trent Richardson, for 33 yards. This comes a week after Richardson was able to run for 109 yards, so the offensive line may be a little inconsistent.

I mentioned earlier how Andrew Luck throws the ball away when no receivers are open. Brandon Weeden is the exact opposite. I actually think Weeden's eyes light up when he sees double coverage. Weeden was forcing so many passes against the Bills he even tried to force a ball into a tightly covered check down.

Sure, Weeden does have a strong arm, but if he doesn't use it correctly with smart passes, it won't matter how strong his arm is if the ball keeps ending up in the hands of defenders.

If Weeden can learn how to throw the ball away and step up in the pocket when there's no pressure, then there's a chance Weeden can be successful—a chance.

Next week: at Baltimore Ravens


Russell Wilson vs Green Bay Packers, Win 14-12

10-of-21, 130 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 1 Overthrow, 2 Underthrows, 4 Back Foot Passes, 2 Dangerous Throws, 3 Extended Plays

Once again, Russell Wilson didn't have to do much to win a game (this is a replacement referee-free zone). Wilson only had to throw 21 times, thanks to 25 carries by Marshawn Lynch.

On pass plays, Wilson still likes to abandon the pocket too early to scramble around. Wilson is used to being able to outrun defensive linemen in college behind the line of scrimmage, but that won't work as often in the NFL.

When Wilson does stay in the pocket and step up into his throws he does throw really nice passes, like his first touchdown to Golden Tate. Wilson can throw well on the run, but he needs to learn he has much more time in the pocket than he thinks he does.

If Seattle can continue to rely on Lynch to carry the ball around 25 times a game, the pressure won't be on Wilson to win a game with his arm, even though he has shown he can—well, kind of.

The Seahawks can win with the 2011 49ers' recipe: dominating defense and smart offense. Wilson has been smart with what he does with the football so far and if that continues, so can the Seahawks' success.

Next week: at St. Louis Rams

 

For more NFL fun, follow Dan on Twitter @DanPizzuta

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