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NFL Rookie Report: Breaking Down Week 6 of Rookie Quarterbacks

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NFL Rookie Report: Breaking Down Week 6 of Rookie Quarterbacks
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Home is where the heart is, and for rookie quarterbacks in Week 6, home is where the wins were. The rookies were 4-0 at home and 0-1 on the road this week, following a season trend. So far, the teams led by rookie quarterbacks are 9-6 at home and only 4-10 on the road.

The most important thing about that 4-1 record this week? Brandon Weeden wasn't the loss!

As always, the Rookie Report is 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-of-22 with two 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.

 

Brandon Weeden vs Cincinnati Bengals, Win 34-24

17-of-29, 231 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 2 Overthrows, 0 Underthrows, 2 Back foot passes, 0 Dangerous Throws, 0 Extended Plays

They say it's your birthday. We're gonna have a good time.

Brandon Weeden went to a party-party against the Bengals on his birthday for his first career win.

 

 

 

Earlier in the week, Weeden said his ego was making him throw his ill-advised throws for interceptions. (I still stand by the two-face coin flipping theory.) Either way, Weeden stayed away from forcing dumb passes.

Zero dangerous throws. Weeden's previous season low was two, and both of those throws were intercepted.

Weeden was on his way to a typical Brandon Weeden day, as he was 9-of-20 passing with seven-and-a-half minutes left in the third quarter, but finished the game completing seven of his next eight passes.

Weeden followed some of the keys to winning some of the other rookie quarterbacks have already figured out. He started the game off with short passes, didn't panic when nothing was open downfield and was content throwing to the check-down option.

It's clear Weeden has the strongest arm in the rookie class, but his accuracy on deep balls hindered his arm strength from being effective. We've now seen in the past two weeks Weeden can hit a wide open receiver downfield. The problem is when that receiver is actually covered, Weeden overcompensates and usually overthrows by at least five yards.

Maybe Weeden's new lack of ego can help with that too, or maybe the Cleveland receivers can just keep running past everyone.

But the biggest takeaway from this game was that Brandon Weeden got to take a knee on the final play.

 

 

Next week: at Indianapolis Colts

 

 

Ryan Tannehill vs St. Louis Rams, Win 17-14

21-of-29, 185 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 1 Overthrow, 0 Underthrows, 0 Back foot passes, 0 Dangerous Throws, 2 Extended Plays

Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins are running the 2011 San Francisco 49ers offense, and it's going to take them to the playoffs. Yes, the same guy who wrote this is now predicting a Dolphins playoff appearance after Week 6.

The Dolphins are playing to not turn the ball over on offense and dominate on defense. Tannehill is playing this role smartly and has erased all traces of panic he had in the first two weeks of the season.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Tannehill is making smart passes and had no dangerous throws for the second week in a row. The early short passes set up the open touchdown pass to Marlon Moore. Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins had his eyes in the backfield and was ready to jump a short route, only to have Moore run right past him for a easy score.

Tannehill had his first career multi-passing touchdown game, and he needed to, as the Dolphins produced a whole 20 yards rushing against the Rams.

 

Tannehill even impressed Rams head coach Jeff Fisher with his poise against the blitz. Tannehill is standing strong in the pocket, but is still seems he doesn't recognize it until it's coming and could read the defense a little better pre-snap.

 

If he can do that, the Dolphins will make a run.

Next week: Bye

 

 

Robert Griffin III vs Minnesota Vikings, Win 38-26

17-of-22, 182 yards, 1 TD, 2 Rushing TDs, 1 INT, 0 Overthrows, 0 Underthrows, 1 Back foot pass, 1 Dangerous Throw, 6 Extended Plays

The most common comment on my MVP column is the omission of Griffin in the top 10. Here's my case: I'd like to see a bigger sample size before I throw him into the conversation for the most valuable in the league.

At the moment, Griffin leading the Redskins to a 3-3 record isn't enough for me to consider him a top-10 contender for the MVP. Football Outsiders has Griffin ranked 13th in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average among quarterbacks. If he's not even a top-10 DVOA QB, then how can he be a top-10 MVP candidate?

 

Now to discuss his actual play from the week...

During the game against the Vikings, Griffin tied his season high in rushes, but ran smarter than he has all season. Griffin aimed for the sideline and didn't allow himself to take a big hit for an extra yard, something that will keep him on the field longer as the season progresses.

 

Throwing the ball, Griffin picked apart the Vikings secondary any time they were in zone coverage. The Redskins have mastered throwing short passes to set up a deep pass down field, which usually ends up with a wide open receiver.

Griffin's only interception came on a forced pass he shouldn't have thrown, but overall, did his best job of scrambling instead of trying to force a ball to a covered receiver.

 

If Griffin can keep up an elevated level of play, he could end up in the MVP discussion; just not right now.

Next week: at New York Giants

 

Russell Wilson vs New England Patriots, Win 24-23

16-of-27, 293 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 3 Overthrows, 0 Underthrows, 2 Back foot passes, 1 Dangerous Throw, 2 Extended Plays

 

Russell Wilson was the most patient he's been in the pocket all season, and it paid off. He was calm and was looking downfield longer before deciding to scramble.

Wilson stepped up into his throws, and it led to some great deep passes—something he's done occasionally, but really let loose against New England.

The Patriots played defense to sit down Marshawn Lynch in the running game and make Wilson beat them throwing the ball. That strategy worked, as Lynch had only 41 yards on 15 carries, but New England actually let Wilson beat them through the air.

 

The Seahawks once again utilized a heavy dose of play action, and since the Patriots were so focused on stopping Lynch, receivers were left open for Wilson to hit.

Wilson's fourth-quarter touchdown to Braylon Edwards was incredibly thrown, with the ball hung just long enough for Edwards to stop and come back to the ball for the catch, possibly the nicest pass Wilson has thrown this season.

The Seahawks are 3-0 at home and 1-2 on the road, with the next two games coming away from Seattle, so we can see if Wilson's success can be sustained or if it's due to Seattle's college-like home-field advantage.

 

Next week: at San Francisco 49ers

 

 

Andrew Luck at New York Jets, Loss 35-9

22-of-44, 280 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT, 8 Overthrows, 1 Underthrow, 1 Back foot pass, 2 Dangerous Throws, 1 Extended Play

The final score may not indicate it, but the Colts could have been in this game. In the first quarter, Andrew Luck overthrew an open Coby Fleener in the end zone, which could have put the Colts up 7-0. Indianapolis settled for a field goal and the Jets took their next drive for a touchdown and never looked back.

The game then turned into a case of Luck trying to do way too much with way too little.

 

The offensive line was terrible, both pass and run blocking. Luck was sacked four times, and the Colts had a long run of five yards on the day.

Luck knew if the offense was going to do anything, it had to be because of him. This led to Luck throwing passes before he was ready and forcing balls into places he shouldn't.

Luck had no time to let his receivers run their routes and had to start settling for short passes, check downs and screens.

Luck did the same thing last week once he was down big against the Packers, but was a little luckier with the results. This week didn't turn out as well.

Next week: vs Cleveland Browns

 

For more NFL fun, follow Dan on Twitter @DanPizzuta and listen to the Between The Twenties Podcast  allowScriptAccess="always">

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