Sunday, October 28, 2012

Is Robert Griffin III really the best rookie QB in the NFL? Playing Devil's Advocate.

First, I am not crazy.  I wanted to offer a different perspective on Robert Griffin III (aka RGIII).  Currently, fans and experts a like are in love with RGIII.  In their eyes, he can can do no wrong.

Would anyone really challenge the majority opinion and question wither or not RGIII is clearly the best rookie QB in the NFL this season?  Are there any cracks in his armor?  I believe there are cracks and I expect him to come back to earth in the 2nd half of the season.

BEWARE - There is going to be a ton of statistics in this blog, but I challenge you to stay with me because  I saved the best for last.  I will be looking beyond the general NFL statistics that most fans and TV personalities look at.  I have gathered every possible statistic I could think of.  In the end maybe you will see a different RGIII, maybe not.  I will be comparing RGIII against his rookie counterparts:  Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, and Brandon Weeden.

I will also analyze the EA Sports Madden 13 attributes for these five QB's and give my suggestions for some changes.

I gathered all of my statistics from the following websites:, (aka: PFF),, and

Here is the first group of statistics:

BLUE = The best rookie QB in that statistic

RED = The worst rookie QB in that statistic

ESPN QBR explanation (Click Here).

* Here is PFF's explaination of their QB rating, "Offering an alternative to the out-dated standard, we take into account dropped passes, throw aways, spikes, and yards in the air and further adjust the old formula so it makes more sense and is a more accurate measure."


    At first glance, you will notice that RGIII dominates in many of the more common QB statistics, like:  Comp%, Yards per attempt (YPA), Int% and NFL QB rating.  Even PFF has him rated as the top rookie QB.  

What is ESPN thinking by rating Andrew Luck higher than RGIII?  Let me give some explanation.  ESPN does what they call "divide credit" among players for the success of the QB.  

Here is an excerpt from their ESPN QBR webpage,  

"On a pass play, for instance, there are a few basic components:

• The pass protection
• The throw
• The catch
• The run after the catch"

Pay special attention to that last one, "The run after the catch."  If you look back up at the previous table, you will see that RGIII leads the rookie QB's in "Yards after Catch" (YAC) per attempt.  What does that mean?  It means Robert Griffin III is getting a lot of help from his teammates after the catch.  By comparison, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson aren't getting much help at all based on their YAC per attempt.  I was surprised to see how high the YAC was for Brandon Weeden, but it explains why he can still put up some respectable numbers, despite being the lowest rated QB by all three sources.
Many "experts" on TV and Radio claim RGIII doesn't have much to work with on offense, I bet Wilson and Luck would like to have such shrubs playing on their team.  So next time someone wants to give RGIII all the credit, tell them to take a look at his YAC per attempt.


Here is a table I put together using accuracy statistics from


1.  Once again, RGIII shines when you look at the standard completion percentages.  What I find fascinating, is percentage attempted by target distance.  19% of Robert Griffin's targets are behind the line of scrimmage, non of these rookies are even close to that figure.  A number that high tells me that RGIII is relying heavily on screen plays.  Andrew Luck is the exact opposite.   

Oh by that way.  Everyone talks about RGIII's great deep accuracy.  Really?  His 6.9% of targets 20 or more yards downfield is tied for 32nd in the NFL with Christian Ponder.  In total, RGIII has attempted 13 passes that were targeted 20 or more yards downfield and of those 13, five were caught and one was dropped.  Is that really enough for everyone to praise the deep passing of RGIII?  I don't think so.  Why doesn't anyone talk about the deep passing of Russell Wilson or Ryan Tannehill? Think about it.

2.  FACT - Per PFF statistics, no starting QB (who has played in all games) has attempted or completed fewer passes targeted 20 or more yards downfield than RGIII.  

Next time you hear Trent Dilfer of ESPN talk about RGIII's great deep ball, feel free to think, "what deep ball?"

So RGIII might have a great deep ball and he may be very accurate downfield, but I need to see a whole lot more before I'm convinced.  By looking at these numbers, defensive coordinators should be more concerned with his screen pass than the deep ball.

3.  FYI - According to PFF statistics, from 2008 through 2011, NFL QB's completed 39.9% of their passes targeted 20 or more yards downfield.  All of these rookies, with the exception of Brandon Weeden exceed that figure.   This season, NFL QB's are completing 42.7% of their deep targets (again, Weeden is the only one not exceeding that percentage).


Next, we look at some rushing statistics.

* Pressure % = Is a PFF statistic, which is the percentage of dropbacks under pressure per total dropbacks.


1.  RGIII clearly dominates this category, right?  In most respects, yes he does.

That said.  RGIII has fumbled the ball more than any other rookie QB, but he has the 2nd best fumble rate.  Five of his fumbles having been while rushing, the other two were sack fumbles.  Lucky for the Redskins, RGIII has only lost two of those seven fumbles.  

Why haven't we heard about RGIII's fumbles?  Is it because he's only lost two of them or it's that fact that everyone is so infatuated with him that they can't objectively critique him?  I'll go with the later. 

2.  So far this season, no QB is running with the ball at a higher percentage then RGIII (14%).  For comparison, Cam Newton is currently at 12.8% and Mike Vick is at 8.9%.  Redskin fans are on "cloud 9" right now, but I don't think RGIII will last long in the NFL if he keeps running with the ball at such a high percentage.  RGIII is not Cam Newton.  Newton is 3 inches taller and weighes 21 pounds more than RGIII; he can take more of a beating.  RGIII is closer to Mike Vick physically and I could see him having similar injury problems if he continues to run so much.  

3.  Russell Wilson is consistently playing under duress behind Seattle's questionable offensive line.  The 42.4% pressure is tied for the 2nd highest in the NFL (with Kevin Kolb).  Only Mike Vick has faced more pressure (45.4%) than Russell Wilson.

Speaking of pressure, or lack thereof.  Brandon Weeden is playing under the least amount of pressure among these rookies, yet he's still the worst rated rookie QB.  


Next, is my favorite and perhaps the most telling table of them all.  The following are the combined defensive statistics of the teams these five rookies have faced through week 7:

RED = The top defensive statistic against the rookie QB's (Basically, RED indicates the toughest matchup)

BLUE = The worst defensive statistic against the rookie QB's (Basically, BLUE indicates the easiest matchup).


1.  While RGIII has the highest opponent winning percentage, only three of the seven teams he's faced had a winning record.  Of those three teams, the Redskins only won one game (vs. MIN).  Luck has also played three teams with a winning record and beat two of them (MIN and GB).  Wilson has faced four teams with a winning record and beat two of them (GB and NE).  Tannehill has only faced two teams with a winning record and lost both.  Weeden has played two teams with a winning record and lost both, plus he has  played two .500 teams without posting a win.

2.  With regards to pass defense, RGIII has had the easiest road (among rookie QB's).  Could this explain his high QB rating and completion percentage?  Based on these defensive statistics, he has a 3 to 4% completion percentage advantage on the other rookie QB's.  

WARNING - RGIII has five very tough divisional matchups remaining on his schedule, as well as a game at Pittsburgh and versus Baltimore.  You've been warned!

3.  Andrew Luck is playing against the toughest pass defense in terms of:  comp%, TD%, Int%, and QB rating.  Besides two remaining games against Houston, Luck has a much easier schedule coming up.  I wouldn't be surprised if he takes a major statistical step forward in the 2nd half of the season.

4.  In terms of yards allowed and points per game, Russell Wilson has been matched up against the stingiest defenses.  Could this explain some of the conservative play calling by the Seattle offensive coordinator?  Possibly.  The Seattle schedule does not get much easier moving forward (with the exception of the Lions and Bills).  Seattle has three more divisional games, as well as road games against Chicago and an underrated Miami defense.  The NFC West is arguably the best defensive division in the NFL, for that reason expectations should not be high for Wilson over the second half of the season.  

5.  How bad will Brandon Weeden be once he faces some stiffer competition.  While he leads the rookies in passing yards and TD passes, these defensive stats clearly explain why.  How many TD's would Andrew Luck or even Russell Wilson have if they went up against the same defense as Weeden?  One thing is clear, the difference between Weeden and RGIII should have been a couple rounds not 20 picks in the 1st round.

Think about it.  Weeden has a great YAC per attempt (meaning his pass catchers are making plays for him), faced the least amount of pressure (among rookie QB's) and went up against the worst defenses in terms of yards allowed and points allowed.....yet he keeps ending up at the bottom when compared to his rookie counterparts.  

6.  Then we have Tannehill.  He seems to be left out of the rookie QB conversation in many cases.  Would you have guesses that he is the 2nd most accurate rookie behind RGIII?  Not to mention, he has the highest completion percentage on deep passes and passes targeted 0-9 yards downfield.  It's all the more impressive, when you consider that the defenses he's faced have only allowed completions on 60.5% of pass attempts (toughest matchup among rookie QB's).  Going forward, Tannehill has a very friendly schedule (with the exception of the Seattle and S.F. matchups).  I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up as the 3rd best rookie QB (statistically speaking). 


My finals thoughts on RGIII

Is Robert Griffin III really the best rookie QB in the NFL this season?  Through seven games, I will have to say "yes."  That said, I strongly believe that Andrew Luck will be the top rookie QB by the end of the year.  Also, in my opinion there is no guarantee that RGIII will stay healthy all season.

Remember the Cam Newton of 2011?  By the end of the season, he had proven the doubters wrong...or so we thought.  Cam and the Panthers came into this season with high expectations and playoff aspirations, now look at them.  Carolina is 1-5 and everyone around the NFL is questioning Cam's ability to control his emotions and wither or not he can deal with losing.  Not to mention, defenses have made adjustments when facing Cam, and so far Carolina has failed to make an adjustment on their end.

I brought up Cam Newton, because I believe RGIII could have a similar fate.

So do you still think Robert Griffin III is the best rookie QB?  Where would you rank him among all NFL QB's?  Please leave a comment below.



Taking a look at the five rookie QB's and their Madden 13 player ratings and attributes.


1.  Why has RGIII not received a decrease to his carry attribute after 7 fumbles and a 8.9% fumble rate?  Russell Wilson has received a -1 to his CAR, but has fewer fumbles and a better fumble rate of just 4.1%.  It's time for RGIII to receive a decrease to this attribute.

2.  Statistically, Russell Wilson is the 3rd best rookie in regards to DAC, yet he is dead last among this group with a 74 DAC.

Weeden has no business having an 80 DAC at this point.

Speaking of DAC, why hasn't Tannehill seen a more significant increase since he has been better than all of these rookies (included RGIII). Granted, Tannehill has only attempted 19 deep passess (11 completions), but if RGIII is able to sustain an 88 DAC on only 13 attempts, then Tannehill has a case for a DAC increase.

3.  Does 13 deep attempts and just 5 completions (+ 1 drop) justify an 88 DAC?  Remember, RGIII has attempted and completed fewer passes targeted 20 or more yards downfield than any other starting QB this season (who have played in all games).

4.  No rookie was worse than Andrew Luck in accuracy of passes targeted 0-9 yards downfield (61.5%).  Isn't it time to give him a more significant decrease in SAC?

5.  In most cases AWR (awareness) is used by EA to increase the OVR rating.  Even if that is the case, what has Weeden really done to deserve an increase in awareness?  He is aware of the best defenders to throw an interception to and he had the highest fumble rate among these rookies at 15%.  Remember, he faced the least amount of pressure when compared to his fellow rookies.  BTW - In no way should Weeden have a higher SAC than RGIII (refer back to the accuracy table).


Thank you for following my blog.  Enjoy the games on Sunday.



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