|Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson (from left to right) are all deserving candidates for top rookie.|
Andrew Luck set the rookie record for passing yards (4,138 and counting) and helped turn a 2-14 Indianapolis Colts team into a playoff squad in a single season. Robert Griffin III has the NFL's second-highest QB rating, has only tossed five interceptions and has the Washington Redskins on the cusp of a division title. Russell Wilson has the most touchdown passes of all three (25) and his Seattle Seahawks are the scariest team in the league right now. So, who gets your vote for Offensive Rookie of the Year?
Don't discount another Redskin, but give the award to LuckYou can name any one of them and be right. You can argue Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris should be in the discussion, too. He has been the one constant in the Redskins' offense this year. (Remember, Griffin missed one game and did not finish two others.) Morris has a good chance to break the Redskins' single-season rushing record in Week 17.
However, I am going with Andrew Luck. He has lead his team to a 10-5 record, which is the same number of wins as Seattle and one more than Washington. Luck has had seven fourth-quarter comebacks, which fall squarely on his shoulders. He has won these games with less talent around him than either of the other two quarterbacks. He does not have a great defense and rushing attack. (Seattle does.) He doesn't have the top rushing offense. (Washington does.)
Yes, Luck has thrown a high number of interceptions (18). Some of those are a product of bad decision-making, but Luck is asked to throw downfield more than the other two quarterbacks. I don't penalize him as much for that, since he is doing this without the benefit of a top rushing attack that sets up the play-action and bootleg game.
Hands down, RG3 should win over Luck and WilsonFirst things first: Any one of the quarterbacks easily would win the award in a normal season. With that out of the way, I don't think this race should be close. Robert Griffin III has been the most consistent, steady, explosive force since Week 1. I already spent 1,000 words on this topic, but here's the short version:
Voting for Russell Wilson basically requires ignoring the first half of the season. The Seahawks' offense was hiding him. He was far, far down the list of reasons they were winning. Pete Carroll admitted it. Andrew Luck was my pick through the first half of the year, but he has struggled with accuracy for at least five weeks. All of the hits he's taken are adding up. Griffin missed one start, but he's been a top-10 NFL quarterback since the day he stepped on the field. He deserves the award.
Give it to Wilson for making the Seahawks a legit NFC title contenderFunny, just a few weeks ago, I was ready to give the award to Andrew Luck. But Russell Wilson is clearly the Offensive Rookie of the Year right now.
Let's not take away what Luck and Robert Griffin III have done. The Colts are already in the playoffs, and the Redskins control their own destiny. But both teams likely are done after the first round. Wilson has not only led his team to the playoffs, but his Seahawks are the hottest team in the NFL right now and might even be poised for a long postseason run. In fact, they are my pick in the NFC at the moment.
A lot of the credit belongs to Wilson. He not only overcame the odds of being a third-round draft pick -- and getting selected behind Brandon Weeden, Ryan Tannehill, Brock Osweiler, Kirk Cousins and Nick Foles -- but he also had to beat out Matt Flynn, who signed a big free-agent deal with Seattle in the offseason.
Forget just the rookie talk: Wilson might be the best quarterback in football right now, and he should start to sneak into the MVP conversation.
For what he did and how he did it, there's no other choice but LuckI realize we're splitting hairs because they're all terrific. With no slight to Robert Griffin or Russell Wilson, there's no other choice but Andrew Luck.
Wilson joined a team that already was pretty good, with a terrific running back and a defense that plays hellacious football at home. RG3 did plenty to lift his team this season, but he was helped by another stud running back (Alfred Morris) who helped take the pressure off him.
What kind of team did Luck inherit? One that went 2-14 a year ago and was clearly the worst team in the league. The roster, other than Luck, looked the same as 2011 from a talent perspective. And yet, Luck did what Peyton Manning did before him: turn the Colts into a contender when their roster told otherwise. He turned Reggie Wayne back into a star and made threats out of T.Y. Hilton and Donnie Avery. His best running back was Vick Ballard, who clearly is not in the league of Marshawn Lynch and Alfred Morris. And THIS team, without head coach Chuck Pagano, still got to 10 wins? There's a reason why Luck went No. 1 overall.