Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Ranking the rookie quarterbacks – Week 2 edition

Week 2 of the NFL season saw the five rookie starting quarterbacks all have very solid days, with three of the five coming out on the winning end of the scoreboard.

After combining to throw four touchdowns against 11 interceptions in Week 1, the group bounced back seven touchdowns against just one interception in Week 2.

Earning their first career NFL wins were Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and Seattle’s Russel Wilson; while Washington’s Robert Griffin III and Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden came out on the short end.

Let’s see how the group – four of whom were taken in the first round of the draft (with Wilson being the outlier) and will be linked together for not only this season but also their careers – rank after two weeks on the job.

1. (Last week: 1) Robert Griffin III, Washington. (20-of-29 for 206 yards, one touchdown, one interception, one sack, 86.3 quarterback rating). Griffin may not have put up the same numbers he did in Week 1, but he still was pretty impressive against St. Louis. Griffin was 4-for-5 on throws over 10 yards, passing for 122 yards and a touchdown on those plays. Through two games, he is 12-for-17 on those throws, totaling 362 yards and two touchdowns. According to Elias, Griffin has three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in his first two games; the only other quarterbacks to do that since the NFL-AFL merger are Jake Delhomme (1999) and Cam Newton (2011).

Griffin also has two pass plays of more than 60 yards; the last player to do that in his first two career NFL games was Ed Rubbert, a replacement player in 1987. So at least we know that Griffin is a good as a scab player.

2. (Last week: 2) Russell Wilson, Seattle. (15-of-20, 151 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interception, 2 sacks, 112.7 quarterback rating). Wilson had the highest completion percentage (75.0) by a Seattle rookie in team history (minimum 20 attempts) in the Seahawks win over Dallas.

“He’s a rookie quarterback, but he plays with great poise, and he is a very good athlete,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett told The Seattle Times. “As the game wore on, they did a great job moving him around, and he made some real signature plays in this ballgame.”

3. (Last week: 3) Andrew Luck, Indianapolis. (20-of-31, 224 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 2 sacks, 107.5 quarterback rating). Luck finished 15-of-20 for 143 yards and two touchdowns when facing a rush of four or fewer players against the Vikings.

“We’ve all seen glimpses of what he’s capable of doing,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano told the team’s website.  “The guy is mature beyond his years.  He’s a talented, talented guy.  I don’t know going in if everybody would do that with their quarterback, but that’s just the trust and faith we have with the guys up front, even though we’re playing with a MASH unit, so to speak, the tight ends, the skilled players that are around him, the backs, the protection and certainly the quarterback making it all happen.”

4. (Last week: 4) Ryan Tannehill, Miami. (18-of-30, 200 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions, 1 sack, 91.0 quarterback rating). We really wanted to move Weeden up to No. 4, but Tannehill walked away with a win over the Raiders, so he holds his spot. Tannehill had a passing touchdown and rushing score, and was able to hit several sideline throws. He struggled, however, when under pressure, as his yards per attempt fell from 8.1 to 2.8 when he was feeling heat from the Raiders.

5. (Last week: 5) Brandon Weeden, Cleveland. (26-of-37, 322 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 2 sacks, 114.91 quarterback rating). That just leaves us with Weeden, who had one of the biggest rebound games in recent memory. In Week 1, RG3 threw for more than 300 yards and two touchdowns and people were ready to crown him MVP. Weeden does the same thing in Week 2 and he basically gets an “atta boy” from the national media.

Weeden’s 322 passing yards broke the team mark for a rookie quarterback, pushing the immortal Eric Zeier, who had 310 yards against the Bengals in 1995, off the top of the list. Weeden also led the team to 27 points, a mark the Browns have topped only three times in the past three seasons.

“Last week was not the way I wanted it to go,” Weeden said. “A true competitor, a guy that’s mentally tough, will come back and bounce back and correct the mistakes he made last week. For the most part, I think I did that. Like I said, I look back at a couple plays, just one play that goes our way and it could be the deciding factor. We’ll continue to get better. We took a step forward offensively. We need to find a way to get those Ws.”

“I saw him throw the ball confidently,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “Sometimes it’s hard to take a guy who is a great thrower and say listen, take a check down. You saw later in the game, in the last drive, when we went down and got a field goal. We were calling plays to take shots that they were legislating against and boom. He kept hitting Obie (Chris Ogbonnaya) on the check downs and we walked the ball down the field. There’s some learning there that took place, and as you might expect in my own little way, I’ve been trying to encourage that. They have to do it to feel it and I think that’s good.”

Weeden is even making Mohamed Massaquoi into a serviceable receiver. On Sunday, the third-year player caught five passes for 90 yards.

“We were able to make some of the plays that we weren’t able to make last week,” Massaquoi said. “We’re just going to continue to try and correct those mistakes that we had, just so we can be a little bit more potent, a little bit more explosive and just take some of the pressure off the defense because they’re playing phenomenal right now.”

If Weeden shows that same kind of improvement this week against Buffalo, he may actually start climbing up the rankings.

(Photo courtesy of ClevelandBrowns.com)

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