Three teams that were the subject of incompetence and underachievement in 2011 are now in the thick of the playoff hunt. And all three were guided thanks in large part to their rookie quarterbacks.
The resurgent Indianapolis Colts, sitting at 9-5, are led by Andrew Luck, while the Seattle Seahwaks are led by suprising third round pick Russell Wilson, and the Washington Redskins are led by Robert Griffin III. With all of these teams on he brink of reaching the playoffs and having good seasons nonetheless, this begs the question:
Which quarterback is most deserving of Rookie of the Year? At first glance, many will point to Luck, who revitilized the Colts as the successor to current Denver Broncos and future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. And yes, while Luck has indeed had a stellar season, he had the help of an All-Pro veteran receiver in Reggie Wayne, and became part of a pretty stable franchise that has been motivated by head Coach Chuck Pagano's leukemia, which forced him into the hospital early in the season. The addition of Bruce Arians as offensive coordinator, who coached both Peyton Manning early in his career and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, has only aided in his development. Luck, being a rookie has had his bad moments, being one of the league's leaders when it comes to turnovers.
Meanwhile, over in Seattle, Wilson beat out the higher priced Matt Flynn, signed to a $19.5 million contract from the Green Bay Packers, and has come along as the season progressed. But lets us remember that Wilson has the benefit of a strong ground game powered by running back Marshawn Lynch, and a stout, physical defense that has made it difficult for teams to get too much accomplished. They are a dangerous team, especially at home, but Wilson has had more struggles on the road than at home, and still has to show he can do more to really open up Seattle's offense.
But despite the success of both Luck and Wilson, both of them should make way for the more deserving RG3, who is the most deserving of the award of the three.
In the Redskins' opening game against New Orleans in the Superdome, RG3 put on an amazing show in his NFL debut, going 19 of 26 for 320 yards and two touchdowns. Griffin has had the same kind of impact that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had last season in terms of his unique skill set. His strong arm, athleticism, and mobility quickly became evident over the course of the season, and it has allowed offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to open up the offense and do different things. In terms of his rushing ability, he has run for 748 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. In terms of his skill set, he can do a little more than Luck and Wilson in a slowly changing era where the mold of NFL quarterbacks is starting to diversify and incorporate a little more spread offense philosophies, a system in which Griffin excelled in at Baylor.
Another imprtant thing to note is that the Redskins, unlike the Colts and the Seahawks, the Redskins were largely devoid of talent on offense, cycling through quarterbacks every week and lacking consistent explosiveness at running back and especially at wide receiver. But thanks to the addition of RG3 at quarterback, along with the additions of rookie Alfred Morris and fourth year receiver Pierre Garcon, the offense has gained life, and other players have stepped up to the plate. Griffin has quickly become the hope and future of the Redskins in the nation's capital, thanks especially to his unique skill set. Redskins fans have even coined the term "Griffining" in a similar term to the 'Tebowing' phase of 2011, only it's based off of the pose RG3 had when he threw his first touchdown pass, an 88-yard catch and run slant pass to Pierre Garcon.
And even if Griffin's skill set and rookie accomplishments aren't able to beat out Luck or Wilson Rookie of the Year, all of Redskins faithful will still hope to be Griffining for a long time.