Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hey Mel Kiper, Here's Why RG3, Not Andrew Luck, is The Rookie of theYear

Why RG3 is the Rookie of the Year

I read an article by Mel Kiper posting his All-Rookie teamon today. It was pretty straight-forward and predictable except for a glaring omission– this year’s clear-cut Rookie of the Year was left of the team in favor ofthis year’s No. 1 pick.

Here’s Kiper’s reasoning as to why he (wrongly) pickedLuck for the team over Robert Griffin III:


Andrew Luck, Colts:This could have gone to either Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson, and itwouldn't offend most close observers. But if it offends you, before you leap tothe comments to have your say, let me make my case for Luck. The rookie recordfor passing yardage (4,374 yards) is nice, as is that he ran for fivetouchdowns to go with 23 touchdown passes. But he gets the most juice herebecause no team in history has had this kind of a turnaround after drafting atNo. 1, and Luck was the greatest reason the Colts turned it around. Folksaround the NFL will tell you the same thing.

The Colts were 2-14 in2011 and didn't add any significant value in free agency, and this season theywent 11-5. The Colts were 26th in total defense and used numerous rookies onoffense, and Luck was hit more than any other quarterback in the NFL. But hemanaged to improve, get results and deliver late, as evidenced by the sixfourth-quarter comebacks he engineered. RG III was exceptional, too, but losesslight ground because he has a better supporting cast (Washington beat theGiants twice in 2011) and didn't play in one of the huge wins of the season,when Kirk Cousins led the team to a win in Cleveland, which kept Washington'splayoff hopes alive. Wilson has been exceptional, but the defense carried theSeahawks early in the season as he got comfortable. Luck wins here based on hisbody of work over the course of the season, which spearheaded Indy's stunningturnaround. But they're all great.

Let’s start by addressing Kiper’s main argument: Luck didn’thave the supporting cast that RG3 did, and that the turnaround by the Colts from 2-14 to playoffs that was spearheaded by Luck was the most impressive storyline in the ROY debate – and that the Colts’ 26th ranked defense is evidence that Luck was the reason for the Colts’ turnaround.

First of all, this wasn’t last year’s Colts.  Let’s remember that that 2 win team was quarterbacked mainly by Dan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter. Anything with an arm is a noticeable improvement there. Let’s also consider that 2/3 of the Colts roster was overhauled.  There were 35 new players on the Colts this year, so it is in no way the same team as last year from a personnel standpoint.  Let’s also consider that the entire coaching staff was turned over, and that the entire team was riding an unquestionable emotional lift from the heroic battle with cancer that coach Pagano faced.

The Colts GM, Ryan Grigson turned
over practically the entire Colts roster
this year.
The crux of Kiper’s argument is that Luck singe-handedly turned around this team, but he’s failing to even notice that Ryan Grigson turned over the entire offense, defense and special teams.  He then points to the fact that the Redskins beat the Giants twice last year as evidence that the Redskins are a vastly superior team.  Sure, they beat the Giants – an incredibly historic and hated divisional nemesis – but they also lost to the lowly Bills, Dolphins and Vikings. I’d chalk those Giants victories up to a rivalry and good matchup more so than the implied greatness of a 2011 Redskins team that Kiper clearly never watched.

How about we also point out that Luck and the Colts play in the AFC South, not the NFC East – the vastly superior, best division in football that the Redskins play in.  Two games against the Jaguars, two games against the Titans, and games against the Bills, Chiefs, and Lions and we’re already at 7 wins.  The Redskins play in the same division as the Cowboys, the pre-season champ Eagles, and the defending Super Bowl champions, and they ended the season in first as division champions.  Where’s Luck’s division championship? We’ll have to keep waiting; but, as far as RG3 goes, he’s already brushed aside Michael Vick, Tony Romo, and two-time Super Bowl champ Eli Manning.

Kiper makes a great observation that Luck overcame the league’s 26th ranked defense to make the playoffs.  Very impressive, but wouldn’t RG3’s defense being ranked 28th be slightly more impressive?

Apparently RG3 getting hurt for a game and a half hurts his ROY candidacy in Kiper’s mind.  I for one think it strengthens the head to head. Consider that the Redskins and Colts only had one common opponent: the Cleveland Browns.  Luck was able to beat them by 4 points, throwing for 186 yards while RG3’s backup beat them by 17 and threw for 327 yards in the process.  Imagine what would have happened had Griffin played!

Kiper also points to some statistics, but this is where RG3 clearly wins out.  All you have to do is put them side-by-side and you can see who the clear winner is.

RG3 en route to the end zone after a 76 yard run against 
the Vikings
Luck threw for more yardage, but when we look at total yardage, RG3’s Rookie rushing record of 815 yards puts him up over 4,000 yards - a mere 200 total yards behind Luck.  Yardage, even.  How about touchdowns? Luck: 28, RG3: 27.  Touchdowns, even.

In those two categories, the players are essentially tied, but in every other meaningful Quarterback statistic, RG3 wins.  Let’s think about the fact that RG3 was one of the three most efficient passers in the league this year.  He was bested only Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning as the top rated passer in the league this year while setting a Rookie record for QB Rating at 102.4. Luck’s QB Rating?  A measly 26th ranked 76.5 – behind Christian Ponder, Nick Foles, and Blaine Gabbert.

Mark Sanchez was a better statistical
comparison to Luck than RG3 - similar QB
rating, comp. percentage, and turnovers. 
RG3 also completed 65.6% of his passes this year - another rookie record - and good for the league’s fourth best, just behind Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers.  Luck? 54.1%, ranked 31st in the league, and he had a worse completion percentage than these symbols of passing accuracy: Blaine Gabbert, Matt Cassel, Michael Vick, and Mark Sanchez.

Luck is intercepted by the Bears Tim Jennings in week 

I wonder why Luck’s completion percentage was so low.  Maybe it’s because he was throwing the ball to the wrong team.  He threw EIGHTEEN interceptions this year. Combine that with his 9 fumbles, and we have the NFL’s second most turnovers at TWENTY-SEVEN (only Mark Sanchez had more)! Luck was good for 1.6 turnovers a game this year.

On the flip side of that coin, RG3 had 5 interceptions and 3 fumbles.  Luck had almost as many interceptions for touchdowns as RG3 had total interceptions (3 to 5).  Overall turnovers: 27-5 in favor of RG3.

Kiper’s fatal flaw is thinking that ROY is a team award.  It’s not. It’s an individual award.  But even if it was a team award, then RG3 wins there. Of the three rookie QB’s in the playoffs, he’s the only one who won the division.  Add to that that he won it in the NFC East – the NFL’s premier division, and it just becomes a no-brainer.  He also happens to be the only one of these three guys to make the pro-bowl.

If all of that isn’t good enough to sway you, then how about we let Osi Umenyiora tell you: "That’s the best quarterback we’ve played this year, for sure. It’s just unfortunate that he’s a rookie, because he’s going to be around here forever, doing stuff like that. That’s just crazy.”
RG3 celebrates an NFC East crown in his first year.

Or Justin Tuck: "I’m pretty mad at the football gods for putting him in the NFC East. To face that guy twice a year is going to be a headache. He takes away from your enthusiasm for the game a little bit, when you play a play perfectly and he still has 4.3 speed to run by guys and makeplays. A guy like him, I don’t think there is anybody in the league just likehim,”

RG3 won his division, was one of the league’s top rated passers, didn’t hurt his team with turnovers, made the pro-bowl, and was themost dangerous and dynamic player in the league this year - ask the guys who played against him. The big difference here is that Luck had a great rookie season, but RG3 had a great season.  That’s why he’s not just the clear-cut Rookie of the Year, but a legitimate MVP candidate.