As the NFL enters training camp, this seems like a perfect time to spark a debate as to who will win the NFL Rookie of the Year award. To spark my enthusiasm and to get the creative juices flowing, I decided to put out a simple tweet on Twitter saying: "NFL Rookie of the Year: @RGIII, Andrew Luck, or Other?".
Wow...the response really got the wheels turning. One name that was mentioned over and over again by numerous people from around the country was Trent Richardson of the Cleveland Browns. While this is primarily a D.C. sports blog, I reserve the right to write about whatever aspect of sports I want. BUT, keeping in the spirit of this being a D.C. sports blog, let's just say that Trent Richardson and Robert Griffin III are the top two candidates going into the season (which they very well may be).
Trent Richardson has something going for him that rarely do rookie running backs get: instant playing time with an instant chance to make a huge difference. Richardson is stepping into a team that has no clue who the starting quarterback will be. One thing for certain, Richardson will be the starting running back.
The game plan will be centered around Trent Richardson. It will be set around how many carries he gets, how many receptions he gets, and how many yards per game he gets. Richardson is going to get his touches and he is going to get his yards. He's going to be the stabilizer that keeps the offense from falling apart. He is going to be heavily relied on and that puts him at an advantage compared to the rest of the NFL.
The same thing can be said for Robert Griffin III. He has already been declared the starting quarterback and head coach Mike Shannahan is a quarterback guru. If the Redskins are smart, they will tailor the offense to fit Robert Griffin III's strengths by utilizing his legs and his ability to make something happen outside the pocket.
Robert Griffin III will be able to make an instant impact the way that Trent Richardson will be able to. Griffin III will get his touches (duh...he's the quarterback) and will always have a direct impact on the outcome of every game.
So how do you decide? Well, let me throw a few speculations at you...
I mentioned that Trent Richardson is going to be the focal point of the Browns offense. Honestly, he could be the Browns only source of offensive production. Quarterback Brandon Weeden has the ability to be a starting quarterback, but nobody is for certain as to whether Weeden or Colt McCoy will get the nod.
For Robert Griffin III, he will not be the Redskins only source of offense. Roy Helu Jr, Tim Hightower, and Evan Roster have established the Redskins running game. With the projected offensive line that the Redskins will have, they could rely on the running game more than people think.
Another thing that will be working against Robert Griffin III will be the memory of Cam Newtons rookie season. While it is totally out of line and unfair to compare the two totally different quarterbacks, it's going to happen whether it should or not. Unless Griffin III throws for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns as well as rushes for close to 1,000 yards and 7+ touchdowns, Newton will have set the bar too high with his incredible season last year.
Bottom line people: the Redskins have a more complete offense than the Browns and that sets Robert Griffin III at a disadvantage.
Heading into the season, Trent Richardson should be at the top of the NFL Rookie of the Year watch list. While a lot can change throughout the season, Richardson is going to have a huge impact on the success of the Cleveland Browns. Unlike the Redskins, the Browns live and die by their top draft pick. Even if Robert Griffin III has an off day, the Redskins can still back him up with their explosive running game. If Richardson fails, the entire Browns offense will collapse around him.
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