"With the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford"
With those 17 words spoken by NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, the Indianapolis Colts ushered in a new era of Colts football. Since 1998, the only thing Colts fans have known and cared about has been Peyton Manning. And now, just like that, the future Hall-of-Famer is out and the unproven rookie is in.
Give Jim Irsay, the Colts owner, credit for making a decision to move on from Manning after Manning missed all of the 2011 season with a neck injury. In 2011, the Colts finished 2-14 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2001. In Manning's 13 years with the Colts, they won eight division titles and finished 1-1 in two Super Bowl appearances.
Andrew Luck took over a team that had very few old pieces in place, after Irsay made swift changes at the end of 2011. A new general manager (Ryan Griggson), a new head coach (Chuck Pagano), a new offensive coordinator (Bruce Aryans) to name a few and for the most part, the Colts were in a full rebuild and many expected Luck would struggle early on. At least that was the general consensus heading into the season.
Luck didn't get that memo. He has made an immediate impact with the Colts and he has the team in a position to make the playoffs this season. Currently, the Colts are 6-4 and hold the fifth-seed in the AFC, which would put them in a wild-card match-up against none other than, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
One key contributing factor to Luck's success this season has been the ability to hook up with veteran wide-out Reggie Wayne. The Colts resigned Wayne to a three-year contract extension this spring. Again, a very smart move on Irsay's part.
In addition to having Wayne as a target, the Colts drafted one of Luck's teammate's at Stanford; second-round pick, Colby Fleener to play tight end.
Through 10 games this season, Luck has thrown for over 300 yards, five times. He went head-to-head with Aaron Rodgers and won. He set the Colts single-season record for rushing touchdowns, five, by a quarterback. He needs only 775 yards to break Manning's Colts' rookie-record for passing yards and 1,087 yards to break the NFL record set by Cam Newton last season.
With all of the accolades Luck has been receiving and will receive at the end of the season, he is definitely not a lock for the offensive rookie of the year award. He has competition and really, really good competition at that.
Enter RGIII. Robert Griffin III was selected with the very next pick, by the Washington Redskins. RGIII was considered to be the second best quarterback in the draft behind Luck, and the Redskins wasted no time in moving up the draft board to get him.
The St. Louis Rams originally held the second-overall pick, but they drafted Sam Bradford, first-overall in 2010 and didn't want another quarterback. They accepted an offer from Washington to trade the pick in exchange for the Redskins sixth-overall pick in 2012, their second-round pick in 2012, and their first-round picks in 2013 and 2014. This may seem like a steep price to pay, but we can determine that in a few years.
Unlike Luck, RGIII is less of a conventional pocket passer and has blazing speed, which he can use to embarrass defenders in the open field. RGIII is exciting to watch and his team is winning a few games in the process. Going into week 7, the Redskins were 3-3 and then they lost three games in a row and all but eliminated themselves from playoff consideration.
That was before watching RGIII become the only rookie quarterback to throw for four touchdowns in back-to-back games. The Redskins win both of those games over division opponents (Eagles, Cowboys), and they have climbed right back into the playoff conversation.
Will the rookie of the year vote come down to; which quarterback can lead their team to the playoffs? Or, what if by some way, both the Colts and Redskins make the playoffs. How will affect the outcome? The last time two rookie quarterbacks started a playoff game in the same season was last season.
Last season, Andy Dalton (35th-overall, Bengals) and T.J. Yates (152nd-overall, Texans) met in the wild card round of the playoffs. Yates and the Texans won the game. If Luck and RGIII are to meet in the playoffs, they will have to wait until the Super Bowl.
One rookie quarterback that could potentially face RGIII in the playoffs this season is Seattle's Russell Wilson. Wilson was selected with the 75th-overall pick and has quietly put together a solid rookie campaign, guiding the Seahawks to a 6-4 mark.
The Tale of the Tape
Andrew Luck - Through 10 Games
235 of 412 (57.0%), 2,965 yards, 7.2 YPA, 12 TD, 12 INT, 77.2 passer rating
35 carries, 163 yards, 4.7 YPC, 5 TD
Three-time Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week - Week 3, Week 5, Week 8.
AFC Offensive Player of the Week - Week 9.
Fed-EX Air Player of the Week - Week 9.
Set single-game rookie passing record with 433 yards in 23-20 win over Miami Dolphins.
Robert Griffin III - Through 10 Games
206 of 305 (67.5%), 2,504 yards, 8.2 YPA, 16 TD, 4 INT, 104.6 passer rating
99 carries, 642 yards, 6.5 YPC, 6 TD
Three-time Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week - Week 1, Week 4, Week 6.
NFC Offensive Player of the Week - Week 1.
NFL Rookie of the Month - September, 2012.
Fed-Ex Air Player of the Week - Week 1.
Only player in NFL history to pass for 300-plus yards and 2 touchdowns without throwing an interception in his first start.