Rookie Report Card: Winless as of Monday
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: September 24, 2012
UPDATE 12:10am, 9/25/12: Russell Wilson managed to buck the trend of losing rookie quarterbacks this evening with 130 yards passing, two touchdown throws and no interceptions. Or was it a loss with one touchdown throw and one interception? I think officials are still conferring as I type. Wilson performed in the way we’ve come to expect after two weeks. He managed the game while leaning on Marshawn Lynch’s consistent ability to gain yardage and a defense that looked like it spent as much time in the backfield as Aaron Rodgers. But let’s be honest. The ref’s performance will be the only one worth reviewing tomorrow.
We’ve seen four of the rookie quarterbacks take the field this week, with Seattle’s Russell Wilson facing off tonight against Green Bay. Perhaps Wilson will fare better than his four contemporaries, none of whom earned a win Sunday. We’ll take a quick look at each quarterback’s performance before reviewing the play of a few other rookies.
Robert Griffin III has achieved a level of consistency early in his career. For the second consecutive week, he passed for one touchdown and ran for another. He showed last week’s 82 rushing yards were no fluke, as he ran for 85 yesterday. One area of concern may be RGIII’s ball security. Through three weeks, he’s fumbled the ball four times; just one of those occurred when he was considered a runner.
Andrew Luck put his team in a position to win, leading the offense inside field goal range twice in the final five minutes of the game. An uncharacteristic miss from kicker Adam Vinatieri and defensive collapse that allowed an 80-yard touchdown in the last minute resulted in a Jacksonville win. Luck threw another interception, but reached a career high in rushing with 50 yards. But once again, he demonstrated coolness in the face of adversity, for which he was much-acclaimed at Stanford, with those two fourth quarter drives.
Is it just me, or are Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill mirroring each other week-to-week? This time around, both quarterbacks threw more interceptions than touchdowns (two to one for Weeden, one to zero for Tannehill), but Weeden found more passing success. His 237 yards and 62.7% completion rate trumps Tannehill’s 196 and 44.4%. In fairness to Tannehill, he lost his primary offensive weapon, as Reggie Bush spent much of the game sidelined with a knee injury. Without Bush, the Dolphin’s offense stalled.
Weeden’s key offensive support struggled himself, as rookie Trent Richardson scored one touchdown, but rushed for just 27 yards and caught another 24. It was a far cry from his breakout week against Cincinnati, but he continued to demonstrate keen instincts, especially on his touchdown run, as he bounced off defenders and found his way to the outside for the score. There is no need to worry about Richardson’s future productivity.
Our final player today is not technically a rookie, but did make his NFL debut Sunday. Mikel Leshoure was a second round draft pick for Detroit in 2011. It was believed he would make an immediate impact on a Lions running game in search of a superstar. One Achilles injury and a marijuana-related suspension later, Leshoure finally took to the field this week. The early reaction is that he was worth the wait, as he ran for 100 yards even on 26 carries, including a touchdown. He also caught four passes for 34 yards. The Lions have to be pleased, as they haven’t seen a 100-yard rusher since Kevin Smith hung up 140 against Carolina on September 20th of last year, but we’ll have to see him take on a stouter run defense before crowning him the second coming of Barry Sanders. Tennessee is currently ranked 29th against the run.
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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