The Way It Is: Andrew Luck is the Rookie of the Year

One of the biggest story lines of this season has been the play of three rookie quarterbacks, all of whom have provided big upgrades for their teams and are battling for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. The winner, in my mind is clear, and it goes far beyond statistics as Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck has done more for his team than the other either Seattle's Russell Wilson or Washington's Robert Griffin III.

If you look at raw statistics, Luck is a distant third behind Griffin III—aka RGIII— and Wilson, but once those statistics are put in proper context, it evens it out. Luck's quarterback rating is over 25 points lower than both the other quarterbacks as he's thrown far more interceptions, but Luck also has far less help.

The Seahawks won four more games than they did a year ago and are headed to the playoffs, Wilson deserves a lot of credit for that, but he's had far more help than the other two.

WIlson has a pretty cushy job, all he has to do is not make mistakes. He's improved as the season progressed, even making his fair share of plays, but he has a lot to work with. Seattle has a very good offensive line, a solid group of receivers, a great, power running game that ranks second in the league and the best scoring defense in the league. It is easy to quarterback a team with so much help.

While Seattle has scored six more points per game, a lot of that credit has to go to the improved health of receiver Sidney Rice and the development of receiver Golden Tate and tight end Zach Miller. Their defense is also allowing four less points per game.

RGIII has turned the Redskins offense from dormant to explosive, but he's also had a lot of help. In addition to adding RGIII, the Redskins added Pierre Garcon and have seen Leonard Hankerson develop into a good receiver in his second season, joining Santana Moss. They also added running back Alfred Morris who has a strong case for Rookie of the Year himself with over 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging nearly five yards per carry as the Redskins lead the league in rushing.

RGII isn't the only rookie quarterback to have success with Washington, in the one game he missed, Kirk Cousins threw a pair of touchdowns as they scored 38 points against a decent Cleveland Browns defense. While Cousins success isn't a knock on RGIII, it is proof that he has been put in a position to succeed.

Then, there is Andrew Luck, who has led his team to eight more wins than they had a year ago, while averaging seven more points per game. Luck had the easiest player to replace at his position, but they also lost Garcon, Dallas Clark, Austin Collie and starting running back Donald Brown has been banged up for much of this season. He has the worst defense out of the group and the least help offensively.

The Colts have a bad offensive line and the 22nd ranked running game. While the other two quarterbacks contribute more to their running game, Luck has more rushing touchdowns than either of them and has accounted for 16 percent of their rushing yards, compared to 18 percent for WIlson and 31 percent for RGIII.

The worst situation to put a quarterback in is third-and-long, Luck has thrown 93 such passes in those situations over 30 more than the other two. He also has been great in the clutch with five game-winning drives this season, almost as many as Aaron Rodgers has in his career.

The most important thing Luck has brought to his team is leadership. While RGIII has a two-time Super Bowl winning coach and Wilson has a coach who has been around for quite a while and won National Championships in college, Luck's coach, Chuck Pagano, missed most of this season after begin diagnosed with cancer.

The motto for the Colts team was "Chuckstrong", in honor of their coach, but the motivation of playing for him wasn't enough, they needed leadership and Luck provided that, becoming the first player to ever be selected with the first pick and lead his team to the playoffs.

While the raw statistics support the other two quarterbacks, I don't think there's much doubt that Luck has had the greatest impact and has meant the most to his team, which is why he should be named the Rookie of the Year.

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