BY SPNW Staff 11:39AM 12/31/2012

Who’s The Top Rookie? Luck, RG3 Or Wilson?

The NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award seems destined to go to one of three superb rookie QBs. Look at the numbers, check your Seahawks passions at the door, and vote here.

Russell Wilson made a late, strong case for being named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Russell Wilson’s quarterback rating, last eight games: 127.3, 131.0, 125.9, 104.9, 88.0, 104.4, 115.3, 136.3 . . . 16 touchdowns, two interceptions, four rushing touchdowns. The Seahawks went 7-1 in those games and outscored their opponents 272-111. In the minds of many, including Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Wilson should win the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award over Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck.

Based on the chart below, not a whole lot separates the three, at least statistically. They all quarterbacked about the same number of victories. Luck threw for more than a thousand yards more than either Griffin or Wilson, but also threw 200-plus more passes and completed just 54.1 percent — to 65.6 percent for Griffin and 64.1 percent for Wilson. Luck also threw nearly twice as many interceptions (18) as Griffin and Wilson.

Wilson tied Peyton Manning’s rookie record with 26 touchdown passes (and would have set the record if an Anthony McCoy penalty hadn’t wiped out a Wilson TD to Zach Miller Sunday) but threw twice as many interceptions (10) as Griffin (5). On the other hand, Wilson completed a higher percentage of his passes for touchdowns (6.6) than Griffin (5.1) and Luck (3.7).

Griffin (102.4) finished with a slightly higher passer rating than Wilson (100.0) and rushed for 815 yards and seven touchdowns to Wilson’s 489 and four. Statistically, Griffin rates slightly ahead of Wilson overall and was the best rookie quarterback, by far, from Week 1 through Week 8, befitting his status as the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.

But Wilson has been the most productive since, and is a far better story, morphing as he did from the 75th pick in the draft into a November-December force. Among other things:

  • Wilson threw a game-winning touchdown pass in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime three times, the most ever by a rookie since the 1970 merger.
  • Became the first player in NFL history to have three rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown in the first half of a game (at Buffalo, Dec. 16).
  • Helped Seattle become the first team since the 1950 New York Giants to score 50 points in consecutive games in a single season.
  • From 1960 through 2011, only two rookie quarterbacks started a game in which their team scored at least 50 points: former Washington Husky Chris Chandler of the Colts in 1988 and Tony Banks of the Rams in 1996. Wilson did it in consecutive weeks.

Griffin might still deserve the Offensive Rookie of the Year award based on his play over the entire season. That’s for you to weigh in on. Here are the comparisons:

Category Andrew Luck Robert Griffin III Russell Wilson
QB Record 11-4-0 9-6-0 11-5-0
4th Qtr. Comebacks 4 3 3
Attempts 627 393 393
Completions 339 258 252
Completion Pct. 54.1 65.6 64.1
Yards 4374 3200 3118
Touchdowns 23 20 26
Touchdown Pct. 3.7 5.1 6.6
Interceptions 18 5 10
Yards Per Att. 7.0 8.1 7.9
Yards Per Catch 12.9 12.4 12.4
Yards Per Game 273.4 213.3 194.9
Times Sacked 41 30 33
Passer Rating 76.5 102.4 100.0


  • Dale McLerran

    One stat left off the list above is the number of fumbles by each of these three QBs. Here is that comparison:

    Andrew Luck: 10
    Robert Griffin: 12
    Russell Wilson: 6

    Wilson threw 5 more picks than Griffin, most of those picks occurred early in the season when the Hawks were running a very predictable offense. In terms of total turnovers, Russell Wilson has the veteran savvy to protect the ball and not do things that could hurt his team. Griffin, while an incredibly gifted player, takes on linebackers and safeties when he takes off on one of his runs. He gets hit and coughs up the ball, or worse yet, loses game time due to injury. Wilson isn’t going to do that to his team.

    Wilson and Griffin are in almost a dead heat overall. But I’ll take Wilson’s clear thinking over Griffin’s physical talent, thank you. Wilson deserves rookie of the year!

  • osoviejo

    Troy Aikman was once asked during training camp how he and his receivers stay focused during the hot summer grind.

    “We have a contest,” he said. “Every time they drop a ball, it’s a dollar. Every time I throw an interception, it’s ten dollars.”

    The reporter then asked what happens when a pass hits a receiver in the hands but gets picked off anyway.

    “That’s 11 on them.”

    The point of that story, of course, is that not all interceptions are created equal.

    I don’t know how much blame should be assigned to the other quarterbacks for their picks.

    But I do know that Wilson threw three of his picks on the last play of a half–hail Marys. They had zero impact on the game as the opponent never ran a play as a result.

    And he’s thrown at least three picks that hit his receivers in both hands before bouncing off to the other team.

    There are maybe two or three interceptions all season that one could reasonably argue are 100% Wilson. Unfortunately, I don’t know what those numbers are for the other two quarterbacks, but I bet someone, somewhere keeps such tallies.

  • The stats indicate RG3. Wilson will be out to prove the voters wrong and will bring home the win next week!

  • davidkingdavid

    If you look at the interceptions that Wilson threw, a few were on tips, and he was downright unlucky against St. Louis. His victories were big, and he avoided injuries. In Washington’s season finale, Griffin threw only 18 passes, and relied as heavily as Wilson did in the first half of the season on his running game. My vote goes to Wilson because at his best he is the best of the three great rookies.

  • jafabian

    It’ll go to RG3. He’s been playing at a high level all season whereas Wilson started out okay then turned it up in the second half of the season.

  • just passing thru

    according to Vince Verhei of Football Outsiders (also in ESPN “inside” premium article), Russell Wilson is the top rookie QB. Football Outsiders use DYAR, a proprietary metric that measures performance on every play against expected performance for that situation.

    In fact, Wilson is the first rookie QB to end up over 1k in their metric. It’s noteworthy that his numbers are higher than RG3 and AL for both passing and rushing. My saber friends will get to wave this flag too when the award goes to (rats) RG3.

  • RGR

    Before the draft all we herd was AW RGIII No one except Pete Carrol even knew who Russel Wilson was. Wilson has accomplished more then the other 2 but my money’s on RGIII Only because of name Recognition

  • John Eichler

    Since we are talking about football on the field, and not on a fantasy league scoresheet, Andrew Luck is the MVP, RG3 is 2nd, and RW 3rd. I don’t mean this as a disrespect to RW because he’s been a stud. With the Colts, they have no running game anybody cares about, no defense worth mentioning, they have Luck. They live or die by what he does, and look at how they did. With RG3, they obviously have a good runner, but whats obvious is that teams are so preoccupied with RG3, they concede on the run, that is the poison they choose to pick. With the Hawks, the cornerstone of their team is a shut down defense that puts fear in the hearts of their opposition, a dynamite running game that sets up the passing game. RW is the 3rd part of this triangle, and plays his role to perfection, but the team doesn’t live or die with how he performs. If you are going for on the field impact and factor in how much weight is being carried, you can’t vote for RW, but if it’s all about stats, I’m sure it could be justified.

  • fairmont

    There is no way that Wilson can overcome RG3 for Rookie of the Year. Too much east coast bias, it will not be overcome. Voting is this week, the game next weekend will not matter in the outcome. But this game will mean everything, and Russell doesn’t want to lose it on the big stage. I love the Seahawks chances, monster LOVE! If there ever was a year that the non respected Seahawks could win, it is this year! Seahawk fans, it doesn’t get any better than this!

  • Coug1990

    Reluctantly, my vote is for RG3. Right now, Russell is playing the best out of all three of them. If the ROY was for who is playing better right now, he would get my vote. But, like the Seahawks are perhaps the best team now, yet they are a wildcard team because they count the games they lost early in the season. Same goes for ROY, RG3 gets it for me because he played at a high level games 1-16, I cannot say that for Russell.

  • SGMD1

    Russell Wilson actually leads RG3 in defense-adjusted stats like DVOA, DYAR, and adjusted QBR.

    I’d hope that the 50 AP journalists who vote for this thing are smart enough to look at the advanced metrics and not just the elementary stats, but I doubt it.