It has always been said that NFL rookies will eventually hit that dreaded “Rookie Wall” at some point during their first season. These rookies are used to playing 12 games throughout high school and college, so between the weekly grind of playing 16 games in the NFL, as well as learning and going through so much both physically and emotionally, you can see why many rookies struggle to complete a full 16 game schedule and perform just as well in the second half as they did in the first half of the season. We saw it with Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers last season, and it appears we are seeing it start to happen to Robert Griffin III with the Washington Redskins in 2012.
The same, however, cannot be said of Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts and Doug Martin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With each passing game, these two seem to only get better.
Well, with each running week as it pertains to Martin.
All joking aside, there is no doubt that Griffin III started his rookie season as well as any rookie in the history of the NFL. He led the Redskins to an early 3-3 record, and his numbers were toward the top in many offensive categories for all NFL quarterbacks, and not just among rookies. He was throwing touchdowns, he was running for touchdowns and he was just making big plays every game.
The same cannot be said of how Griffin III has done over the past three games, which have all resulted in losses for the Redskins. His completion percentage has gone down in his last four starts, and the ‘Skins have suffered on offense because of Griffin III’s struggles. It all culminated with a bad home loss against the Carolina Panthers, a game in which Griffin III failed to account for a touchdown of any kind for just the second time in his pro career. Washington lost the other game in which Griffin III failed to register a score as well.
On the flip side, Luck is living up to every lofty expectation that everyone had when the Colts drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. On a team who nobody expected would compete for much of anything in 2012, Luck has the Colts fighting for a playoff spot after another big win on Sunday against the also surprisingly improved Miami Dolphins, led by fellow signal caller Ryan Tannehill. Luck has now led the Colts to three straight victories and a 5-3 record.
But it is not just that he is winning, but rather how he is winning with Indianapolis. Luck set a rookie passing record for yards in a single game yesterday with 433 against the Dolphins and what had been a pretty solid defense over the past few games. He has already thrown for more than 300 yards in four games this season, and also just missed a fifth such performance by three yards two weeks ago. Simply put, Luck is having a rookie season for the ages.
That is also true of Martin with the Buccaneers. If you didn’t believe in his ability before Sunday, he certainly made you a believer against the Oakland Raiders.
After having his breakout performance two weeks ago with his first career 100 yard rushing day against the Minnesota Vikings, Martin came close to setting records on Sunday against the Raiders. The rookie from Boise State carried the ball 25 times for 251 yards. If that was not enough, he scored on four of those runs. Oh, and he also another four balls for 21 yards. It was one of the most impressive games for a running back in NFL history, let alone a rookie.
With half of the current 2012 NFL season still left to play, it will be interesting to see what will happen with these three top rookies. Will Griffin III be able to bounce back from his recent struggles? Will Luck get the Colts into the playoffs? Will Martin be able to avoid hitting that dreaded rookie wall? It promises to be an exciting finish to the 2012 NFL season, especially for these three first round draft picks.