Commentary: NFL rookie QBs having early success
Andrew Luck's first working trip to New York didn't exactly go to plan, though some punishing defense by the Jets had a lot to do with that. All part of the learning curve for rookies, who sometimes have difficulty understanding that big second-half comebacks can't be pulled off every week in the NFL.
The leap from college was never going to be without setbacks, even for a quarterback with Stanford smarts and a receiver like Reggie Wayne. On Sunday in the Meadowlands, that wasn't nearly enough as Luck's rookie touchdown streak ended in a 35-9 romp by the Jets that showed the quarterback and the Indianapolis Colts are still a work in progress.
Dampening expectations in Indianapolis isn't such a bad idea because entire football teams can't be overhauled overnight. It was easy to forget in the wake of last week's thrilling comeback win over Green Bay that this was a team that was well on its way to a winless season last year before rallying to win two of its past three games.
Still, five games into his ascendant career, Luck already has shown that the Colts made the right — if extremely painful — decision to let Peyton Manning find work elsewhere. Barring injuries, Luck is going to be a good quarterback for a long time, which isn't something that can be assumed for either of the top two quarterbacks for the Jets.
“I'm glad we play him this year and not two years from now,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “He's got all the talent in the world.”
So does Robert Griffin III, who returned from a concussion Sunday to play for the Washington Redskins against the surprising Minnesota Vikings. Griffin might have learned a few things himself last week, especially about the career longevity of NFL quarterbacks who wait a half-second too long to go into a slide or get out of bounds.
Playing rookie quarterbacks isn't nearly as risky as it used to be. Rule changes have made the NFL more of a passing league, quarterbacks get more protection from officials and the rookies themselves have been playing in passing leagues since they were in middle school.
Five of them lined up behind center Sunday, and four of them walked away winners. Luck had a rough day, throwing two interceptions and failing in his bid to become the first Colts rookie quarterback to throw touchdown passes in five straight games, but he was the only one to lose.
The NFL always has been a young league, but the quarterback position keeps getting younger. Coaches once thought holding a quarterback out for a year to better learn the position was the only way to go, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one who thinks that way anymore.
To show how things have changed, it took 48 years for a quarterback to win the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award when Ben Roethlisberger won it in 2004. Since then, four out of seven winners have been quarterbacks — a figure that will almost surely go up after this season.
Now nearly a third of the starting quarterbacks in the NFL have less than two full years of experience, a startling statistic considering it is the most important position on the field.
Tim Dahlberg is a sports columnist for the Associated Press.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- For Steelers, a fight to finish for playoff berth
- Play of nose tackles could have impact on Steelers’ stretch run
- Steelers’ Wheaton embraces expanding role
- Cut by Steelers, LeGarrette Blount joins Patriots
- Lack of experienced backup means more work for Steelers RB Bell
- Steelers notebook: Heinz Field not in play for Bills-Jets
- Rossi: As Blount walked, Porter called
- Steelers Film Session: Sticking with what works
- Steelers’ Mitchell banned from social media
- Steelers rally past Titans for key win
- Steelers notebook: Gay, secondary brace for Saints QB Brees