“I Think You And I Are Destined To Do This Forever”: Robert Griffin III vs. Andrew Luck
This is just the beginning. By last night, RGIII and Andrew Luck had finished the first chapter of their NFL careers, and even though both came to an unsatisfying end, it was a great ride. The Colts and Redskins picked 1st and 2nd in last April’s draft, and they immediately changed the trajectories of those franchises. The thing about this is who’s better?
I have been ranking the rookie quarterbacks all year. RGIII has sat atop those rankings ever since the end of Week 1. His hot start against the New Orleans Saints only proved to be the first of many great performances. Even in defeat RGIII was amazing not only Redskins fans, but NFL fans as a whole. His numbers were great, even for a non-rookie QB: 3,200 passing yards, 65.6% completion percentage, 20 TDs, 5 INTs, 815 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs. These numbers were one of the main reasons I had him atop my rookie QB power rankings all year. His performances got better and better, and he easily turned into arguably the most exciting player in the NFL1. The most impressive thing about RGIII, though, is how quickly he changed the culture in Washington. Yes, the Shanahans are due a lot of credit. They gameplanned to Griffin’s strengths, moving the pocket and bringing in option reads2, but it took a special player to do what Griffin did. Football is Washington is top dog, even when the Redskins weren’t very good, they were the cities favorite team. In recent years, prior to 2012, however, it has been a football wasteland. Somewhere where overpaid, underachieving veterans went to decompose. Redskin fans knew this. They had the most expensive, unlikable team in the NFL, and it looked like they would be stuck that way for as long as Dan Snyder and Dan Snyder’s pornstache were in charge. Then came RGIII, like that first spring morning after a long nuclear winter. He came in, and was like a bolt of lightning, instantly recharging the petrified fanbase of Washington. RGIII’s greatest accomplishment, even more than the great stats, was making football relevant in Washington again. He came in a brought hope where there was none, and that can’t be stated enough. That is worth more than anything, more than Pro Bowls or Rookie of the Year awards, more than jersey sales, or TV ratings. He couldn’t have done anything more except win the Super Bowl.
Andrew Luck has been behind the player picked behind him all year, at least in my rankings. Andrew Luck was asked to do everything for the 2-14 Colts, and everything he did, lifting the team to an 11-5 record. I don’t think it’s been stated enough. The Indianapolis Colts had arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play, and, no argument, the greatest Colt, Peyton Manning, leave. He’s replaced by wunderkind Andrew Luck, and not one Colts fan bats an eyelash. They don’t even act like they miss Peyton, who just so happens to be the greatest player to ever wear the horseshoe on his helmet. Why does it seem like they don’t care? Luck is oozing with potential, and if the small sample of what we saw in 2012, Colts fans won’t be thinking of Peyton for a long time. His numbers weren’t as gaudy as RGIII’s: 4,374 passing yards, 54.1% completion percentage, 23 TDs, 18 INTs, 225 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs. The INTs piled up as Luck was asked to make every throw for a thin on talent Colts squad. His passing yards piled up, though, and he broke Cam Newton’s rookie record. Like RGIII, though, the stats don’t tell the whole story with Luck. He took a team that only had 2 wins last year and led them into the playoffs. He did this all in the shadow left by one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, who was having an MVP caliber year by the way, and didn’t even give the fans a chance to miss the guy.
I’m 19, and I haven’t had the chance of seeing many full careers. I saw the tail end of many good ones, Drew Bledsoe, Brad Johnson, Rich Gannon, Kurt Warner. I was able to catch the middle of Peyton and Vick and McNabb. I just barely remember the start of Brady’s career, my first sports memory being him hands on his shaking head as confetti falls around him. I even remember when Rivers, Eli, and Roethlisberger were drafted. I haven’t really started avidly following them. The good ol’days used to be just Patriots. I have seen Matt Ryan’s full career, but that doesn’t seem like anything special. No, RGIII and Andrew Luck are the first two young quarterbacks that I will see and follow from the beginning of their careers until they retire. The two will be compared with the other forever, and I know I can’t wait to do that. The thing is, though, it doesn’t matter. Not very often talent like these two come around, and very rarely does talent like these two come around at the same time. The real winner in the battle of RGIII vs. Luck is us: the fans. These are the two best young quarterback prospects the game has ever seen, and I’m going to sit back and watch their entire careers unfold in front of me. The journey they will take football fans on will be one to remember. This is just the beginning.
Final Rookie QB Rankings: 1. (tie) RGIII and Luck 2. Russell Wilson 3. Ryan Tannehill 4. Brandon Weeden
- Adrian Peterson is probably the 1b choice. I mean not that I predicted it. I thought Cam Newton had it all wrapped up, but he turned out to be the turd in the punch bowl of my NFL predictions.
- So, basically, throw out everything they have done in football so far and recreate themselves.