head-to-head: luck-to-rgiii

this post is based on an actual email chain.


Did you know:


In track, he (rgiii) broke state records for the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles. He ran the 110-meter hurdles in 13.55 seconds, and the 300-meter hurdles in 35.33 seconds. The 300-hurdles time was one-hundredth of a second short of breaking the national high school record. He was also a gold medalist in the 110 and 400-meter hurdles on the AAU track and field circuit. He sprinted 13.46 in the 110-meter hurdles and 49.56 in the 400-meter hurdles as a junior in high school. In 2007, as a junior, he was rated the No. 1 high school 400-meter immediate hurdler in the country, and was tied at No. 1 for the 110-meter sprint hurdler in the nation. Also as a junior, he received the Gatorade Texas Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year award.[7] And he was named to USA Today′s 2007 All-USA Track and Field team.[8] (from wikipedia)


I knew that he was a track guy and that he did very well in it growing up…. But this is absurd.  Something tells me that the other top qb prospect (who is also a tall cracker) doesn’t quite possess the same type of athleticism.   I recommend you watch the combine 40yard dash videos of the two of them…. Its crazy how well RGIII runs.

Fun Fact:  While at Baylor U, Robert Griffin III was protected on the weak side by Top O-Line prospect Robert Griffin, aptly nicknamed RG2


Although at QB, athleticism isn’t the most important factor. If you put the attainment of QB skills in Darwinian terms, slower QB’s develop the ability to survive in the pocket. These QB’s don’t rely on physical attributes (aside from their arm), they develop the ability to more quickly read defenses and are able to release the ball faster while being more accurate passers. They are pragmatic, rather than instinctual such as running QB’s. Based on that, they have the ability to sit and step into passes allowing to throw harder and more accurate (Marino, Manning, Favre). Their focus is more on mechanics and timing allowing them to develop that particular skill and master it.

As for these uber athletic QB’s, Steve Young is the most prolific, with Rodgers and Roethlisberger (had to check that spelling) creating a new blend of QB with the ability to do both. But if you look at Cunningham, Culpepper, McNabb and Vick, all great athletes but none were considered a top-tier QB in their time. Their ability to scramble and create plays on their own takes away from the skill of others on the field. There is no point in having a good running back, when you have a QB you can just take off. Timing and effective running of routs isn’t as crucial because if a play isn’t there, the QB will attempt to create one. There may be a time when an athletic QB may be able to achieve a balance between being a pocket passer and runner, but we haven’t really seen it so far.

As for the choice between Luck and RGIII, I’ll take Luck. Football has taught us that genuine QB’s are the most praised and have more successes (Montana, Elway, Aikman, Bradshaw, Staubach, Brady). They are great at one thing and that greatness exceeds an athletic QB’s overall capabilities. As a division of labour, their ability to master one skill makes others around them better, allowing them to master their skills (Rice, Smith, Harrison, Reed, Sharpe).

There may be a day when this argument is mute (Newton is amazing thus far), but for now I’ll take Brady and Manning in their peaks over Rogers and Vick. However, for fantasy I’ll take the latter.



An interesting take… Let me play Tony Reali here and tell you where I think you might be wrong.

1.          If RGIII is as good a passer as Andrew Luck is, and possesses the exact same football IQ… Then you opt for the player who has the ability to read the play, assess options, and if those options aren’t available, you want a guy that can gain yards as opposed to a guy that will throw it away or tuck and drop to his knees.

2.          Michael Vick was most certainly considered a top-tier QB in his prime, pre dog fighting scandal.

3.         There is in fact a point in having a good running back, even if you have a running QB.  Somebody has to carry the bulk of the load as far as ground game goes, and it better not be the most important player in your franchise.  Injuries are far too likely and consequently disastrous if it’s the QB getting injured.  Ask the Eagles how they feel about Vick running the ball too often.  No QB’s, who have been asked to run the ball routinely as part of an offensive package has seen any great success.  Success in such systems have only happened sparingly with the odd highlight reel play, however, those often result from plays where the defense must respect threat of the opposing QB’s arm.

4.          Who’s Reed?  Baltimore safety Ed Reed?  Buffalo wideout Andre Reed?  (better not be the latter)

5.          I was waiting for you to bring up Cam Newton… He’s probably going to change the mold of the what franchises want out of their QB’s.  He and RGIII might be able to pass, use their heads, be good hard working professionals to the point where people are going to seek out dual threat (blacker) qb’s like them.

6.          You forgot to mention Drew Brees as an athletic QB… just not a track athletic type.

7.          Its Rodgers… hence the A-rodge nickname.



How dare you sully the name of the great Andre Reed. He is only the greatest receiver in Buffalo Bills history and was instrumental in their 4 Super Bowl appearences. His numbers speak for themselves: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andre_Reed#NFL_Hall_of_Fame_candidacy. I put him into the conversation based on his career playing with Jim Kelly, a traditional pocket passer, himself in the hall of fame.

In responding to your rebuttal, I will rebut each point in order:

1.       My argument is based on historical evidence. There is a higher likelihood that Luck’s career turns out better than RGIII; of course, this is based on historical data. If you to tell me RGIII’s player progression is, unlike Vick and more, like Rodgers (my bad) or Brees (he’s athletic, not Steve Young athletic though, god forbid you peg him equal to even Dante Culpepper in his prime) then I would pick him over Luck. However, for that to happen, RGIII must work to become more of a pocket passer and fine tune his ability to being a QB first, runner second. A QB who relies on one aspect of his game (running) will neglect other aspects necessary for development, resulting in a void of skill. When he is no longer able to make those plays on his feet, he would not have the proper development to rely on his passing accuracy, forcing him to either sink or swim; history has shown that they eventually sink (Culpepper, Cunningham, McNabb). There is enough evidence to prove that a gunslinging QB has a higher chance for success throughout the longevity of his career.

2.       Vick was a top-tier QB, but never on the level with Manning or Favre. He was great, but never a good passer. If I’m drafting a QB, he better throw the ball well, which he has proven to be spotty at best.

3.       Running QB’s will always get hurt (Big Ben, Vick, Culpepper). In creating a legit divide whereby your first 5 options are throwing the ball, you position the QB to always throw and allow your skill position players to create. My QB is the leader, the head cheese, if people aren’t running hard to get open, then get rid of them them (Randy Moss in NE). It has also been proven that an elite QB can create talent through his ability to control and throw the ball (i.e. Warner w/ Holt & Bruce, Manning w/ everyone, Brady w/ everyone, Marino w/ a cast of bums). The argument is predicated on whether I want Brady or Vick, I rather unequivocally want Brady. Nothing tells me RGIII will be Brady, but I can be immensely wrong, which for the good of the sport I hope I am.

4.       See first paragraph. During his era, he was a top 5 WR. Rice, Irvin, Carter, Monk, Reed (I’m not sure if I’m missing anyone else).

5.       I agree with you on this point, but to start a franchise, I want Manning, Elway, Brady, Favre, Montana and Marino (my fav QB of all time). Maybe it is the racial stereotype that black QB’s can’t play the pocket and should use their athleticism. It hasn’t been long since Black QB’s became commonplace (mid 80’s), that is also why we see a developmental gap in teaching and training skills necessary to become an effective passer. Newton and RGIII do appear to break that mold. Perhaps another 10 years we’ll see something completely different.

6.       The comparison I’m making is between the running QB’s and pocket QB’s. Brees and Rodgers are more pocket, Young was slightly more the aberration. Elway could also motor down the field.

7.       Again, my bad.

New PointSteve McNair is an interesting case, athletic, but learned to play the pocket. At one point was argued to be the best QB in the league.



I believe it might be you who is doing the stereotyping… Have you looked at RGIII’s stats?

I haven’t, but im about to:

2011 BAY 291 402 72.4 4293 10.7 37 87 6 189.5
2010 BAY 304 454 67.0 3501 7.7 22 94 8 144.2
2009 BAY 45 69 65.2 481 7.0 4 42 0 142.9
2008 BAY 160 267 59.9 2091 7.8 15 61 3 142.0
2011 BAY 179 699 3.9 49 10
2010 BAY 149 635 4.3 71
2009 BAY 27 77 2.9 15 2
2008 BAY 173 846 4.9 63 13

Im afraid somebody should’ve watched more of the combine….

RGIII is built to run fast, but mainly in a straight line.  He doesn’t have the ‘escapability’ or illusiveness that Cam Newton, Michael Vick, and I, possess.  He is able to gain significant running yards, however, most of his runs are straight line runs to the side line.

If you observe his passing stats, they’ve steadily gotten way way better each season… His passing% and his total yard outputs see a steady climb.  Whereas his running attempts increase, his total yards don’t increase per/attempt.

I ask that you watch this guy’s throwing workouts and tell me that he doesn’t sling it as well or better than does Luck



I’ve seen his stats and I was in favour of RGIII winning the Heisman based on his body of work. My argument is not who is better now, but who will be better later based on the environment they are going into. Tim Tebow was the best player in all of College football at one point, doesn’t mean he’s going to be something fierce in the NFL.

RGIII had a better year than Luck, unequivocally. Maybe I don’t know him much as a QB and I should watch some tape. I’m saying that I would draft Luck, he is almost as close as a sure-fire bet as there is. RGIII is still going to make a huge impact, but I’ll pick Luck to have the better career. He’s also a beast at 6-4, 235lbs. His stats over the last two years are impressive as well, playing in a conference that boasts 2 other potential #1’s (Oregon and USC).

2011 STAN 288 404 71.3 3517 8.7 37 62 10 169.7
2010 STAN 263 372 70.7 3338 9.0 32 81 8 170.2
2009 STAN 162 288 56.3 2575 8.9 13 63 4 143.5
2011 STAN 47 150 3.2 17 2
2010 STAN 55 453 8.2 58 3
2009 STAN 61 354 5.8 31 2

At this point, I feel we’re splitting hairs. The argument is no longer whether these two QB’s are good or can be successful, it is about the institutional environment of football, their views of these type of players and what has been the historical progression of these perceived type of players. Any team should be privileged to choose amongst these two players.


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