Gregg Rosenthal will watch every rookie quarterback snap all season. He's ranking them every Tuesday based on that week's performance only because no one else is up for the task.
If "The Rookie Wall" exists, the big four rookie quarterbacks this season are showing no signs of running into it. RG3 is playing his best football. Russell Wilson continues his upward trajectory. All top four rookie quarterbacks -- sorry Brandon Weeden -- played very well in Week 12. The top choice wasn't that hard, though:
He's played his best in his most high-profile games, against the Giants and Cowboys. Griffin was so good against Dallas that one of his worst throws turned into a long touchdown by Pierre Garcon anyway. His accuracy was uncanny. When Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins jumped a route, Griffin threw the ball to the back shoulder. His touchdown to Santana Moss was into a tiny window. The Redskins are so hard to stop in short-yardage situations.
Griffin is already one of the best quarterbacks in the league at playfakes. He froze the Cowboys linebackers and safeties so many times. They caught Cowboys safety Danny McCray flat-footed often and led to big plays. Griffin was pressured a lot and got right up after taking big hits.
The key moment was after Griffin threw a fourth quarter interception. It was suddenly a one-score game and Griffin responded with an 11-play, 50-yard field goal drive to ice it. Onions.
It was impossible to separate Tannehill, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck this week. All three played very well, but Tannehill goes first because of his magical fourth quarter: Two 80-yard touchdown drives and a 62-yard field goal drive in 92 seconds.
We love how he tested the weak spots of the Seattle secondary, picking on cornerback Marcus Trufant and their linebackers. In one quarter against one of the best defenses in football, Tannehill was 7-of-8 passing for 156 yards. These weren't dump offs.
He also had a crucial 15-yard run on the final drive and rushed for 33 yards overall. Tannehill was very accurate, but made a terrible decision in the first quarter on an interception thrown across his body. The same thing happened in the fourth quarter on the goal line, but he was bailed out by a personal foul that erased the mistake. Mistakes aside, Tannehill has shown more than enough to prove he's a franchise guy.
The Colts offense only scored 13 points against Buffalo, so I expected a worse game out of Luck. He played well overall, largely because Bruce Arians treats him like a veteran. Backed against their own goal line late in the first half, Arians called for an empty backfield, shotgun set. Most coaches run the ball three times in that scenario. The aggression eventually led to points. With 3:27 left in the game and a seven-point lead -- again on their own goal line -- Arians had Luck throwing. Buffalo had no timeouts left by the time it was third-and-9 with 1:48 left. Instead of milking the clock with a run like almost all coaches, Luck got to throw and drew a pass interference. Game over.
Buffalo may have provided a preview for how teams will approach Luck down the stretch. The Bills flooded his passing lanes by dropping seven men into coverage. That made Luck hesitant to pull the trigger early, but he adjusted. The team had a 12-play, 82-yard drive and a 15-play, 87-yard drive. He took what they gave him. The Colts weren't able to go deep like they prefer, but they were effective.
Luck gets bonus points because his running game was a huge negative and his protection broke down too much. And he finished the game with the ball.
Wilson was put into too many third-and-long situations because Marshawn Lynch was shut down and Seattle had way too many pre-snap penalties. Seattle often played it safe by running or throwing a dump-off pass, but Wilson also made a handful of terrific plays. Watch the play below where a free blitzer comes at Wilson. He spins away and throws a deep pass up the sideline on the move. Wow.
Wilson is staying in the pocket more and mixing in great improvisational play. That's a tough combination to deal with. He had 16 straight completions at one point, but only scored 14 points on 10 drives, not always taking advantage of good field position.
Pete Carroll is the anti-Bruce Arians. The Seahawks punted on fourth-and-1 on the Miami 39-yard line. Wilson also threw an ill-advised screen pass and took a sack when they were in position to go ahead late in the game. Ultimately, he played well enough to win, but the Seahawks defense and running game let him down.
Weeden gets spotless protection week after week and doesn't always take advantage. His accuracy has suffered lately. He missed a lot of throws when no one was around him against Pittsburgh. His only interception came on a tipped pass, but he was lucky to avoid a couple of other picks. Seventeen points came off Steelers turnovers. Weeden really only had to make one nice pass to score those 17 points. Those drives were about field position and Trent Richardson.
Weeden always has a couple of big arm, strength throws that impress, but he's the one rookie starter that is trending in the wrong direction lately. He may get a week off because of his concussion. Don't be surprised if Colt McCoy produces with this Browns offense.
We haven't watched Lindley's full game yet and plan to later this week. We'll put him sixth for now because he did lead a few nice touchdown drives early in the game before the avalanche of interceptions truly started.
Foles' numbers (119 yards on 21 attempts) were not great and they could have been a lot worse. At least three or four of his passes could have been picked off. The speed of the game seemed to be too much for Foles, and the Eagles coaching staff smartly did not take many risks considering all the injuries around Foles. He's in a tough spot, but doesn't look ready.
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