The feats accomplished this season by Andrew Luck, RGIII and Russell Wilson have been nothing short of incredible. Their exhilarating play has helped to elevate their teams into legitimate playoff contention, and their productivity has been such that they all deserve measured consideration in the MVP discussion. However, while distinctions between the three may come down to splitting hairs, there can be no question that Luck is significantly behind his contemporaries.

I should preface this analysis by stating that Andrew Luck is a phenomenal talent. He was drafted by a team that was fresh off a legendary Peyton Manning tenure, huge player and staff turnover and a woefully incompetent 2-14 season. This season, he has led his team to a 9-5 record which puts them in pole position to secure a wild card berth. He has also broken several rookie records already, including wins in a season for a quarterback and passing yards in a single game. Today, he only needs 74 passing yards to break Cam Newton’s single season rookie passing record.

His overall passing yards this season (3,978) obviously stand out, and they dwarf those put up so far by RGIII (2,902) and Wilson (2,697). However, this is where the superiority ends. The reason for this disparity is the fact that on average Luck is throwing the ball 13 times a game more than RGIII and 15 times more than Wilson. Luck’s completion percentage is an unimpressive 54.6%, while RGIII is at 66.4% and Wilson is at 62.9%.

How about QB rating? Luck’s is currently 75.5. This puts him obviously above the fumbling punchline that is Mark Sanchez and marginally above the least impressive rookie QB, Brandon Weedon (72.4). It is a rating that ranks below Tannehill, Stafford, Palmer, Flacco, Freeman, Newton, Dalton, Rivers, Bradford, Fitzpatrick, Ponder and Vick. It even ranks lower than Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne and Nick Foles.

Conversely, RGIII’s rating of 104.2 exceeds that of Ryan, BradyBrees and both Manning brothers. Russell Wilson is not too far behind with a rating of 95.5. In terms of overall statistics, Wilson was rated as the 29th best quarterback after the first five weeks of the season; since then, he has been statistically the best quarterback in the entire league.

You may say that’s all well and good, but what about the intangibles? Luck has already secured six game-winning drives this season; this is double the amount mustered up by either Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers. The comeback win in Detroit as time expired was magical. But let us not forget that while in that game against the Lions Luck passed for 391 yards and 4 touchdowns, he also threw three interceptions and ultimately completed less than 45% of his passes. In other words, his ineptitude created the hole which he just about climbed out of.

This brings us to the most important strand of the debate: turnovers. Luck’s 20 touchdowns are weighed down by 18 interceptions. Only Drew Brees has thrown as many picks this season. On top of this, Luck also has 10 fumbles to his name. RGIII has balanced his 18 touchdown passes with only 4 interceptions, and Wilson’s ratio is a healthy 21:9. Granted, RGIII has had 9 fumbles this season but he rushes the football significantly more than Luck. Russell Wilson has only fumbled the ball twice in 78 rushing attempts.

This discussion does not even need to focus on rushing the football in great detail. Luck is an incredible physical specimen and, although it is hard to tell by looking at him, at the combine he ran just as fast as Cam Newton. He is agile and mobile, and can make plays on the run under pressure. But RGIII adds a little something more. He has rushed for 748 yards (breaking Newton’s record) at a surreal 6.7 yards per carry. RGIII is one of only two quarterbacks to rush for over 600 yards this season. Wilson has put up a respectable 402 yards at an efficient 5.2 yards per carry.

Luck has surpassed all expectations for his rookie season, but there needs to be some perspective. The Colts’ 2-14 record was something of a deceit, as they were not that bad a team last year; the season was given up on very early and the reins handed to some guy called Curtis Painter. There has been a substantial turnover in personnel, but key pieces like Freeney and Wayne were kept, while an explosive talent in T.Y. Hilton was acquired. Furthermore, while the turnaround in their record has been fantastic, the Colts have had the second easiest schedule in the league. Their last 7 wins have come against teams with a record below .500. The Colts have not beaten a team with a winning record since the Packers in Week 5. Luck is also fortunate to be plying his trade in a weaker AFC conference, while RGIII and Wilson are embroiled in the Battle Royale that is the NFC.

These three rookies have all been sensational. But for most media analysts and fans to hold Luck in a higher regard, or to simply shrug their shoulders and say it is too close to call, it is a fallacy. Do not be blinded by the huge passing numbers or the team record. RGII and Wilson prove that you do not need Luck to stand out in this league.


Oggy’s Quick Slants

–       By the way, are people forgetting that the Rams traded away the second pick and a shot at RGIII? How is that working out for them? The Rams are 6-7-1 and while Bradford has demonstrated some level of consistency, he is not quite living up to the hype despite now being in his third season.


–       Against the Bills last weekend, Russell Wilson became the first quarterback to run for three touchdowns in one half since Daunte Culpepper did it against the Bears on September 3rd, 2000. His 21 touchdown passes this season also place him in a tie for second all-time with Cam Newton among NFL rookies. He has a fair distance to go to beat the record, with Peyton Manning’s 26 touchdowns in 1998 leading the way. It should be remembered, however, that Manning did also accrue 28 interceptions that year.