Predicting RGIII's 2013 Stats; A Look at Past Elite QBs and Their Second Year Stats

Tom Pennington

Now is as good a time as any to research what we can expect stats-wise from RGIII in his second season. The "sophomore slump" is a term we hear regularly associated with mediocre quarterbacks, but for the elite tier of QBs, the stats show this does not happen...almost ever.

I pulled together the stats for all of the quarterbacks I could think of off-hand that started their entire rookie season and what they did their second year. So, this rules out guys like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Phillip Rivers, Randall Cunningham and Drew Brees. I also excluded Sam Bradford since he was injured significantly throughout his second season. Donovan McNabb played in six games his rookie year where his 2-4 record shot up to 11-5 his sophomore year with a 17 point increase in QB rating. Cam Newton had a similar stat line his second season from his rookie campaign despite the negative press. Newton logged 5 more INTs, but his QB Rating did go up a few points and the Panthers won one more game than in 2011 despite all their major injuries.

Since Robert Griffin III won Rookie of the Year, took what had been a terrible team for so many years to the playoffs, and re-energized the work ethic in the Redskins locker room, I think it's safe to say he is already at or near an elite level. For me, "elite" means a QB that not only executes a game plan, but is also able to make a positive play out of a negative situation. It's common to hear coaches say in post-game losses "the execution was poor." Elite players rarely make these mistakes. There are times in a game when we see a normal incompletion, but for all we know that incompletion was a play that the team had been setting up all day. An underthrown or overthrown ball can be a back-breaker, but Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning....it's common to see them running 70-yards down field to hug their WR in the end zone.

Let's look at some elite QBs and their first two year stats:

John Elway

Year

Games Started

Record

Compl/Att

Compl. %

Yards

TD

INT

INT %

Sacks

QB Rating

1983

10

4-6

123/259

47.5

1663

7

14

5.4%

28

54.9

1984

14

12-2

214/380

56.3%

2598

18

15

3.9

24

76.8

Peyton Manning

Year

Games Started

Record

Compl/Att

Compl. %

Yards

TD

INT

INT %

Sacks

QB Rating

1998

16

3-13

326/575

56.7%

3739

26

28

4.9%

22

71.2

1999

16

13-3

331/553

62.1%

4135

26

15

2.8%

14

90.7

Dan Marino

Year

Games Started

Record

Compl/Att

Compl. %

Yards

TD

INT

INT %

Sacks

QB Rating

1983

9

7-2

173/296

58.4%

2210

20

6

2.0%

10

96.0

1984

16

14-2

362/564

64.2%

5084

48

17

3.0%

13

108.9


Some honorable mentions:

  • Ben Roethlisberger [stats link] also saw his stats increase his sophomore year.
  • Troy Aikman [stats link] had a woeful 9/18 Touchdown to Interception ratio his rookie year where he won 0 games. Obviously, he improved over the next few years, but the stats improvement was not immediate.
  • Warren Moon interestingly saw a drop in his stats after his sophomore year. He threw five more interceptions despite playing in two less games and his QB Rating went down 12 points to a 68.5.
When estimating RGIII's 2013 stats, there are a lot of factors in play here from last season:
  • Less Rushing: RGIII had 120 rushing attempts for 815 yards. Surely, RGIII will be passing the ball more this year.
  • Weapons: RGIII did not have Fred Davis or Pierre Garcon for a large chunk of the season. With both of them returning healthy, that bodes well for the passing attack.
  • Strength of Schedule: The Redskins played all the last place NFC teams last year. In 2013, they will be playing all the first place teams.
  • Injury: He will be rehabbing his knee all summer instead of taking first team reps.
All things considered, it is quite incredible RGIII had a 100+ overall QB Rating as a rookie. Here are my estimates for 2013:

Robert Griffin III

Year

Games Started

Record

Compl/Att

Compl. %

Yards

TD

INT

INT %

Sacks

QB Rating

2012

15

9-6

258/393

65.6%

3200

20

5

1.3

30

102.4

2013

13

9-4

283/416

68.0%

3300

22

7

2.0%

28

101.0


As Mark Schlereth told me once, coaches cannot force a quarterback to play a certain way. When a quarterback is under duress, he will tend to revert back to what is natural to him. For RGIII, that means scrambling and extending the play, which we should all hope and expect he continues to do. Since RGIII will likely be throwing the ball more, I expect his INTs to rise slightly. I feel it's safe to say he will miss a handful of games in 2013 for precautionary reasons.

Given RGIII's worth ethic, football awareness, and ability to execute gameplans, barring injury, the Redskins fanbase can laugh off any RGIII "sophomore slump" predictions. The same goes for Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck.

Side note: Based on these stats findings, Andrew Luck would be a VERY good QB to draft in your fantasy league this year.

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