In the first instalment of “Red Flag Friday” Fiasco Sports’ NFL analyst CHRIS GUSCOTT challenges a great modern debate.
When a coach in the NFL throws a red flag onto the field, it means that he’s challenging the call because the decision looked wrong from his perspective.
In the first instalment of “Red Flag Friday”, one of the great modern debates gets challenged as the season inches closer to commencement.
Which of the second-year superstar quarterbacks is set to have a better 2013-2014 season; Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck?
Ever since Luck and Griffin were taken as the top two picks in the 2012 NFL Draft, the public forum erupted with opinion over which of these highly-touted quarterbacks was going to be more successful and have more of an impact for their respective teams.
Both of these players had sensational college careers, and both have been described as highly mature leaders who were seemingly ready-made for big league action.
Of the two quality quarterbacks, which of these will have the most impact in 2013-2014?
1) Who statistically had the better rookie season? Verdict: Griffin
Luck’s rookie season saw him throw for 23 touchdowns, in conjunction with finishing 7th in total passing yards (4,374) and 5th in total passing attempts (627) in a terrific season.
Despite these statistics, and leading the Indianapolis Colts to an 11-5 record, Griffin was statistically and athletically superior in his first season for the Washington Redskins.
Griffin completed his rookie season with a 102.4 Passer Rating, the 3rd best in the entire league, and this was largely due to him finishing top of the league in yards per attempt (8.14) and touchdown-interception ratio (4:1), as well as being in the top 5 in passing completion rate (65.4%).
Yet it was his rushing that made his statistics extraordinary, with RGIII piling up an extra 7 touchdowns, 815 yards and the league’s best yards per rush attempt statistic (6.8).
His offensive flair and unpredictability helped push his team to a 10-6 record and a wild-card playoff berth, the Redskins’ first appearance in the post-season since 2007.
2) Which player had the least support from their team? Verdict: Luck
The Colts’ 11-5 record may suggest that Luck had plenty of help, but Griffin’s Redskins had more of a dual-threat offence which caused defences to treat them with caution.
Griffin’s rookie sidekick, running back Alfred Morris, ranked second in total rushing yards (1,613) and rushing touchdowns (13), as well as averaging over 100 yards per game.
Morris’ runs not only gave the Redskins another avenue to the end zone, but freed space for Griffin to run pass-option plays as Morris received plenty of attention by opposing defenders on play-action runs.
Griffin also had considerable talent receiving his throws, with Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss combining for over 1,200 yards receiving.
Luck had plenty of talent in his receiving unit as well, with veteran Reggie Wayne tallying 1,355 yards, the 7th most in the league, and T.Y Hilton, who received for 861 yards in his rookie season.
However, Luck had no support through his running back Vick Ballard, who rushed for just 814 yards, and this caused the Colts to run a pass-first offence, which placed increased pressure on the young shoulders of Luck.
3) Which player is most likely to become a victim of the “Sophomore Slump”? Verdict: Griffin
Griffin’s dual-threat style of play may have been effective in his rookie season, but he only has to look as far as Carolina Panther Cam Newton to see what a second season could hold.
Cam Newton’s rookie season in 2011 saw him throw for 21 touchdowns and amass over 4,000 yards in passing, yet just like Griffin was extraordinary with his rushing.
Newton ran for 706 yards, and scored an unbelievable 14 touchdowns to make Carolina extremely dangerous on pass-option plays, specifically in the endzone.
Yet Newton’s sophomore season was a significant downgrade, scoring 8 less total touchdowns and failing to have the same impact that he had through his rookie season.
A possible reason for this is that Newton succumbed to the high expectations placed on him, and with so much pressure to perform such an intense style of play, defences were able to feast on the errors that Newton made.
Griffin could potentially follow the same script this season, with the pressure on Griffin to lead this team back to the playoffs growing daily.
Griffin’s tendency to leave the pocket also leaves him susceptible to hits from linebackers, and this was made most apparent when Griffin received multiple hard hits which left him battered and bruised and less than 100% for the playoffs.
Griffin is currently recovering well from an ACL injury and is expected to back for Week 1, yet his style of play poses the question; Is Griffin eventually going to become a liability due to potential injuries?
Luck however, is more of a traditional pocket-passing quarterback and this style of play leaves defences sitting back more in zones, rather than blitzing.
Luck threw for 18 interceptions last season, yet this number is expected to fall with experience and with the poise that Luck shows, it will be no surprise if Luck improves into one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the league.
Luck could potentially have the most impact in the 2013-2014 season, yet nothing will be a given until the season officially starts on September 5.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, as well as suggest what to cover in the next “Red Flag Friday”.
Written By Chris Guscott