When the names Dan Marino, John Elway and Jim Kelly come to mind, you’d be hard press to find greater trio of quarterbacks when it comes to overall body of work and draft class. While the three went on to have remarkable careers, only one can claim to have led his team to the playoffs in his rookie season. That one is Dan Marino! In the 11 games that Marino played in his debut season (nine games started), the former Pittsburgh Panther completed 58% of his passes, threw for 2,210 yards, 20 touchdowns and just six interceptions. There are veterans who have and still struggle to post such numbers in an entire season.
Fast forward almost three decades later, another triad of highly regarded quarterbacks have emerged from their draft class. This time around, all three can stake claim to leading their teams to the postseason in their first season under center. Who are these quarterbacks of the future?
First, there’s Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks. The third round choice out of Wisconsin was supposed to be no more than an understudy for newly acquired, free agent quarterback Matt Flynn. The preseason said otherwise! Despite the indictments on his height, Wilson went out and claim what he felt was his to begin with. Since being named the starter, Wilson has been major in Seattle’s stance against the San Francisco 49ers for NFC West supremacy. In addition, he’s thrown 20 touchdowns and has the fourth best passer rating (100.0) among all signal callers.
Next, there’s the Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck. Of the bunch, he was heralded at the most NFL ready quarterback to be drafted. That’s an accolade that comes with playing in a pro style offense while under center for the Stanford Cardinal. Luck leads all rookie quarterbacks in receiving yards at 4,374. An attribute of his game that you won’t find statistical evidence of is his deceptive mobility. He may not be the most athletic rookie, but when in duress, he knows how to use his feet to get himself out of tight spots. In addition, the diagnosis of Leukemia upon his head coach Chuck Pagano has ignited something in Luck to leave it all on the field.
Finally, there’s the source behind the restored hope in the Nation’s Capital, Robert Griffin III. Of the rookie class, he is tops in quarterback rating, with a mark of 102.4. His touchdown to interception ratio is 4-to-1 (20 TDS, 5 INTs). He didn’t even need a full 16 games to set a new rushing yards record for rookie quarterback, with 815, a mark that shattered Cam Newton’s 706 mark of a season ago. Like Luck, there’s an area of his game that isn’t recorded on the stat sheets. After suffering a disappointing loss to the Newton’s Panthers and falling to 3-6, Griffin vowed things would get better. All the Redskins have done in response to his claim was rattle off a seven game winning streak and snatch the NFC East title from a New York Giant team that once held a five game lead over its foes.
Now the time has come for the three to show and prove what they can do in the season that counts. Isn’t amazing that two of the three will face each other in the opening Wildcard Weekend? A cancellation process will come full circle between two, while the third hopes to continue help his team do the unexpected.
The playoffs are here. With that said, here we go:
Bengals over Texans
Packers over Vikings
Colts over Ravens
Redskins over Seahawks
I closed out the regular season at 13-3 in week 17. With fewer games in the postseason, the room for error has shrunk tremendously. How will it all pan out? Buckle up!
By Antoine Hoffman