Week 4 Rookie Report Card: Tannehill throws for 400, RGIII drives to victory
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: October 01, 2012
That Tannehill kid might be alright, after all. The rookies posted just one win again this week, going 1-3 with Andrew Luck’s Indanapolis Colts on their bye. We’ll once again review each rookie quarterback’s performance to see how (or if) they’re improving.
We usually like to start with a victorious effort, but Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill torched Arizona for 431 yards this week. Before Sunday, the Cardinals had been allowing about 228.7 yards per game. Tannehill gets first-listed honors in Week 4 for being the first rookie quarterback to break the 400-yard barrier, but his ball security continues to be a major area of concern. He threw two interceptions (to just one touchdown) and lost a costly fumble late in the fourth quarter, setting up Arizona with good field position for its game-tying touchdown drive. All the passing yardage in the world won't matter if it doesn't result in points on the board.
After being stymied by teammates' wreckless personal foul penalties and false start flags in two previous comeback attempts, Robert Griffin III finally led a successful game-winning drive at Tampa Bay. Griffin threw for 323 yards with no interceptions and rushed for an additional 43, including one touchdown. He would have had a second rushing touchdown but fumbled the ball into the end zone, where it was recovered by receiver Pierre Garçon, who was credited with the score. Griffin continues to demonstrate a sophisticated eye for reading defenses and often has his team within striking distance. It’s important that Griffin keep up this level of productivity and maintains his health, because the Redskins’ injury-plagued defense will need offensive support. Washington is going to have to outscore opponents to get wins, and right now, Griffin looks more than up to the task.
Griffin’s fellow rookie, running back Alfred Morris, should take some weight of the run game off his quarterback’s shoulders. He looked terrific against the Buccaneers, rushing for 113 yards and a touchdown. Head coach Mike Shanahan and his son/offensive coordinator Kyle would be well-served to defer to Morris as the primary ball carrier, as he has proven capable of the responsibility. In Weeks 2 and 3, Griffin and Morris essentially split rushing duty. In yesterday’s win, Morris had 21 carries to Griffin’s seven.
Brandon Weeden had his team in a position to tie or beat the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, which is no easy feat. He passed for over 300 yards again, throwing one interception and no touchdowns. Unfortunately for Weeden, he has gotten very little support from his receivers. Receiver Greg Little has the physical attributes to become a reliable target for the rookie quarterback, but continues to drop passes, most notably in the end zone with four and a half minutes left to play. Had Little held onto Weeden’s pass (which was far from perfectly placed, but still catchable), the Browns would have come within a field goal of their divisional rival with time for one more drive. Still, for Weeden to face a defense as tough as Baltimore and stand his ground counts as massive improvement from his NFL debut less than a month ago. Rookie running back Trent Richardson continued his three-game scoring streak with a touchdown and accounted for 104 yards in total offense.
It looked like Russell Wilson came back to earth yesterday in St. Louis. His yardage was on par with previous performances (160 yards versus his three week average of 144.7), but his season-high three interceptions to zero touchdowns left the Seahawks scrambling for four quarters. Once again, the Seahawks defense kept Wilson and the offense in the game (all 19 Rams points were scored on special teams plays), and running back Marshawn Lynch continued to do his part with 118 yards rushing and a touchdown.
The other four starting rookie quarterbacks are forced to overcome glaring inefficiencies within their teams. Wilson is fortunate to have the support of a top five defense and the NFL’s number one running back, but such support may be a double-edged sword. If Wilson isn’t able to start producing more convincingly in the coming weeks, head coach Pete Carroll may be inclined to look backup Matt Flynn’s way. They’re paying him way too much to sit on the bench all season, especially if Wilson continues to underperform.
Kim O'Hara is the Associate Editor of TheFootballGirl.com. She is an avid fan of sports in general, but the NFL in particular. She has also been a contributor to ESPN the Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @arahomik
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