The Tuesday Muse, Week 9: A Mid-Season Look at Our Rookie QB’s, and Other Stuff From Around the League

As the Muse makes its return from hurricane hiatus, we’ll be looking at the relative success of 2012’s highly touted class of rookie quarterbacks as they reach the halfway point of the season.

Below are their passer rankings according Football Outsiders’ DVOA and DYAR, currently the two best metrics for evaluating performances of individual players. The full list of FO’s 2012 quarterback ratings is located here, and explanations of these metrics can be found here. The short-short version is that DVOA ranks a player’s value per play as a percentage higher (or lower) than the performance of a hypothetical replacement-level player, while DYAR represents (in terms of yards) a player’s cumulative contribution above (or below) that of a replacement-level player over the course of the season. (RGIII, for example, has accounted for 175 more passing yards than would a hypothetical replacement-level player occupying his same position—on the same team, against the same opponents—so far this year.)


  1. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis: 4.6% (overall rank: 12)
  2. Russell Wilson, Seattle: 1.2% (overall rank: 13)
  3. Robert Griffin III, Washington: -1.1% (overall rank: 15)
  4. Ryan Tannehill, Miami: -6.9% (overall rank: 21)
  5. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland: -26.7% (overall rank: 32)


  1. Robert Griffin III: 175 (overall rank: 15)
  2. Andrew Luck: 358 (overall rank: 11)
  3. Russell Wilson: 206 (overall rank: 14)
  4. Ryan Tannehill: 68 (overall rank: 21)
  5. Brandon Weeden: -351 (overall rank: 33)

All the rookies, aside from Weeden, are clustered right around league average. Griffin and Luck, though, add significant contribution as rushers, increasing their value significantly: they are ranked first and second, respectively, in rushing DYAR among all quarterbacks. Luck is ranked seventh in DVOA (42.3%), however, while Griffin is ranked seventeenth (18.2%); this suggests that, while they move well on the ground, Luck and Griffin have yet to develop a full understanding of when, and when not, to strike out on their own.

Four of the five rookies this year are, so far, matching the performance of last year’s two top rookie quarterbacks, Andy Dalton and Cam Newton.

2011 Passing DVOA/DYAR

  1. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati: 5.6% / 575 (13 / 12)
  2. Cam Newton, Carolina: 0.8% / 404 (16 / 15)
  3. Christian Ponder, Minnesota: -31.5% / -404 (43 / 45)
  4. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville: -46.5% / -1,009 (46 / 47)

Newton, of course, also contributed on the ground, ranking first in rushing DYAR among all quarterbacks (188)—but, like Griffin, coming in significantly lower in DVOA (twelfth, at 14.5%). Ponder also had value running the ball in 2011, ranking fifth in DYAR (59) and—more importantly—second in DVOA (36.5%). (Interestingly, as combined runners and passers, Griffin and Luck this season are playing out a close parallel to the 2011 Newton and Dalton.)

The rookie class of 2012 is thus (so far) having about the same level of success as the top half of 2011’s class, though there are twice as many rookie QB’s succeeding this season as there were in 2011.


Box of the Week

Chicago Bears 51, Tennessee Titans 20

The Bears on Sunday continued their incredible run of takeaways, recovering four fumbles (out of six forced) and returning an interception for a touchdown. They also blocked a punt for a TD. So far this season, Chicago leads the league in defensive touchdowns with seven (six on interception returns, and Sunday’s blocked punt).


The Rounds:

  • The Steelers took a daytrip to East Rutherford on Sunday.
  • The fascinating question about having a farm system for pro football is whether anyone would go to the minor league games. Football doesn’t have the family-at-the-ballgame cultural status that baseball has, so it’s hard to imagine going to a AAA football game as a day out to watch young men compete in the sunshine. It would make an excellent support system for the NFL, though.
  • The best part of this story is that Bobby Hebert totally gives, like, no thought to the scruples of his peers.
  • And the title of this post speaks for itself.
  • The Rams were the latest team this week to get in trouble for hiding injuries. A good question that no one is asking is, why is the league suddenly so concerned about this issue? (There’s also been a lot of attention to players doing the exact opposite.)

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