Report Card Grades for Every Rookie NFL QB Heading into Week 15
As we near the postseason, each of the five starting rookie quarterbacks has their respective NFL teams alive for January.
Some, obviously, are in much better position than others, but it's quite a story regarding how wild the 2012 season continues to unfold.
And leading this onslaught of rookie quarterbacks is Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts.
Luck is in the best of positions in terms of the postseason because Indy holds a two-game lead for the AFC's No. 5 seed. Lest we also forget, this is a rookie quarterback that has literally been under the pro football spotlight since the middle of the 2010 college football season.
Going No. 1 overall in the 2012 draft, Luck keeps impressing and living up to the expectations. Interestingly enough, he's just part of a solid rookie quarterback class this year.
With that, let's grade Luck and Co. and see which new signal-callers have performed the best to this point.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts are not playoff contenders without Andrew Luck.
After Indy went 2-14 in 2011, Luck has the Colts sporting a 9-4 record as Week 15 approaches. A win on Sunday and Circle City pulls an eight-win turnaround with two games remaining.
Now, Luck does not present the sexiest of numbers. However, he averages 292 passing yards per game—not counting yards lost from sacks—and has accounted for 23 total touchdowns.
Despite Luck throwing 18 picks and having only a 54.9 completion percentage, Indy spends a lot of time throwing because the defense allows 25.3 points per game. As a result, Luck attempting more passes does provide opponents with more turnover opportunities.
Nevertheless, logging victories over the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings are impressive enough. But in addition, Luck has led the Colts on numerous game-winning drives in the waning minutes.
In short, winning is what has mattered most.
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
It's difficult to say more about how Robert Griffin III has impacted the Washington Redskins.
For one, he leads the NFL with a 104.2 passer rating and has also completed 66.4 percent of his throws.
Secondly, RG3 has accounted for 24 total touchdowns, and unsurprisingly, the Redskins average 26.4 points per contest. Much like Luck in Indianapolis, Griffin III is the key factor for Washington's success as the 'Skins defense gives up 25.3 points per game.
On another level than Luck, though, RG3 has only thrown four interceptions and has just as many touchdown passes. The Redskins are also in the NFC playoff picture courtesy of a four-game winning streak and three winnable games remaining.
His dual-threat ability is unlike pro football has ever seen because RG3 is a much more polished quarterback than Cam Newton. By the same token, he's responsible for an average of 281 total yards per game.
Now, RG3 did go out of the game in Week 14 vs. the Baltimore Ravens. Fortunately, according to the Redskins' official Twitter feed:
So, Redskins fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill could certainly be playing better, but he could also be playing much worse.
With only eight touchdown passes to 12 picks on the season, Tannehill has a 57.9 completion percentage and two rushing touchdowns.
The Miami Dolphins sit in a tough position at 5-8; however, Tannehill has spread the field decently well.
Brian Hartline and Davone Bess each have received 100-plus targets and tight end Anthony Fasano leads the team with four receiving touchdowns. Tannehill has also only been sacked 25 times, so the combination of his pass protection and mobility is paying dividends.
The tough part, though, is Tannehill not being able to consistently lead Miami in the close games.
The Dolphins had two early overtime losses against the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals, and Tannehill threw only one touchdown to three picks between both games.
Now in two more close calls against the Colts and Buffalo Bills, Tannehill did play better overall. Unfortunately, the Dolphins were a combined 7-of-21 on third down in these games.
All this said, expect Tannehill to improve because the potential has been proven in wins vs. playoff-contending teams in the Cincinnati Bengals, St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks.
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
The beginning of Brandon Weeden's NFL career was straight up atrocious.
Through his first three games with the Cleveland Browns, Weeden tossed a mere three touchdowns to seven interceptions.
Since, however, Weeden has 10 touchdown passes to only eight picks. The end result of that comes in the form of a three-game winning streak.
On the year, the old rookie has tossed for 3,037 yards and averages 11.5 yards per completion. Factor in only getting sacked 24 times, and Cleveland fields a quarterback with a quick release and improved decision-making skills.
Weeden also utilizes his receiving weapons quite well. Four different players have 60-plus targets and three have multiple touchdowns. By no means has Weeden completely dominated like RG3 or taken over games late like Andrew Luck.
Still, considering his strong arm and willingness to survey from the pocket, and it's no surprise the Browns have confidence. Include victories over the Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers, and Weeden brings excellent promise to Cleveland.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Even if we take away the Seattle Seahawks' controversial win over the Packers, Russell Wilson would still have his team in the postseason hunt.
Currently holding an 8-5 record, Wilson also lead Seattle to key victories over the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears. Almost as important, Wilson has taken care of the ball with 20 touchdowns to only nine picks and a 63.0 completion percentage.
Pete Carroll can't ask for much more from his ["undersized'] rookie quarterback. Wilson may not have ideal size, but his incredible arm strength, accuracy, mobility and cerebral approach are on par with Andrew Luck and RG3.
In other words, Wilson is proving that size doesn't mean much, if anything.
Now, most definitely is he backed by a punishing running back in Marshawn Lynch and suffocating defense. Then again, every quarterback who won a Super Bowl was part of this recipe as well.
Plus, during the previous five games the Seahawks are 4-1 and Wilson has a 10-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
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