Robert Griffin III was alright yesterday. He threw balls, ran around, set records, and had a historical day.
How historical? Welp, his first touchdown pass was an 88-yarder to Pierre Garcon, and that was the longest ever first career TD pass by a QB in modern NFL history. He also became the first player to throw for over 300 yards, and have two touchdown passes without an interception in his debut, and he did it all while maintaining a 139.9 passer rating.
We’re one year removed from the insanity of Cam Newton during the opening week, and it was difficult to even envision anyone coming close to that again. I’m not sure why, though, because as I write almost daily, we’re only beginning to ascend the mountain of what should be a long and wondrous passing era, which will make those running back contracts decline even further (sorry, Maurice).
But here’s what I fear. This isn’t meant to take anything away from RG3, who’s blessed with tremendous talent and athletic ability. However, he’s in the most ideal situation to thrive out of all the five rookie quarterbacks, and we can almost make that six since Jake Locker also made his first NFL start yesterday. Griffin’s early success combined with the absurdity of Newton and to a lesser extent Andy Dalton last year will make tolerating the mistakes of rookie quarterbacks a thing of the past.
Let’s be blunt: the rest of the rookies mostly sucked yesterday, with the exception of Russell Wilson, who had a weak start but redeemed himself during a second half when he almost led a game-winning drive that was aided by an extra timeout (still love you too, replacement refs). Wilson completed 52 percent of his passes, a clip that resides somewhere between the lowly levels of Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez circa 2011.
While Wilson was a little bit better than average and Griffin was historically good, Brandon Weeden was historically pathetic. He threw four interceptions, and finished with a passer rating of 5.1. As noted everywhere on the Internet, that sounds eerily similar to the 5.02 career minor league ERA that prompted him to give up his dream of becoming an MLB pitcher.
Then there’s Ryan Tannehill, whom we all expected to fail immediately due to his utter lack of any supporting cast whatsoever, and he kindly met those expectations, throwing three picks of his own. That equaled the number of INTs thrown by the king of all rookie QBs, Andrew Luck, who had brief flashes of effectiveness against the Bears, but he often looked uncomfortable in the pocket. Add his fumble and he had four turnovers, and his pick to Tim Jennings came on a drastically underthrown ball.
Tally it up, and rookie quarterbacks were responsible for 11 interceptions yesterday. In fantasy, only RG3 is now worthy of starting consistently. That’s not an overreaction to his Week 1 results, but is again a reflection of the situation he’s in, and the weapons he has to work with. Luck will recover quickly, and you can feel free to slide him in if you have bye or injury issues, or poor matchups elsewhere. And Wilson is an intriguing sleeper due to his ability to add rushing yards to his passing totals, but there’s little reason for Tannehill to be on any roster in any capacity unless you’re in a deep or dynasty league.
In reality, though, the growth of the passing game shouldn’t change the fact that this league simply isn’t easy, and the adjustment for rookies is never immediate, no matter how much slobber we dripped on them back in April.
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