It's just about safe for us to put the Offensive Rookie of the Year debate to bed after Robert Griffin III took home Rookie of the Month honors on Thursday for the second time this season. Andrew Luck has had a fantastic year, but what RG3 is doing actually gets him into the MVP conversation.
Grantland's Bill Barnwell used ProFootballReference.com's index statistics to compare eras based on necessary adjustments, and he essentially found that Griffin has a chance to go down as the greatest rookie quarterback in NFL history:
"The only rookie quarterback since the merger to throw interceptions less frequently or have a better quarterback rating than Griffin, again adjusted for era, is Dan Marino. So, basically, RG3 is right up there with Marino and Roethlisberger as the most statistically impressive rookie quarterback in NFL history — and that doesn't even take into account his impact as a rusher."
That's a big reason why, no matter how you look at it, Griffin has to be in the MVP picture.
He has the league's fourth-highest completion percentage, the second-lowest interception percentage, the fourth-highest passer rating (but less than a point back of league leader Aaron Rodgers), is tied for the league lead with 8.2 yards per attempt and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio that would be unmatched if you were to include his six rushing scores.
Those rushing touchdowns and yards have to factor in too, of course. Griffin has scored a combined 22 passing and rushing touchdowns this season and is ranked 21st in the NFL in rushing. Among those who qualify, only C.J. Spiller is averaging more yards per attempt.
So, if Griffin's a top-five quarterback based solely on his arm, where does he land on the list when you consider that versatility and all of those rushing yards and touchdowns?
Rodgers, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are having fantastic seasons, and while Griffin's Redskins have won only five of their 11 games, those three all have their teams in playoff positions with either seven or eight wins.
That's why those guys are again the favorites in the MVP race, while Griffin is only on the fringe of the debate. For example, NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal has him buried behind guys like Reggie Wayne and Von Miller in the 10th spot in his latest MVP forecast.
I have a hard time seeing how those guys are more valuable to their teams than Griffin is to the Redskins, but the point is that a lot of people aren't fully realizing how much of an impact Griffin is making. Can you imagine where this team would be without him? Now compare that to where the Texans would be without J.J. Watt (third on Rosenthal's list). It's not even a debate.
The only players who can compare to RG3 are Rodgers, Brady, Manning and maybe Adrian Peterson. Those guys have the numbers, the impact and winning records.
"An MVP is not coming from a losing team," two-time MVP Kurt Warner told Mark Maske of the Washington Post this week. "That's not going to happen. Now, if he keeps playing the way he's played these last couple games, if they win some games and those other guys fall off down the stretch, maybe it can happen."
If Griffin can lead the Redskins to the playoffs, though, while continuing to produce like he has of late, he'll deserve very, very strong consideration.
It's only fair to consider what he's working with.
Wins are costing him in this discussion, but he's been dealing with a depleted, shabby group of receivers (Pierre Garcon's been hurt and he lost his favorite target, Fred Davis, in Week 7), a mediocre line (no Jammal Brown at right tackle and a lack of consistency in pass protection all season), a ton of injuries (Brown, Garcon, Davis, Brian Orakpo, Brandon Meriweather, Adam Carriker, London Fletcher) and a defense that ranks 28th in the NFL.
So, with that in mind, Griffin probably shouldn't be expected to lead this team to the Super Bowl in order to be considered the league's MVP.
So long as the Redskins continue on their current path, you could make a valid argument that RG3 is/was worth more wins than any single player in football. And that, to me, is what the MVP is. I'm not saying he'll win in, but with five games to go, he's gotta be in it.
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