November 20, 2012
Rookie NFL QBs 'blow away' Ron Jaworski
By JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency
Eight rookie quarterbacks have taken meaningful snaps so far this NFL season.
Never mind that the hyperbole bar was set well into the clouds before Week 1. The youngsters, as a group, are performing at a level somewhere into the jet stream.
"I am absolutely blown away by the quarterback play of these rookies," Ron Jaworski, the former NFL quarterback who's now an analyst with ESPN, told writers Tuesday on a conference call. "These guys are so much more prepared to play in the NFL, I just can't believe it.
"As a rookie, I was happy to get out of a huddle in 30 seconds, let alone go out there and execute the offence the way these guys have."
The rookies' numbers aren't all Christmas presents and candy-store vouchers. There are plenty of coal lumps in those stockings, too.
Start with Andrew Luck, the first player taken in April's draft.
The Indianapolis Colt had been on a roll heading into New England last Sunday, but he played every bit like a rookie trying too hard in his first head-to-head matchup against Tom Brady, throwing three ugly interceptions, and fumbling under duress in the pocket.
Luck otherwise has shown so much upside through 10 games, that all the ballyhoo appears legit.
As for Robert Griffin III, you can count Jaworski among the critics who put the Washington Redskin at the head of the rookie class so far.
Griffin has led the Redskins to a 4-6 record, and ranks fifth in the NFL with a passer rating of 101.0.
"This guy has played 10 games, and he has been a very consistent quarterback," said Jaworski, who played from 1973-89 with the Rams, Eagles, Dolphins and Chiefs. "There are many veterans that don't give you consistent quarterbacking, week in and week out, and here's a rookie coming in (and doing just that).
"I think RGIII has been the biggest surprise after 10 games."
Jaworski used almost as many superlatives to describe the play of the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson. Before August, most experts couldn't see past Wilson's 5-foot-11 height, way too short by historical NFL standards.
Jaworski said he's guilty as charged.
"I take a lot of pride in my prep with college players coming in, and I thought Russell Wilson would be a good, solid backup quarterback for a decade in the NFL," Jaworski said. "He has come in and shown incredible poise, pocket awareness, a strong arm and an ability to make plays "¦ I am very, very impressed with the play of Russell Wilson.
"(With blockers) 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-8 in front of you, I don't care if you're 6-foot-3, you still have to move and find passing lanes. And I think he does an outstanding job of that."
And Wilson has been clutch.
"We all have a tendency to look at stats, because that's kind of the primary thing to evaluate players with. But what's been impressive about Wilson is he's made plays when the game has been tied, or they're behind."
The other two first-round draft picks, Miami's Ryan Tannehill and Cleveland's Brandon Weeden, have struggled more and more as the season has progressed.
That's to be expected, Jaworski said. One, because the teams they play on have talent shortages at wide receiver (especially Miami) and, two, because that old adage about defences "figuring out" a first-time quarterback is essentially true.
"There's an ebb and flow to young quarterbacks, and to every offensive team and defensive team as the season goes," Jaworski said. "Adjustments are made. And I think what you're seeing now is teams are adjusting to what the Dolphins are doing."
As well, the Miami running game has dried up, and Dolphins receivers aren't getting much separation from defensive backs, "so windows are tight that Ryan is throwing into.
"When you look at a young rookie quarterback in a new system, you need all the other components to be perfect -- at optimum levels," Jaworski said. "And (Miami's) haven't been, and I think that really has impacted Ryan's performance."
The sixth rookie quarterback to start this season was Nick Foles of Philadelphia, last week in Washington. Jaworski watched the game on TV and thought Foles was "a little bit frenetic." But after watching the coaches' tape, he changed his mind.
"When I look at the tape, I look at the quarterback's feet first. Because if his feet are skittish and flying around, that means that's how they're thinking. If they're calm and collected with their footwork, they're usually calm and collected in their mind.
"I thought for the most part, Foles was under control."
It sure looks like 20 years from now, we'll all still be talking about the accomplishments of that deep, talented 2012 quarterback class.
"I think it's a tribute to the way these guys are coached not only at the NFL level, but at the college level," Jaworski said. "These players now are mature beyond their years."