First Rookie QB Battle Arrives; Andrew Luck & Brandon Weeden May Rewrite History

Ken Prendergast@@KennyPeepersContributor IIOctober 15, 2012

Andrew Luck is leading the 2012 rookie quarterback class with 297.6 passing yards per game. If the Indianapolis Colts rookie continues that pace he will shatter Cam Newton's single-season rookie passing record set only last year.
Andrew Luck is leading the 2012 rookie quarterback class with 297.6 passing yards per game. If the Indianapolis Colts rookie continues that pace he will shatter Cam Newton's single-season rookie passing record set only last year.Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE

Sunday marks the first time that two of the five representatives from the much-heralded 2012 rookie quarterback class will go head-to-head. Brandon Weeden's Cleveland Browns will travel to face Andrew Luck's Indianapolis Colts in a reunion of 2012 Fiesta Bowl quarterbacks.

Weeden and his teammates hope for the same outcome for him, as Weeden's Oklahoma State Cowboys defeated Luck's Stanford Cardinals. But the Browns aren't the 'Pokes and the Colts aren't the 'Cards.

Yet, each QB is trying to reverse the fortunes of their respective teams. And, in doing so, both are on track to possibly write themselves into the NFL record books, starting this season. That's saying quite a lot considering the rookie company they're in, with five talented rookie QBs starting under center in 2012.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, via the Los Angeles Times: The 2012 season is the first since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 that featured more than two rookie quarterbacks starting in openers.

It's a league where, thanks to rules that favor passing attacks, young quarterbacks can have success early on. That's good for the league, considering that nearly a third of the starting quarterbacks in the NFL have less than two full years of pro experience.

So perhaps it's not so surprising that Cam Newton's single season passing record by a rookie, set only last year, is in very real danger of being broken by not one, but two quarterbacks this season.

Which ones? I'll give you a hint, their teams are playing against each other this Sunday.




After five games (the Colts have already had a bye week), Luck is averaging 297.6 yards passing per game. If he keeps throwing like that, he'll be on track to pass for a staggering 4,762 yards. As Luck gains more experience, there's every reason for him to average even more yards per game by raising his 53-percent pass completion percentage.

"I'm glad we play him this year and not two years from now," said Jets coach Rex Ryan after defeating the Colts on Sunday 35-9. "He's got all the talent in the world."

Weeden isn't far behind. After six games, he's averaging 253.17 yards passing per game. If he continues at that pace, he'll equal Newton's record exactly. As a rookie, Weeden could also break the Browns' single-season passing record of 4,132 yards held by Brian Sipe since 1980.

The reason is the Cleveland Browns' schedule looks much weaker the rest of the way, as their remaining games are against teams with only a 22-28 won-loss record so far this year. Compare that to the teams the Browns faced in the first six weeks, who achieved a 21-15 won-loss record thus far.

That includes Weeden's dismal, deer-in-the-headlights introduction to the NFL. Against Philadelphia he threw for just 118 yards, earning a paltry QB rating of 5.1. Since then, his overall QB rating is above 80.

As it turns out, Weeden and Luck have become close friends with each other and with the other three starting rookie QBs—Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson.


"I'm close friends with all those guys," Weeden told Trey Wingo on ESPN's NFL Live on Oct. 15. "I keep tabs on all their stats."


Tannehill is next behind Weeden with 242 yards per game and completing passes at a 60 percent clip. RG3 is averaging 223.8 passing yards a game, while adding another 63 yards rushing. Wilson has the fewest yards per game at 185 but the highest completion percentage (62.5) and the best touchdown-interception thrown ratio (8-6). Oh, and by the way, Wilson is also the only one of the five playing on a winning team.

After this week's Browns-Colts game, "The Five" will play against each other three more times: on Nov. 4 when Tannehill's Dolphins go on the road to face Luck's Colts, on Nov. 25 when Wilson's Seahawks go up against the Dolphins in Miami and on Dec. 16 when RG3's Redskins play the Browns in Cleveland.

As an NFL fan, here's hoping this weekend's first game among members of "The Five" is the start of many great games for years to come.