2012 was the year of the quarterback in the NFL. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III went with the top two picks of the draft. Russell Wilson was drafted in the third round as an afterthought to many. That would soon change as all three quarterbacks would change the dynamics of their respective franchises and lead them to all to postseason play.
Luck would fall in his first playoff game to eventual champs Baltimore Ravens. RGIII is well chronicled, he would suffer an injury that would lead to eventual surgery as his Redskins lost to Wilson's Seahawks. Wilson would then go on the following week to watch his defense let a late lead slip away to the Atlanta Falcons and with it a trip to the NFC Championship game. Three rookie quarterbacks, three postseason appearances.
So who was the best in 2012? Based on success, you would say Russell Wilson, but many will argue. So now the focus turn to 2013 and who will take the next step. Some would say RGIII as he appears to be returning healthy from the surgery, others will take Russell Wilson based on how close he was to the NFC Championship game. However, here are the five reasons that 2013 will be Andrew Luck's year and he will outperform the others.
No. 5 - Weapons:
RGIII has a trio of Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss, and Joshua Morgan. If you'd like, you can add Leonard Hankerson to the group as well. Garcon and Moss are on the back ends of their careers and while most are still productive, neither are a top flight number one target and both have injury issues. RGIII would prefer to have them both healthy and one of their rookie receivers turn into a surprise find.
Russell Wilson was suppose to have a go-to-guy in Percy Harvin this season. That didn't last as Harvin is preparing to have hip surgery that could keep him out the entire season. Sidney Rice is there though you may have forgotten him since he barely hit the field last season. A healthy Rice could be a nice option for Wilson. Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate round out the trio who both have shown flashes but no consistency. One of them will have to step up and be a consistent producer for Wilson to dominate.
Andrew Luck has Reggie Wayne who much like Garcon and Moss in Washington is on the back end of his career. Difference is last year he stayed on the field and produced like a legit number one receiving option. They've brought in the speedy Darrius Heyward-Bey from Oakland and have T.Y. Hilton from last year who came on strong toward the end of the year. With a year under Hilton's belt and Heyward-Bey getting balls thrown from Luck now, this is the strongest trio of the three.
No. 4 - Luck is a pure QB:
Wilson and RGIII are mobile quarterbacks. They run the read option, looking to stretch the pocket and throw a majority of short, high percentage throws. Luck is a pure quarterback, a pocket passer, who looks down the field first before working through his progressions.
While Wilson and RGIII threw for higher perecentages than Luck, Luck threw for over 1100 yards more than either of them. He also ran for more yards than either RGIII or Wilson last season. Luck is a quarterback who tends to trend upwards in the early stages of his career where as RGIII and Wilson will be flashes in the league.
No. 3 - Opponents:
Just look at the divisions these quarterbacks play in. RGIII plays in the brutal NFC East which features the Giants defensive line, a now Monte Kiffin led Cowboys defense, and a new look Eagles defense.
Wilson gets the NFC West with the punshing 49ers defense, combined with the Rams and Arizona who, outside of the 58-0 beatdown against Arizona late in the year, played very well against Wilson and the Seahawks.
Luck gets the Ravens who defense lost multiple pieces from a Super Bowl team, Tennessee whose defense is hit or miss and Jacksonville who could be a team in the hunt for the number one pick in next year's draft.
Luck will have the much easier divison road to travel against bad defenses and an overall not great AFC.
No. 2 - Regression:
As mentioned earlier, RGIII and Wilson threw for higher pecentages than Luck last year. Wilson threw for more touchdowns, and Luck had the most interceptions of the group. While due to the nature of their offenses its unlikely Luck will throw for a higher percentage than either Wilson or RGIII, the defenses are better acclimated to them this year.
There is nothing worse for a defense than a mobile quarterback they've never seen, especially when its combined with an offensive scheme not normally run. Defenses will be better prepared to handle them this year and therefore expect to see Wilson's and RGIII's numbers to drop.
Meanwhile, Luck the pocket passer, now with more experience can slow the game on and won't feel as much pressure to squeeze balls into small windows. Luck's numbers from top to bottom should be the best of the group come years end with no debate.
No. 1 - Expectations:
You're season is usually qualified with who you played based on expectations. So think about these three quarterbacks and where their expectations are a year later?
For Wilson, if not for his defense he would have led the Seahawks to the NFC Championship last year. So naturally, many expect Wilson to reach that point or beyond this season.
RGIII, coming off of surgery there are a lot of questions but he's been cleared to practice and everyone says he's healthy. First game he shows that the expecations are sky high. Many thought a healthy RGIII would have led the Redskins past the Seahawks last year and then who knows what. A healthy RGIII is expected to win the division and make a deep playoff run.
For Luck, he made the playoffs last year and went out quickly, no shame losing to the evental champs. But many believe the Colts overacheived last year and while missing the playoffs after missing them for most is regression, in this case its expected. So for Luck to go out and possibly win the divison but minimum make the playoffs would exceed expectations. Any wins in the postseason is icing on the cake so to speak.
So while Wilson and RGIII are expected not only to make the postseason but make runs, Luck is not expected to do much. There's no greater position to be in than the overlooked.
That's why when its all said and done, Luck will be the best quarterback of the group in 2013.