Was this one of the best rookie classes in the history of the National Football League?
It’s easy to make that argument, especially on the offensive side of the field, where a number of rookies made their marks during year one.
Five names jump to the forefront immediately, two running backs and three quarterbacks.
First, there are the backs, Doug Martin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins.
Martin, a rookie out of Boise State, finished the regular season ranked fifth among NFL running backs with 1,454 rushing yards. He also added eleven rushing touchdowns and eleven carries of 20 yards or more during the season. The Tampa Bay rookie helped provide balance to a young offense that also featured Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson in the passing game.
Washington rookie Alfred Morris, who played college ball at Florida Atlantic, rushed for 1,613 yards, forcing Mike Shanahan to stray away from his often-used running back by committee strategy. Morris, who averaged 4.8 yards per carry, had thirteen rushing touchdowns and ranked second among NFL running backs in rushing. Only Adrian Peterson had more yards on the ground.
Even with their great seasons, Martin and Morris arguably were trumped by three rookie quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III (Redskins), Russell Wilson (Seahawks) and Andrew Luck (Colts).
Luck and RGIII have been on the radar since April, considering that they were the top two picks in the 2012 NFL Draft. Wilson, a third-round pick by Seattle, emerged as the season progressed.
But how should each of these three quarterbacks be ranked in the Offensive Rookie of the Year voting? Each set various NFL records, started from week one and helped lead his team to the playoffs.
To help make the decision, some stat lines should be considered, specifically the following categories:
QB Rating: Robert Griffin III (102.4 – 3rd), Russell Wilson (100.0 – 4th), Andrew Luck (76.5 – 26th)
KP’s Take: Statistically, both Griffin III and Wilson are the clear winners here, but in Luck’s defense, he had to throw the ball much more frequently, as the Colts did not have the strong run game to provide balance, while both the Redskins and Seahawks each had that with Alfred Morris and Marshawn Lynch. In the end, the slight edge belongs to Robert Griffin III. Edge: Robert Griffin III
Overall Statistics: Robert Griffin III (3,200 passing yards, 65.6% completion percentage, 20 passing TD, 5 INT, 815 rushing yards, 7 rushing TD), Russell Wilson (3,118 passing yards, 64.1% completion percentage, 26 passing TD, 10 INT, 489 rushing yards, 4 rushing TD), Andrew Luck (4,374 passing yards, 54.1% completion percentage, 23 passing TD, 18 INT, 255 rushing yards, 5 rushing TD)
KP’s Take: Luck’s passing numbers are impressive, but so are Wilson’s passing touchdown totals. RGIII managed over 4,000 total yards of offense with 27 total touchdowns and just five interceptions. This is almost a tossup, but again, the slightest edge may just go to RGIII, what with his total yards, completion percentage and other statistics that narrowly get by Wilson. Edge: Robert Griffin III
Influence of Team Performance: Straight up, if you look at the difference in quarterback rating between a team’s wins and losses, Andrew Luck is at 16.7, RGIII has a 31.7 and Russell Wilson is 40.6. That statistic would point towards Wilson as a major factor when it comes to the performance of his team. Edge: Russell Wilson
Miscellaneous: The following thoughts should not be discounted when analyzing the race between these three rookie quarterbacks:
- The Redskins lost key players on defense, leading to Robert Griffin III and the offense to carry the team at times. The defense improved, while RGIII and Alfred Morris carried the offense to seven straight wins and the NFC East title
- With RGIII out, Washington backup QB Kirk Cousins filled in admirably in a comeback victory over the Ravens and a victory over the Browns the following week.
- Andrew Luck not only played for a team that had just two wins the previous year, but also played the primary role of leading them to eleven wins and a playoff berth.
- Unlike RGIII and Luck, Russell Wilson was drafted in the third round and never close to guaranteed a starting role. After Seattle spent millions on Matt Flynn, Wilson stole away the job and led the Seahawks to the playoffs.
- Complimentary players could easily sway the argument. Wilson had Marshawn Lynch in the run game, while Griffin III had fellow rookie Alfred Morris as a dual-back threat and Luck had Reggie Wayne as a leader. Each of the three had younger players in various positions to rely on, too.
Performance against NFL Playoff Teams: Here’s how the trio performed against playoff teams during the regular season:
Andrew Luck (5 Games: Minnesota, 224 yards, 2 TD, New England, 334 yards, 2TD, 3INT, Green Bay, 362 yards, 2 TD, INT, Houston game 1, 186 yards, 2TD and Houston game 2, 191 yards, 2 TD)
Robert Griffin III (4 Games: Cincinnati, 221 passing yards, 2 total TD – 1 rushing, 74 rushing yards Atlanta, 91 passing yards, 7 rushing yards, Minnesota, 182 passing yards, 3 total TD – 2 rushing, 1 INT, 138 rushing yards, Baltimore, 242 passing yards, 1 TD, 34 rushing yards)
Russell Wilson (5 Games: Green Bay, 130 passing yards, 2 TD, New England, 293 passing yards, 3 TD, San Francisco game 1, 122 passing yards, 1 INT, Minnesota, 173 passing yards, 3 TD, San Francisco game two, 171 passing yards, 4 TD, 1 INT)
KP’s Take: The combined numbers end as: Luck (3-2, 10 TD, 4 INT), Griffin III (2-2, 6 TD, 1 INT) and Wilson (4-1, 12 TD, 2 INT). Edge: Russell Wilson
Of the five candidates listed above, how would you vote for the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year? Do any of the numbers presented change your mind? Would you cast your vote for one of the quarterbacks, one of the running backs, or someone that didn’t make the list entirely?
Personally, I think Andrew Luck lived up to the hype as the league’s top pick, and he clearly has a bright future in Indianapolis. But in the end, he should finish third in the race. I see the vote coming down to RGIII and Russell Wilson. Being a third-round draft pick that had some clear success against solid playoff teams, the edge should go to Wilson, but just barely.
Here’s my final vote for the award, followed by a poll that allows you to pick your winner:
1) Russell Wilson (QB – Seattle)
2) Robert Griffin III (QB – Washington)
3) Andrew Luck (QB – Indianapolis)
4) Alfred Morris (RB – Washington)
5) Doug Martin (RB – Tampa Bay)
Who Will WIN the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award?
- Robert Griffin III (50%, 5 Votes)
- Russell Wilson (50%, 5 Votes)
- Andrew Luck (0%, 0 Votes)
- Alfred Morris (0%, 0 Votes)
- Doug Martin (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 10
The NFL Honors will be announced on February 2, 2013, the day before the Super Bowl