Through 12 games, Andrew Luck is having one of the greatest seasons of any rookie QB in NFL history.
He’s on pace for 4,800 yards – a total that would smash the record set by Cam Newton a year ago and that is almost 1,000 yards greater than Peyton Manning’s mark, which had stood since 1998. Luck has also led his team to five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and has already won more games in his first season than any other rookie QB that was taken #1 overall.
On a team that went 2-14 last year, and has played without its coach for more than half of its games, the difference has been Luck, a rookie who is actually making a fantastic case for League MVP this year.
A few hours East, Robert Griffin III is also having one of the greatest seasons a rookie QB has ever had.
Both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are having superlative rookie seasons, but is our constant comparison of the two diminishing our ability to truly appreciate the greatness of both? (Image credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images via B/R)
If you want numbers, RG3′s are staggering. The rookie who played his college ball in Waco, TX has completed almost 68% of his passes – a number unheard of for rookie quarterbacks. He’s also got a staggering 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio, having thrown 16 TDs against just 4 picks.
After a rough start, Griffin and the Redskins have rebounded recently with two good wins over quality opponents. Injuries threatened to derail Washington’s season almost before it even started, but Griffin has the Redskins on the fringes of playoff contention.
A close look at each player and his statistics practically forces us into compare/contrast discussions. But here’s the thing:
The seasons that Andrew Luck and RG3 are having have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with each other.
So Why Must We Constantly Compare/Contrast The Two?
This isn’t basketball where LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony could literally go head-to-head their rookie years and determine who was the best player on the floor. In fact, the Colts and Redskins haven’t even played each other this season (outside of a meaningless pre-season game early on).
Luck and RG3 will never line up on opposite sides of the ball and go mano-a-mano, no matter how hard we want that to happen.
The reality is that both the Colts and Redskins are exceedingly happy over their young rookie QBs. I have the inclination that neither Indianapolis nor the Colts would entertain any hypothetical trade talks involving Luck and Griffin.
Colts fans are drooling over Luck’s intangibles and Peyton Manningesque game-winning drives. Washington fans are going gaga over Griffin’s 70-yard runs, beautiful deep balls, and the fact that their team is legitimately relevant for the first time since the first coming of Joe Gibbs.
And yet, almost nobody has been able to enjoy both guys because of the Steven-A-Smithization of the sports world. (Or maybe we could call it Skip-Baylessitis?)
In an increasingly postmodernistic society that is nearly void of absolutes, it is both unpopular and generally considered naive to have a strong opinion on anything that really matters. We just went through an election where almost half of the eligible voters in America chose to stay home rather than stand for anything.
In the aftermath of the Javon Belcher incident, Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock are being canibalized the world over for actually having an opinion (Whitlock here, Costas here).
(For the record, I am staunchly anti-gun control; this isn’t the point. The fact that Whitlock and Costas apparently aren’t allowed to demonstrate freedom of speech when it comes to important issues is.)
Rather than stand for something, it is instead popular to “take the high road” and choose to go voiceless. Mike Greenberg bragged this morning that he would refuse to comment on the gun-control issue because, “Everyone has his opinion and he is entitled to it.”
Of course, in the next segment, he pontificated about “the worst football game ever played” (yesterday’s Jets/Cardinals snooze fest), “the greatest football game ever played” (Saturday’s SEC Championship), and the greatness of Andrew Luck.
You see, the only issues one is allowed to have an opinion on are those that are trivial.
Issues like Luck vs. RG3.
Unfortunately, the endless debate and discussion concerning the two players is both annoying and, at this point, irrelevant.
As a Colts fan, I spent a great deal of the last ten years of my life debating one topic more than any other: Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady.
We spent years picking apart their differences. I spent hours criticizing Brady. I nitpicked, I searched, I scoured for any and every factor that could possibly separate the two.
In doing so, I did something that I actually sort of regret at this point in my career – I never stopped to appreciate Tom Brady.
This hit me a few years ago when I tried to have the discussion with my new wife’s grandfather. He is a football junkie who has watched a lot more football over the years than even myself. I asked him, “Gramps, who do YOU think is the best QB of all time?”
His answer caught me off guard. “Jon, it’s really hard to compare eras, but it would be hard to beat the two playing right now – Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.”
The mere thought that someone could think of them as equals really threw me for a loop.
The Irony of the Manning v Brady Debate
Ironically, as their careers begin to wane, Brady and Manning are proving to be more similar than maybe anyone ever thought.
Throughout the beginning of their careers, Manning routinely posted greater stats on teams that had a lot of offensive talent but were pretty one-sided. Meanwhile, Brady made every clutch play on teams that were well-rounded, well-coached, and quite frankly, lacked a lot of offensive firepower.
Over the last five or six years though, the roles have almost been reversed.
With the inclusion of Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and two of the best tight ends we have seen in recent memory, Brady has begun to put up some startling stats. Meanwhile, it’s Manning that has won more games and more Super Bowls since 2006 while he enjoyed some better coaching and the luxury of a better defense.
When it’s all said and done, it’s possible that Manning and Brady’s careers will look so similar that it’s hard to distinguish them at all (of course, Manning would need to win at least one more Super Bowl for this statement to be completely true…but I digress).
On the same token, Luck and RG3 actually aren’t that different.
Both guys are more athletic than nearly every other QB in the league. You know about Griffin, but maybe you didn’t realize that Luck posted a 40-time last year that matched the outrageous athleticism of Cam Newton.
Both guys are clear leaders, being elected captains by their peers and leading their teams to far better seasons (at this point) than they had a year ago.
Both guys are winning – and doing so in dramatic and entertaining fashion.
The temptation is plain. Debate politics, and run the risk of ruining friendships. Take a stand on real issues, and run the risk of having your character assaulted on social media.
But arguing is fun. So let’s argue about the minutiae. Luck vs. Griffin. Kobe vs. Jordan. Manning vs. Brady.
Not me. I think I’ll actually “take the high road” this time.
So have fun bashing Andrew Luck tonight as RG3 throws and runs for 5 TDs. I’ll choose to appreciate both.
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