Rookie Report Card: Tannehill, Wilson and Luck All Post Wins
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: September 18, 2012
In this week’s Rookie Report Card, we see RGIII improve upon his running game, but no need for “good, bad and ugly” this time: all five quarterbacks impressed on the field.
This is a tie between Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden and Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but Tannehill has the edge, as Miami joined the 1-1 club with a win Sunday. Reggie Bush didn’t do everything, but he was awfully close: 172 yards rushing with two touchdowns. Tannehill rushed for a touchdown himself, as well as tossing another to tight end Anthony Fasano. Sure, the Raiders defense looked suspect at best, but sometimes a boost in confidence is all a team needs to start clicking. Since everyone’s knotted up top in the AFC East after one week, maybe all hope isn’t lost. (But don’t hold your breath.)
Brandon Weeden looked like a completely different quarterback in the Week 2 Battle of Ohio. His Cleveland Browns ultimately lost, but looked promisingly good in the process. Weeden passed for 322 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions, while fellow rookie Trent Richardson looked fantastic. He posted his first 100-yard rushing game, running for a touchdown and catching another (that required him to make what looked like a sea of Bengals defenders miss tackles). As with the Dolphins, the win is somewhat marred by a Bengals defense that hasn’t yet performed to 2011 standards, but this was an absolute moral victory. Here’s hoping the rookies Weeden and Richardson keep bringing some offense back to Cleveland.
Andrew Luck proved why the Colts selected him with their first pick in his final drive against Minnesota. Although Indianapolis had built a comfortable, two-touchdown lead going into the fourth quarter, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder marched his team down the field and threw two touchdown passes in under five minutes. Luck responded to the tied score with a sharp drive of his own, needing 25 seconds to lead his team within field goal range. Kicker Adam Vinatieri, Mr. Clutch himself, iced the game with a 53-yarder. Luck failed to break the 300 plateau again, throwing for 224 yards, but threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions. His chemistry with receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Coby Fleener is developing nicely, so good things should be in store for Indy’s offense.
Similar Game, just a Different Outcome:
Robert Griffin III continued to impress Sunday, throwing for a touchdown and rushing for two more, but he did commit his first NFL turnover in a frustrating loss St. Louis. The outcome of this game was affected by Redskins receiver Josh Morgan, who committed a costly penalty after catching a pass that would have set up kicker Billy Cundiff for a game-tying, 47-yard field goal. Morgan lost his cool against chippy Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan, throwing the football at him and earning a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Needless to say, Cundiff (he of the AFC Championship missed kick) missed the 62-yarder and the Skins fell to 1-1. Agonizing penalties aside, Griffin continued to demonstrate poise and good decision-making against a much-improved Rams defense. Fellow rookie Alfred Morris posted a less successful second outing, likely due to the emphasis on Griffin’s run game. It will be interesting to see if Morris will be relegated to fewer carries each game, or if a balance will be struck between the two.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson posted a nearly identical game against the visiting Dallas Cowboys (two fewer yards at 151, one touchdown and one less interception with zero), but the rest of the team stepped up tremendously. A physical Seahawks defense bullied the Cowboys all afternoon, and its offense wasn’t afraid to mix things up either (case in point: receiver Golden Tate’s vicious block on Dallas linebacker Sean Lee). Ball security may be a bit of an issue for Wilson, who did fumble the ball during one of his eight rushes throughout the game, but he’s demonstrated a competent control over Seattle’s offense through the first two weeks. The NFC West sure does look good.
Kim O'Hara is the Assocate 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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