In most other years, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson or even Alfred Morris could all have easily won an Offensive Rookie of the Year award. But 2012 is no such year. There will be only one winner, and his name is Robert Griffin III.
First, a look at the passing stats so far for the three front-runners:
Robert Griffin III: 249/375 for 3,100 yards, 8.27 avg, 66.4% completion, 20 TDs, 5 INT, 104.1 Rating
Russell Wilson: 237/374 for 2,868 yards, 7.67 avg, 63.4% completion, 25 TDs, 10 INT, 98.0 Rating
Andrew Luck: 325/599 for 4,183 yards, 6.98 avg, 54.3% completion, 21 TDs, 18 INT, 75.6 Rating
Those numbers were good enough to earn Griffin a trip to the Pro Bowl already, while the other two quarterbacks missed the cut. While Pro Bowl voting is extremely flawed (see the AFC safety selection), it is a good indicator of who is most popular around the league as of right now.
In this case, I think Griffin is highly deserving of his Pro Bowl trip, among a slew of other awards he should be given in the very near future.
Over the course of the year, no single rookie has been such a consistently dominant force in every game. Luck, Wilson? Both have had multiple bad games. I challenge you to find RGIII's bad game.
Statistically, Griffin's worst game came against the Steelers, where he went 16/34 for 177 yards and a TD despite an unbelievable 10 drops by his receivers. But if you're watching the games, you could say that this past week against the Eagles was by far his most mediocre performance to date, as he was dealing with a knee injury. The result? He was voted Rookie of the Week.
Griffin has yet to post a multi-interception game, whereas Luck has posted five such games and Wilson two. Now you could say that's because Luck throws the ball more and has to play a different style, but Wilson has one less attempt on the year than Griffin.
First off, I don't believe that Luck is as big a threat to Griffin winning Offensive Rookie of the Year as Wilson. In the past four games, Luck has completed less than 50 percent of his passes. Yes he's racking up yards, but he hasn't been nearly as dominant of a player as Griffin or Wilson.
Luck set the rookie record for total yards, but did so on almost 600 attempts (fifth-most in the league). Just for perspective, Griffin would have to throw 224 times to match Luck and would go for 4,952 yards on the season if he kept his average. Clearly the two come from different offensive schemes.
Just to be clear, Luck has been phenomenal for the Colts this season. He has led four fourth quarter comebacks (and seven game-winning drives) to Griffin's three, but while he's produced some big wins, I don't think he's played at the level of either Griffin or Wilson. He's a high-volume passer which is where he gets all the yards, but that's what the Colts need to succeed.
If we're considering Wilson, the biggest argument for him is that he's led the Seahawks to three straight blowouts, thus entering the conversation for Rookie of the Year. But let's take a look at those games:
ARI (5-10): 7/13 for 148 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
@BUF (5-10): 14/23 for 205 yards, 1 TD, 3 RSH TD
SF (10-4-1): 15/21 for 171 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
Those three games that everyone says are making the case for him being OROY are similar to the last three games RGIII played when healthy. Although I would say Griffin's numbers are slightly better.
NYG (8-7): 13/21 for 163 yards, 1 TD
@DAL (8-7): 19/27 for 304 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
PHI (4-11): 14/15 for 200 yards, 4 TD (Only second rookie QB to post a "perfect game" in history (Bledsoe))
I think it's fair to consider that a wash. Now let's look at Wilson's single best game of the season. In their big win against New England at home, Wilson went 16-of-27 for 293 and three touchdowns.That's a huge game against a very good team, and Wilson was the reason why they won.
Outside of the three games mentioned, Griffin went 19-of-26 for 320 yards and two touchdowns in his debut against the Saints at the Superdome. While not as difficult an opponent as the Patriots, that is still a huge game for a rookie quarterback on a big stage in one of the most difficult environments in the league.
I would argue that Griffin and Wilson are very comparable statistically. Outside of his three-interception game against St. Louis, Wilson is very careful with the ball. He's a fairly accurate passer who is more than capable of delivering the big play. However, if you're comparing the two side by side, Griffin is a far greater talent because of his proficiency with the deep ball.
The Seahawks also benefit from having a top-five defense allowing the least points per game (15.5) in the country, with Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner forming one of the better cornerback tandems in the league. Marshawn Lynch has also been an animal once again this season, providing a lot of relief for Wilson in the backfield.
The Redskins, on the other hand, are near the bottom in most defensive categories. While they do have the top rushing attack in the league at 162.3 ypg, Seattle is right behind them at 161.7 ypg.
Bottom line, Wilson has won one more game that Griffin with one more game to play. The Seahawks are guaranteed a wild-card spot, the Redskins are playing for the division tomorrow. Seattle has won six of the last seven, Washington is on a six-game winning streak. Wilson has five games against quality opponents, Griffin has seven (though Seattle has a slightly harder strength of schedule (.504) than Washington (.488)).
Just by his passing numbers, Griffin has done just as much as—if not more than—Wilson with a far worse team around him. He's carried the Redskins through the majority of games and played well beyond his years. From his 76-yard touchdown run against Minnesota to his 28-point second quarter on Thanksgiving in Dallas, Griffin has a slew of defining moments in his rookie campaign. He's just been flat out better.
The Redskin offense does allow Griffin to make easier throws down field mainly because receivers are often wide open. But the reason that happens is because teams are so afraid of Griffin as a runner. The zone-read pulls the linebackers towards the line of scrimmage and leaves the middle of the field open for Pierre Garcon to catch the ball in space.
But if you put either Luck or Wilson into that same offense, I don't believe it would have the same potency. Griffin is an entirely different player when you combine his arm with his running ability. Consider the rushing statistics of the three players:
Robert Griffin III: 114 carries for 752 yards. 6.6 average, 6 TDs
Russell Wilson: 84 carries for 431 yards. 5.1 average, 3 TDs
Andrew Luck: 57 carries for 254 yards. 4.5 average, 5 TDs
Griffin blows the other two out of the water in this category. Again, this is related to the scheme of the Redskins offense, but while they are both athletic in their own right, neither Wilson nor Luck have anywhere near the speed of RGIII that haunts defensive coordinators.
If the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award were based off the best passer in the league, this would be a close race. All three quarterbacks have their own claim to why they are the best passer, even though I still believe Griffin has the strongest case there. But since the award measures the best player rather than passer, the choice is clear.
Robert Griffin III is the best player out of these three and has performed as such. Luck and Wilson are both deserving quarterbacks with blindingly bright futures ahead of them, but right now Griffin is the clear-cut choice.
But while I think Griffin is the clear choice, the award voters may not feel the same way. Tomorrow's set of games will have a huge impact on what happens in the voting. If the Redskins beat the Cowboys and win the division, then Griffin will be the only division winner out of the three. If they lose and the Redskins end up with a wild-card spot, the three will be tied and it's anyone's guess who gets it.
If the Redskins lose and miss the playoffs, that will also be reflected in the eyes of the voters. In that case, I would say Wilson gets the nod because of how Seattle closed out the season. Regardless, it should be a fun race to keep an eye on.