Rookie QB Comparison: Wilson’s Faced Toughest Competition

50 yard line on an american football field

Part I: Performance vs. Top 10 Defenses
Part II: Trended Performance Over First Three Months
Part III: Home vs. Road Performance
Part IV: Performance on Deep Throws
Part V: Calm in the Clutch

Before anyone crowns Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, they may want to take a look at the story behind the statistics. This is the first in a series of articles comparing the rookie quarterback class of 2012. First up, let’s take a look at how each has stacked up against the best defenses in the NFL.

The table below shows how many games each player played against a Top 10 defense (based on opponent yards per game), how many games versus a Top 10 pass defense (based on opponent passer rating), and the cumulative total games played against Top 10 defenses (either yards or passer rating). Note, some defenses are both Top 10 in yards against and opponent passer rating, so those games are counted in both columns. To get the cumulative passer rating against the discrete opponents, take a look at the last column.

The first thing you might notice is that Wilson’s cumulative rating against Top 10 defense is higher than either of his individual splits. It did not make sense to me at first, either. Wilson was the only player to face two teams that were both Top 10 in opponent yards and Top 10 in opponent passer rating, and he threw an interception against both, so those showed up in both of the first two columns. Those are only counted as single games in the last column. If you would like to check for yourself, his splits are here. The Top 10 yardage defenses he faced are: @ARZ, DAL, @DET, @SF, and the Top 10 pass defenses he faced are: @ARZ, GB, NYJ, @SF.

His totals in the six games versus Top 10 defenses are:

YARDS: 980
TD: 8
INT: 3

Wilson has faced some of the best defenses in the NFL, and is playing at almost the same rate against those defenses (87.1) as he is overall (90.5). The other rookie quarterbacks are well off their ratings when facing these tougher opponents.

Luck’s yards per game against these defenses is amazing. Wilson really makes his statement in efficiency with the highest percentage of touchdowns per attempt and the lowest percentage of interceptions per attempt. Robert Griffin III technically is lowest on the interception rate, but he’s played only one game. Luck has the second-highest interception rate, and look at how dismal Tannehill and Weeden’s touchdown rates are.

Wilson has faced the toughest competition and had the highest rating thus far. Level of competition matters when evaluating teams, and players. Wilson is clearly leading the pack.