Robert Griffin III may have been selected No. 2 in the 2012 NFL Draft, but after an impressive rookie season, he has been announced as the winner of the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Griffin led the Redskins to a 10-6 record and their first NFC East title since 1999. To top it off, he did it all in record-setting fashion. Griffin set NFL rookie records for passer rating and rushing yards while also being voted to the Pro Bowl. Even more impressive, he became possibly the hardest player in the league to defend just weeks into his career. Despite game-planning to stop Griffin and the Redskins' read-option attack, defenses still had problems slowing down Washington's offense.
A year after they ranked near the bottom of the league in several offensive categories, the Redskins were one of the top offenses in the NFL after Griffin's arrival. They jumped from 26th in the league in points per game last year to fourth in the NFL this year. Washington increased its yards per game nearly 50 yards while also becoming the top rushing team in the league. With Griffin leading the read-option attack and rushing for an NFL rookie record 815 yards, Washington led the NFL by averaging 169.3 rushing yards per game.
By the end of the regular season, Griffin not only ranked among the best rookie quarterbacks, but among the best quarterbacks in the NFL. His 102.4 passer rating was a rookie record and the third-highest in the NFL, trailing only Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. Griffin gave defensive coordinators nightmares with his legs, but was just as apt as making big plays with his arm. He led all qualified quarterbacks by averaging 8.14 yards per attempt.
In addition to making big plays with his arm and legs, Griffin also limited negative plays. He threw just five interceptions on the season, the fewest of any quarterback with at least 250 pass attempts. His 1.3 interception percentage was tied with New England's Tom Brady for the lowest in the NFL.
Among rookie quarterbacks, Griffin finished first in passer rating, fourth in passing yards, third in touchdown passes and first in completion percentage. His 27 combined touchdowns were second among rookies, trailing only Seattle's Russell Wilson. Griffin's 815 rushing yards were not only an NFL rookie quarterback record, but the fourth most among any rookie this season. Griffin finished 20th in the NFL in rushing and his 6.8 yards per attempt were the highest of any qualified player.
Despite missing a game and dealing with an injury late in the season, Griffin was consistently great throughout the season. In 15 games, Griffin posted a passer rating under 80 just three times. In comparison, his passer rating topped 100.0 eight times. That included Week 11 when Griffin posted a perfect 158.3 passer rating against the Eagles. He completed 14-of-15 passes against Philadelphia while throwing four touchdown passes. He also ran for 84 yards against the Eagles.
Even though Griffin may have produced his highest rating against Philadelphia, his best game of the season may have come in the season opener against New Orleans. Washington went on the road to face the Saints as 8.5-point underdogs, but Griffin led Washington to a 40-32 upset victory. Griffin did it all against the Saints, completing 19-of-26 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 42 rushing yards. He finished the game with a 12.31 yards per attempt average and a 139.9 passer rating.
While Griffin played well throughout the season, he was at his best late in the year as the Redskins surged into the postseason. After starting the season 3-6, Griffin and the Redskins won their final seven games to clinch the NFC East. He started six of those seven games and posted a passer rating above 100.0 in five of them. Griffin threw 12 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions over the final six games while also rushing for a score.
Griffin was clearly limited by a knee injury late in the season, but returned to start the final two games, both Redskins wins. His play this season earned him plenty of accolades -- including seven Rookie of the Week honors -- but it also earned him praise from opponents, including New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck. Tuck said he's going to have nightmares about Griffin and isn't exactly happy to be in the same division.
"I'm pretty mad at the football gods for putting him in the NFC East," Tuck said, according to the Sporting News. "If he stays healthy, he's going to play havoc on defenses for a long time."
On top of being voted to the Pro Bowl, Griffin was also named the Pro Football Writers Association Rookie of the Year. He is one of five finalists for the award and is joined by Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, Seattle's Wilson, Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin and Washington running back Alfred Morris. Now the addition of the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Griffin's rookie season will go down as one of the best in league history.