Point/Counterpoint: Who is the top contender for the NFL's Rookie of the Year?

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 11, 2012 6:30 AM

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There are numerous candidates for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year through 14 weeks of the regular season, but two stand out for leading their teams to potential playoff berths. Two reporters debate: Will it be Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III?

QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck — the man who was chosen No. 1 overall in April by the Indianapolis Colts, and who has since taken the once-broken franchise and has it in serious playoff contention — rightfully deserves to be the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The guy is a winner. He’s proven that time and time again. He took a team that went 2-14 a year ago and has it at 9-4 so far this season. He’s taken responsibility for so much of his team’s success this season, and in more ways than one, it’s been fun to watch.

Consider these stats: He’s on pace to shatter every NFL rookie passing record, and he has set the first-year records for most 300-yard games (6) and most passing yards in a single game (433, on Nov. 4 in a win over the Dolphins). Luck is 8-1 this season in one-possession games, with five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. That should speak volumes about how the rookie handles pressure.

But there was more pressure than to just win games. Luck came into Indianapolis facing the most uphill battle in the history of pro sports: He was the true “replacement” for, arguably, the NFL’s greatest quarterback.

But here’s something else not many people knew when we were halfway through the season. Colt legend Peyton Manning, now quarterback for the Denver Broncos, had thrown for 2,404 yards after just eight games this season. Luck had also thrown for 2,404 yards after eight games.

Additionally, both of their teams were 5-3 at the time.

Robert Griffin III didn’t have that pressure coming into this season. And neither did Russell Wilson, Doug Martin, or any other potential Offensive Rookie of the Year. Andrew Luck is proving that the Colts, once again, made a smart decision to draft a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick.

— by Cody Goodwin

QB Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

Robert Griffin III is not just the best rookie in the NFL this year. He is one of the best players in the entire league.

Andrew Luck and the Colts keep winning, which is impressive. But if you look at the actual performance of both rookie quarterbacks, it isn’t all that close.

Griffin has a passer rating of 104.2, the best in the NFL. Luck’s is 74.5, which is 31st in the league. Griffin has the fifth-best completion percentage in the league, while Luck is 33rd. Griffin averages 8.3 yards per pass attempt. That, again, is the best mark in the league. Luck is 18th in the category.

Both quarterbacks have thrown 18 touchdowns. Luck has 18 interceptions to go along with them, while Griffin III has 4.

It’s clear Griffin III has been better throwing the ball. That’s before you factor in his 748 rushing yards and his 6.7 yards per rush attempt.

So how could anyone give this award to Luck? Well, based on team success. This made more sense after week 9, when Indianapolis was 5-3 and the Redskins were just 3-6. But since then, Washington has won four straight, and now both hotshot rookie quarterbacks are in playoff contention.

And sure, Luck’s Colts are two games better in the standings. But these guys can only control what happens on one side of the ball, and Washington averages more yards and points per game than Indianapolis. So unless you think Luck deserves credit for his team’s defense being better than Griffin’s, even the team-success argument doesn’t make sense.

These are both good players with bright futures. The Colts should be happy to have Luck.

But Griffin is having such a ridiculously good season that the Offensive Rookie of the Year debate seems too modest. He is playing like a deserving MVP.

— by Sam Louwagie

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