Five of this afternoon’s 12 NFL games feature rookie quarterbacks, and because we’re all conditioned to pay such close attention to rookie quarterbacks (and because the first afternoon of the NFL season is so much fun), we’re probably all going to overreact to what we see from Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson.
But we shouldn’t overreact.
As a Washington Post story about Griffin’s debut for the Redskins points out, the people who overreact to the start of a quarterback’s rookie season often learn that they were wrong. In 1998, No. 1 overall pick Peyton Manning’s Colts started 0-2 while No. 2 overall pick Ryan Leaf’s Chargers started 2-0, and there were actually people using those two games as some kind of proof that Leaf was the better pick.
There have been Hall of Fame quarterbacks like Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw who stunk up the joint as rookies, and there have been eventual busts like Vince Young and Rick Mirer who got off to good starts as rookies. As tempting as it is, we shouldn’t draw any big conclusions from what we see on the field today.
Of course, every now and then the overreactions are justified. Last year, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw for 422 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score in his rookie debut. If any of the rookie quarterbacks on the field put up those kinds of numbers, commence the overreacting.