There have been 46 Super Bowls played since Bart Starr and the Packers won the first two in 1966-67, and a rookie QB has never hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. Tradition, lack of experience, novice skill development and field vision, lack of opportunity and trust – these are all reasons that coaches/pundits/experts toss out there. This season is different. The rapid emergence of three great rookie starters with potential playoff squads in Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson – and everything about them – suggests that one could win a Super Bowl this season. No…seriously.
Here are 10 Reasons Why a Rookie QB Could Win the Super Bowl.
1. It’s never happened. Why not now? This is the Year of the Rookie QB
In the past, having a rookie starter was as rare as Kobe passing with the game on the line. When a rookie does start, like Peyton Manning did in 1998, struggles mire their first season. Usually, the only reason they are starting is because their team stinks. Solid squads prefer veteran QBs, who are used to the mental and physical rigors of the NFL playoffs. This season five rookies are full-time starters . The NFL’s Big Three have changed the game by proving it’s not about age, just the ability to deliver.
2. These rookies are playmakers, not game managers.
Rookie quarterbacks have traditionally been asked to just not muck the game up. Coaches usually don’t ask rookie QBs to win games with their arm. This crop of newby signal-callers have changed that by doing whatever it takes to avoid the L. Luck has been more of a gunslinger; his 564 attempts are among the league’s leaders. RG3 made plays from jump, outdueling Drew Brees 40-32 in Week 1, with 320 passing yards and two TDs. When asked to pass, Wilson has excelled, and his astute decision making has been the difference. Letting a rookie QB take the game into his hands in crucial playoff situations is a luxury no NFL coach has had in the past.
3. Super Bowl champs and their QBs usually play their best ball of the year as the season wears on. Seattle, Washington and Indianapolis are doing that.
To win a Super Bowl, a team has to be clicking on all cylinders, and the QB has to be in a zone. The Big Three and their teams are playing championship-caliber football. Seattle is 5-1 since Nov. 4 and Wilson has led them to 58 and 50 points in their last two, dispelling any lingering doubts about the Seahawks offense. Luck’s been sacked 37 times, fourth highest in the league, but the offense has found a groove. He is 5-2 in his last seven games, with season highs of 433 and 391 passing yards . The Redskins are streaking towards the playoffs on a 5-0 roll entering this weekend. With fellow rookie-sensation Alfred Morris (1,319 yards) controlling the line of scrimmage, the Skins are blossoming at the right time.
4. This is the era of the dual-threat QB. Arms and legs give defenses fits.
With the increased reliance on speed, spread offenses and pass-option formations has allowed these QBs to get busy throwing and passing. Even Luck, who’s considered the Big Three’s “purest” pocket passer, has flaunted his athleticism and knack for nastiness on the run. He has an impressive 4.6 rush average with 233 yards and 5 rushing TDs. These dual-threat QBs enhance their team’s scoring potential and are most dangerous with money on the floor.
5. Great defense can carry a young QB.
All of these rookie QBs can light up a scoreboard. Super Bowls are won on both sides of the ball, however, and Seattle’s third-ranked defense is what elevates Wilson’s chances to be the first rookie Super Bowl champ. Griffin III and Luck have spunky defenses, ranking in the bottom of the league, but as long as Luck is gunning, the Colts have a shot. The Skins have experienced growing pains, but are developing into that ’09 Saints bend-but-don’t-break defense. They are getting better at holding serve until RG3 can expose the opposition.
6. The playoffs is all about drama. These QBs share a flair for the dramatic.
All of these QBs go H.A.M. in big games. Luck established himself as an MVP candidate with signature game-winning drives against the Vikings in Week 2, the Packers in Week 5, the Titans in Week 8 and the Lions in OT in Week 13. Wilson’s already outdueled Aaron Rogers in a nail-biter (with some help from replacement refs), and threw for a career-high 293 yards in a dramatic 24-23 win over Tom Brady and New England. Wilson has also dethroned Cam Newton and Tony Romo this season. Also, can’t forget Wilson’s big O.T. win against the Bears, with his team desperate for a road win. RG3 has helped Washington take out three legit playoff contenders (Dallas, Giants and Ravens) in the past four weeks.
7. The Football Gods shine favorably on feel good stories.
The travels of these QBs are proof that they are built for stardom. Luck goes No. 1 out of Stanford, a la John Elway, and turns a two-win Colts franchise into playoff contenders, despite, losing head coach Chuck Pagano to leukemia. RG3’s impact on the NFL has been unprecedented. The Heisman winner’s captivated DC, transformed the Skins and already has the highest- selling jersey in the NFL. His fearlessness and willingness to sacrifice his body has made him a cult figure. Wilson defied the odds to become the new Doug Flutie…just better. When coach Pete Carroll announced him as the starter, all hell broke loose – but so did Wilson.
8. It’s plain easier for rookie QBs to win now.
Back in the days, a rookie QB had to worry about adjusting to the league and not getting his head ripped off. A coach wasn’t going to put his ass on the line for some snot-nosed new jack. With the new rule changes designed to protect QBs and player safety, the threat of flags and fines has opened it up for QBs, made the pocket safer, defenders hesitant and allowed younger players to flourish quicker. The addition of daring OCs and funky spread formations allows QBs to spend less time in the pocket and more time on the go, checking out passing lanes. No longer, are they sitting ducks totally dependent on the O-line. In other words, the cuffs are off and the birds can fly free.
9. These QBs play like vets.
We haven’t seen much of the “typical rookie mistakes” coming from these cats. RG3 has 18 TD’s and just 4 picks all season. Wilson ranks 8th in the NFL in passer rating at 95.5 and he has 21 TDs, just nine picks. Relative to his offensive burden and attempts, Luck’s 18 picks are decent and still pale in comparison to Manning’s 28 in his 1998 rookie season. To top it off, Luck’s nine rookie- wins dwarfs Manning’s 3-13 record. Win or lose, the success of these QBs won’t be influenced by their rookie status.
10. All three QBs have the physical dimensions and/or skills of most past Super Bowl QBs.
Look at some past Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks such as Brady, Elway, Johnny Unitas, Manning (pick one), and Steve Young . These quarterbacks share similarities in pocket presence, arm strength, accuracy, intelligence and grit. All of them are precise with the rock and undisputed team leaders. These rookies don’t cower at adversity, and in crunch-time, when rooks are supposed to be shook, share a mature penchant for the dramatic. The main attribute of all winning QBs is the ability to elevate others. That’s a skill these QBs have already shown.
The history books will be littered with trophies, trials and triumphs of the 2012 golden arms crew. No one can hate on a rookie QB that doesn’t win it in his first rodeo. For rooks it’s all about the future. But the way these cats get down, the future could be now.