Breaking Down How Rookie QBs Will Be Exposed in the Playoffs
To say the 2012 class of rookie quarterbacks has been exceptional would be the understatement of the century. This group of players have exceeding every expectation placed upon them to have a truly special regular season.
However, the regular season is over, and now, the playoffs begin for the top three rookie quarterbacks in the league. Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III all play this weekend in what will likely be their first of many playoff games.
Today, we are going to be breaking down how these three rookie quarterbacks will be exposed in the playoffs.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
How He'll Be Exposed: Taking Away Marshawn Lynch
What Russell Wilson has done this year for the Seattle Seahawks has been simply brilliant. He's easily been one of the top rookies this season and should even get some serious consideration for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
However, Wilson hasn't been forced to be the majority of his team's offense like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have been. This doesn't take away from how fantastic Wilson has been, but it could spell trouble in the playoffs.
You see, quarterbacks are what ultimately win games in the playoffs. Look at the last handful of Super Bowl winners, and you see names like Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. A team needs its quarterback to play at an extremely high level and be able to win games.
Wilson hasn't been asked to do that too often this season for Seattle, and the Washington Redskins' gameplan should be to do everything in their power to force Wilson to win this game. The best way to do that is to take away Lynch from the game.
If the Redskins can slow down Lynch, they'll expose the lack of experience that Wilson has in being the sole provider of offense for Seattle. For example, the last time the Seahawks lost was in Week 12 to the Miami Dolphins. Miami held Lynch to only 46 rushing yards and was able to come away with the win.
Considering that Washington is only allowing 95.8 rushing yards a game, it could be rather successful in its attempt of exposing Wilson.
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
How He'll Be Exposed: Lack of Big Plays; Taking Away Short Passes
No player has been as dynamic and exciting to watch this season as Robert Griffin III. No defense has been as dominant and physical this season as the Seattle Seahawks. Simply put, this wild-card matchup should be one of the best matchups in recent memory.
While Griffin has been exceptional this season, there are a few ways that the Seahawks can expose him. First, Seattle needs to keep Griffin from making big plays. This may sound rather difficult, but it certainly has the personnel to do it.
The Seahawks don't need to be worried about big passing plays thanks to their secondary, so they'll be able to focus on keeping Griffin from making things happen with his feet. Secondly, the Seahawks needs to take away the short passes and the dump-off passes that Griffin loves.
This simply puts Griffin in a rhythm and allows the Redskins to do so much with their offense. When Griffin can force a defense to spend so much time worrying about short passes, he can then wait for an opportunity to make a big play down the field.
As long as the Seahawks can successfully do these two things, their defense should be able to take advantage of opportunities and slow Griffin down.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
How He'll Be Exposed: Pressure, Pressure, Pressure
Of all the rookie quarterbacks, Andrew Luck definitely has the toughest matchup in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. The Baltimore Ravens are no slouch on the defensive side of the football, and they know how to make life difficult for a young quarterback.
No rookie quarterback was asked to do more for his team than Luck was this season. While Russell Wilson finished the year with 10 interceptions and Robert Griffin III only had five, Luck had a whopping 18 interceptions.
Not only does this show that Luck was needed to do more to get the Indianapolis Colts to 11 wins, but it also shows that Luck can make poor decisions when he is faced with pressure.
While the Ravens defense hasn't been nearly as good as it has in the past, this is still a group of players who can make impact plays. As long as guys like Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Haloti Ngata can get consistent pressure on Luck, they should get some opportunities to make big plays on defense.