The 2012-2013 NFL season has finally come to a close and with the Wild Card playoff games looming in the next few days it is time to start discussing who gets their hands on certain individual achievement awards. This season in particular is a sports bloggers dream as there is plenty to debate and every side is deeply entrenched on their own side. I might begin by discussing who wins Comeback Player of the Year or MVP (probably the same person). Today I will be discussing who wins the Rookie of the Year award and who Should win.
This race has certainly become a 3 horse race with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson all very deserving of getting this honor. To help sway those of you who are not on the Andrew Luck ROY bandwagon I figured I should breakdown these 3 fine gentlemen’s seasons and prove through hard evidence that the Colt’s rookie signal-caller rightfully deserves to win this award.
252 Completions, 393 Attempts, 3,118 yds. 26 TD 10 INT
Russell Wilson is one of the best rookie stories this season. Drafted by the Seahawks in the 3rd round, the diminutive Wilson knew he would be coming in with a chip on his shoulder. Even more surprisingly was that Wilson was drafted right after Seahawk management forked over big money to the Green Bay Packer’s Matt Flynn to be their future quarterback. It was in training camp that Head Coach Pete Carroll ultimately decided to go with the ultra-competitive quarterback out of Wisconsin. It is a decision that has proven to be wish as the Seahawks will be playing in the playoffs on Sunday. It’s too bad for Wilson that this particular season had to be his rookie season, because he would probably have won the ROY award had it not for other guys (1st round picks) Luck and Griffin getting all the attention. He leads all rookies with the most touchdowns, 26, and has a high completion and passer rating. You might be wondering then why he won’t win!
Honestly, his team is too good. By now everyone has become aware that the Seahawks are hiding a very good defense up in the Pacific Northwest. One that boasts a secondary full of tough, athletic, and long defensive backs. Now pair that with a stout offensive line and a Pro-Bowl runningback who had over 1,500 yards this season and almost any capable quarterback should be able to pass for those type of numbers when you can use play-action to your advantage. Sorry Russell, if Luck doesn’t get ROY then you’re my guy, but I think you have too many things against you, most importantly being you are located in a division people don’t care about.
Robert Griffin III
258 Completions, 393 Attempts, 3,200 yds. 20 TD 5 INT
Here’s the guy that has taken the NFL by storm this season. There was much doubt about what kind of pro player Griffin would be and how his style of play would transfer into a pro system where rookie quarterbacks, and Heisman winners, have come and gone quickly. Griffin, and more importantly the Washington Redskins have learned how to work together and have created one of the NFL’s most dangerous offenses. The one knock against Griffin is his slight build and whether he could handle himself if he were to get “laid out” by a guy like DeMarcus Ware or Justin Tuck. Certainly his numbers would be much better his season if he had not gotten hurt and played in 2 full NFL games this season. While he has the lowest turnover rate of all the rookie passers and he has also rushed for over 700 yards on the ground he shouldn’t win the ROY award either.
Much like Russell Wilson in Seattle benefiting from having a solid run game, Griffin also has a bruising, halfback in fellow rookie Alfred Morris. Morris this season has been huge for the Redskins running for over 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns! Just like Marshawn Lynch benefits the Seahawks by allowing for the use of the play action pass, Morris has been able to do the same. It is play action where Griffin really lights it up as he is able to launch the ball with that “grenade launcher” he calls an arm to his speedy wide receiving corps. Griffin also benefits from having a good offensive line complete with a Pro-Bowl left tackle in Trent Williams this season. His defense, while not at all like the Seahawks, is stout and can harden when it needs to. The one thing that really makes RGIII impressive is that he plays in the NFC East, one of the NFL’s tougher divisions. Not only does he play in this rough division, but his team is the only one from that division in the playoffs!
RGIII will probably win the ROY award because he is the real deal and he is a born leader. He also is in one of the most profitable markets in the NFL being in Washington D.C. He has been sensational this season, but what if I told you he isn’t even the rookie who broke the Redskins passing record for a game this season. It was 4th round draft pick out of Michigan State, Kirk Cousins who threw for 329 yards and a win against the Eagles while RGIII was nursing an injury. So is it RGIII or the system that Kyle Shanahan is running for him Washington? Honestly, I really think that it is RGIII and not some system, but I just don’t see how you can give the ROY award to a guy who missed 2 games and who had his fellow rookie backup throw for more yards than him in a game this season. Unfortunately, the Cousins win is probably already forgotten by both Redskins fans and the mainstream sports media so might as well just give it to RGIII!
339 Completions, 627 Attempts, 4,374 yds. 23 TD 18 INT
So here he is Colts fans the guy we are hoping will lead us to a victory on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. Andrew Luck, the first pick in the draft and the guy who won an unprecedented 11 games this year after Indy only one 2 last season! Ultimately, though that doesn’t matter to the people that vote on things like who the best rookie is this year. What they are going to look at are the things like his 18 interceptions and 10 fumbles. If people were wondering whether or not #12 would be anything like Peyton Manning then he surely did his best to try and match Manning for his career high 31 turnovers his rookie year. Something that was overlooked in 1998 as Manning was still able to snag the Rookie of the Year honors that year. 1998 and 2012 are two completely different eras in the NFL nowadays. With rule changes and college coaches doing a better job preparing these young players for the pros a lot more is expected out of rookies in the NFL today.
The reason that Andrew Luck deserves ROY is because not only did he break the rookie record for passing yardage this season (passing more than most other veteran quarterbacks around the league), but he did it with so many circumstances pushing against him. The circumstances are as follows: 1) he is playing in a stadium that Peyton Manning helped build playing the same position, 2) he is playing on a team that was 2-14 last season with most of its veteran core completely gutted this season, 3) he is playing almost entirely with rookies on offense save for a future Hall of Famer in Reggie Wayne, 4) unlike Wilson and Griffin he doesn’t have a running game even remotely close to those two, 5) the Colt’s offensive line has been a total caurosel of injuries and has blocked poorly at times as well, 6) he has thrown the ball almost as much as Wilson and Griffin combined, 7) with the Colt’s defense not being all that good this season that has put Luck in the position of having to play from behind on many possessions, 8) with Chuck Pagano being diagnosed with cancer and Offensive Coordinator being named interim Head Coach Luck lost a lot of developmental time and one-on-one time with his coordinator.
So there you have it. It almost seems unlikely that anybody else could win the ROY award when you start looking at all the evidence at hand, but you should know that this is as much as a popularity contest than an award that rewards players who have been the most outstanding rookie at their position. All these rookies could win this award, but I think that Luck has shown that he is the man that deserves it. All that said, I think the hype surrounding Robert Griffin III will be too much. Just read <a href= “http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/8813105/2013-nfl-playoffs-jim-irsay-big-gambles-indianapolis-colts”>Skip Bayless’ article</a> condemning the Colt’s franchise for not picking RGIII and pretty much saying that Luck was the dumbest thing we could have ever done as a franchise. If you’re a Colt’s fan it will piss you off!