RG III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson all played above and beyond their expectations last season. All three took their respective teams to the playoffs and enjoyed success usually reserved for veteran QB’s in the NFL. Who among the three is most susceptible to a sophomore slump? I think its more accurate to look at the teams that surround them to see if there are any reasons to be concerned.
I can easily see how one would point to Griffin with him coming off a knee injury and that severely cutting down on what makes him the player he is. I would argue that the knee injury will ultimately make him a better quarterback. Not a better player, but a better quarterback. Forcing him to sit in the pocket, read defenses and get rid of the ball quickly instead of extending plays with his legs which could extend his career and make him an even better QB. One of the biggest positives for RGIII is the return of Alfred Morris in the backfield next to him. Morris should be able to take pressure off of Griffin and help keep him healthy in 2013. The Redskins (or whatever they will be named) sported the #1 running game in the NFL last season. This was in large part due to Griffin’s contribution of 815 yards at a 6.8 average per carry. Its easy to feel confident that Griffin will see those numbers go down. You have to protect the franchise QB and one of the new young faces of the NFL. However, I don’t see the Redskins running game taking a big hit with RGIII being more cautious in the running game. I see an up-tick in Griffins passing attempts and the Redskins being more reliant on the legs of Alfred Morris.
Lets look at Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks to see if we see a potential for a second year drop off. Wilson, with his unwavering confidence and “it” factor overload won the starting job from Matt Flynn as a 3rd round pick in 2012. Many people want to point to the fact that Wilson was a 3rd round pick and use that as a case that he had the best season of the rookie trio. The whole Luck and Griffin were expected to perform at this level, Wilson was overlooked and came from no where to lead the Seahawks to the playoffs idea. I will give it to them that it was less expected, but Wilson was on a dynamite team. He had a very good running game led by Marshawn Lynch and a stellar defense featuring the breakout season of Richard Sherman with his 8 INT’s. Wilson never seemed phased by the transition to the NFL and credit the coaching staff of the Seahawks for slowly opening up the playbook so he wasn’t overwhelmed. Wilson will continue to be sheltered by the running game and the defense in Seattle and will surely be helped by the addition of Percy Harvin who is a YAC machine. Unless the whole team is busted for Adderall I don’t see how they could fall far in 2013. Wilson and the Seahawks trail only the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots as odds on favorites to win the 2014 Super Bowl with 8-1 odds (as of June 4th).
Finally, the golden boy of the 2012 draft, Andrew Luck. I heard Luck being compared with Ben Roethlisberger the other day and I really liked that comparison. He was often compared to former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning due to him taking over for the legend but I see a lot of Big Ben’s traits when watching Luck. His ability to avoid the rush and make plays saved the Colts last season and helped lead them to the playoffs. The addition of Darrius Heyward-Bey will add a vertical dimension to the Colts passing game. I also believe we will see bigger things from Colby Fleener at tight end this season and I love me some T.Y. Hilton. What scares me about the Colts is their lack of running game (ranked 22nd in YPG in 2012) and their lack of defensive ability to stop the run or the pass. I like the addition of Bjoern Werner to the defensive line and consider him an upgrade over the worn out Dwight Freeney who is now with the Chargers, but there are still plenty of holes in the defense to be concerned. Of the three I see Luck and the Colts as the most possible to have a drop off in production. Vick Ballard is a solid running back but is hardly going to scare teams into playing the run. His 3.9 average on 211 carries for 814 yards isn’t striking fear into defensive coordinators across the league. When you have no fear of a running game you can tee off on the pass rush. Scary situation for Luck and the Colts. The AFC South poses little threat as only the Houston Texans are legitimate so the Colts should remain competitive in the division but I think they will be competing for a Wild Card spot.
If I were picking a team to have a drop off and in turn a QB to seem to have a second year slump it would be the Indianapolis Colts and Andrew Luck. This isn’t to say Andrew Luck is the worst of the three or HE will have a “sophomore slump”. I just see the Colts as the most likely to see a drop off due to their overall team production. Andrew Luck is every bit as good as everyone thought he was (in my best Denny Green voice) but the Colts seem like they are still in a bit of a rebuilding mode and this makes them/him vulnerable to a drop off. I do offer this bit of good news for Colts fans, the Colts have the easiest schedule of the trio.