With the two big fish out of the way in defensive player of the year and the league’s most valuable player, it’s time to look to the future of the league and talk about some of the new blood. There were a lot of electrifying rookies to enter the league this year and four out of my five finalists for offensive rookie of the year helped their team earn a playoff spot in 2012. With it sounding a lot like the future is now, let’s take a closer look at the nominees below.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
The early season favorite, Griffin came out on fire as the 2012 season opened and looked to take a underachieving Redskins franchise back to their previous glory. The biggest problem for rookie quarterbacks is usually their knack for being careless with the ball. Yet Griffin only tossed 5 interceptions in 15 games. All the while throwing for 20 touchdowns on 3,200 yards. Even though the leg injury he sustained in the playoffs are all anyone wants to talk about regarding Griffin, his claim to the offensive rookie of the year is very high.
Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
Yes, it was certainly a youth movement in Washington as their quarterback wasn’t the only one making story lines. Rookie Alfred Morris, the 173rd player taken in the 2012 NFL Draft, was a perfect fit for Mike Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme and racked up 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns. You always hear people talk about Shanahan being able to plug anyone into his system and making them a 1,000 yard back. But if he plugs in a guy who is a fit; the sky is the limit and Morris was just that in 2012.
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
The hype leading up to Luck in the NFL was deafening for almost two years. The “Suck for Luck” campaign’s were almost annoying as any team that lost a game was accused of doing so intentionally just to get the top pick in the draft. But the hype was met as Indy continues an amazing fortune in going from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck. He only responded by setting the rookie record for passing with 4,374 yards. Some point to his mistakes and turnovers as a mark against him, but no rookie quarterback led his team to more comeback wins (seven) in 2012 than Luck.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
For all of the talk about how Trent Richardson was the only prospect worthy of a first round pick, the Bucs took a shot on Doug Martin and it paid off big time. After a slow start, Martin finished 5th in the league with 1,454 yards; just 90 yards short of the franchise record in a single season. Remarkable, especially when this isn’t even considering the 472 yards receiving he had. However, he wasn’t as consistent as Morris was this season and he’s unlikely to steal any votes from the other four guys.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Here we have a guy who is making fans of every team without a running quarterback accusing their team of not adapting to the times. Speed is enticing, no doubt, especially considering what Wilson was able to do as a rookie. His stats may not be as eye popping as Luck’s and his draft positioning will likely hold him behind Griffin in this vote, he may have the best leadership out of any of this group and that is immeasurable at his position in this league.
Who Should Win?
This is a very tough call. I don’t remember another time that there were ever three quarterbacks that came in the league and led their team to the playoffs. A part of me got caught up in the magic that seemed to be the Seahawks late season surge and watching Griffin lead a miraculous comeback in the NFC East was nails. However, I’m going to go with Andrew Luck here.
He may not have the flash those other two guys do, but you have to consider that the situation he came into was much less desirable. It was him, Reggie Wayne and just some guys out there and he was as solid as a five year starter. The other two guys had strong running games and better than average defenses. A nine win differential over last season has to account for something.
Who Will Win?
I’ve known since around week 6 this season that Robert Griffin III was going to win this award. With all of the Luck or RG3 hype surrounding the Combine, I knew it would be one of those two. Wilson arguably played better than either of them, especially down the stretch, but draft status does play a role in the voting, whether the panel likes to admit it or not.
As soon as the Redskins made their spectacular run to end the season and pull out the division with a long winning streak, Griffin pretty much nailed it down. Coming from a tougher conference will get him more credit, too. But it’s not like I’m talking about a bum here. Griffin has a spectacular season and the questions and answers over his leg injury are certainly something we will await with anxiety.
Filed under: NFL
Tagged with: 2012 Awards, Alfred Morris, Andrew Luck, Doug Martin, Indianapolis Colts, Mike Shanahan, NFC East, Offensive Rookie of The Year, Peyton Manning, RG3, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins