Now that the regular season is over, it is time to determine who should win the offensive rookie of the year award. There are three candidates that over the course of the season have proven themselves to be the best of the best of the rookie class: Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Alfred Morris.
You may have noticed a significant absence in the list. Andrew Luck, the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts and the first overall draft pick, is not, or at least should not, be a contender for the offensive rookie of the year. While Luck has had a solid season, especially in helping his team reach the playoffs as the fifth seed, his numbers simply don’t stack up when compared to Griffin, Wilson or Morris. Luck ranks 26th in passer rating (76.5), 31st in completion percentage (54.1), 17th in yards per attempt (6.98) and is tied for the third most amount of interceptions thrown with 18.
Luck has been alright, and he will more than likely have a good, if not great, career, but he is nowhere near deserving consideration for the offensive rookie of the year, not this year at least.
So then, the question remains, who should win the award: Griffin, Wilson or Morris?
All three have had fantastic seasons. It was expected that RGIII would play well, after all, he was the second overall pick, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and the Redskins traded more picks than anyone had ever before so that they could draft him. No one could have predicted how well Wilson and (especially) Morris would play, though.
The Seahawks selected Wilson in the third round; Morris wasn’t picked until the sixth round. And yet Wilson tied the record for most touchdowns thrown by a rookie quarterback with 26 and helped his team win 11 games, and all Morris did was rush for 1,613 yards—a Redskins’ franchise record for yards in a season, the second most in the NFL this season and the third most by a rookie running back in NFL history—and 13 touchdowns, only two behind Arian Foster’s NFL leading 15.
Griffin and Wilson had fairly similar numbers. RGIII had a better quarterback rating than Wilson (102.4 versus 100.0) and a better completion percentage (65.6 versus 64.1). Wilson threw for six more touchdowns than Griffin, but he also threw five more interceptions. Griffin also had the edge over Wilson in terms of passing yardage, yards per attempt, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
While the numbers are close, Griffin has a slight statistical advantage over Wilson. Griffin separates himself from Wilson though, because he was significantly more important to his team than Wilson.
Though both quarterbacks had a great running back to compliment them, Griffin didn’t have the benefit of having a great defense to rely on. The Seahawks defense ranked fourth in the NFL in yards per game and first in points per game. The Redskins defense ranked 22nd in points per game and 28th in yards per game. Griffin also had to play a significant portion of the season without his two best receivers, Fred Davis and Pierre Garcon.
Take away Wilson from the Seahawks and they still may have reached the playoffs, or at least finished .500. Take Griffin from the Redskins and they don’t win more than five games if they’re lucky.
Alfred Morris had an unbelievable season, an all-pro caliber season. If Adrian Peterson wasn’t a superhuman, than Morris would have had the best season of any running back in the NFL.
He isn’t the rookie of the year though.
For as good as he was, and he was truly great, Morris would not have been as successful without Griffin. The constant of threat of RGIII running the ball, and the fact that defenses always had to respect him, opened up lanes for Morris to run through.
So while all three rookies had fantastic seasons, Robert Griffin III was the most dynamic and the most exceptional. So quite simply, he should be the offensive rookie of the year.