Robert Griffin III: Redskins QB Still Has Edge for Rookie of the Year

William Smith@@BSmith102688Correspondent INovember 19, 2012

The QB has lived up to the hype and exceeded expectations in his rookie season.
The QB has lived up to the hype and exceeded expectations in his rookie season.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Robert Griffin III's Washington Redskins sit at 4-6 after the rookie dazzled in a 31-6 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11.

Despite strong efforts by fellow rookies Andrew Luck and Doug Martin in recent weeks, Griffin still has the edge for the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Two weeks ago, 'Skins coach Mike Shanahan basically packed in the tent on the season, saying his team was now in player evaluation mode for the rest of the season.

Griffin didn't get that memo.

If there was any doubt who deserves the award, there isn't anymore after Griffin's near-perfect performance against the Eagles. He completed 14-of-15 passes for 200 yards and four touchdowns, adding 84 yards on the ground on 12 carries. 

Griffin's perfect 158.3 quarterback rating (QBR) for the day proved that he isn't packing it in and is fully determined to win the award.

It is tough to determine what qualities are the most important in determining who deserves this award.

Griffin's Redskins are 4-6 while Luck and Martin have their teams at 6-4, but to dismiss Griffin from the talk without looking at other factors would be absurd.

Griffin has kept his team in every game this season, with only one double-digit loss all year. In that game, a 27-12 loss to Pittsburgh, the quarterback's wideouts let him down by dropping 10 passes.

Additionally, the Washington defense has been injury-plagued all season and has not given Griffin much help.

Griffin wants to win above all else and has done everything he can to make that happen.

The hype has been building for Luck in recent weeks, who has his Colts at 6-4 and in great shape to earn an AFC Wild Card bid after the Colts only won two games without Peyton Manning in 2011, to win the award. 

Luck has far more passing yards than Griffin, averaging 297 per game compared to Griffin's 219. 

However, Luck has better weapons, including Reggie Wayne, and a lot of those yards have been a result of an ineffective ground game.

Griffin has the advantage over Luck in completion percentage (67.1 to 57.0), QBR (101.0 to 77.2) and total touchdowns (18 to 17). 

Additionally, Griffin has only thrown three interceptions all year, compared to Luck's 12 picks.

Griffin ranks fifth in the NFL with that QBR, while Luck is 28th in the league, just ahead of erratic Jets QB Mark Sanchez.

His duel-threat nature has also been on display all year, as the rookie out of Baylor is 18th in the NFL in rushing yards with 613 yards on 93 attempts.  

He is ahead of star running backs Steven Jackson, Matt Forte, Michael Turner, Reggie Bush and Ryan Mathews in rushing yards.

While Luck has made others around him better, Griffin has excelled in doing so.

Even with playing most of the year with his two best offensive weapons—Pierre Garcon and Fred Davis—sidelined, he has made Aldrick Robinson, Leonard Hankerson and Logan Paulsen look like viable options in the passing game with beautifully thrown balls.

The rookie has rejuvenated the career of Santana Moss, who has team highs in receiving yards (374) and touchdowns (six). 

Enter running back Doug Martin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a 5'9", 215-pound beast, who is now in the conversation for the award.

The rookie has 197 carries for 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns while also adding 319 receiving yards and a score.

In recent weeks, Martin has been on a tear, highlighted by his 251 rushing yards and four touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders in a Week 9 win.

The "Muscle Hamster" is no doubt a big key for the Bucs' dramatic turnaround, but he is not the sole reason for their success.

Quarterback Josh Freeman's recent play has the Bucs riding a four-game winning streak, as his play has given the team excellent offensive output (139 points in those four games).

His 21 TD passes puts him ties for fourth in the NFL in that department. 

Additionally, the offseason acquisition of wide receiver Vincent Jackson is paying big dividends for Freeman, as he has 863 yards and seven touchdowns. 

A lot of credit has to go to first-year head coach Greg Schiano, who has totally changed the culture in Tampa Bay and has a young football team heading in the right direction.

Griffin's performance and leadership keep him at the top of the list for the award.

Luck and Martin have done amazing things this year and it's rare to have three rookies with such high credentials up to this point, but Griffin stands out among the group.

With a little more talent around him and a healthy defense, the sky is the limit for Griffin. 

The man who has revitalized a Redskins franchise and fan base belongs right at the top of the voting for AP Rookie of the Year.


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