The 2012-13 NFL season was a good one for young quarterbacks in general. The league saw 4 teams with first time QBs lead their respective teams to the playoffs — 3 of which were rookies in Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, and Andrew Luck (Colin Kaepernick was a 2nd year player). Even more specifically speaking, this was a great year for the athletic, dual threat quarterback who can hurt your through the air and on the ground. All four of the aforementioned quarterbacks, including Luck who doesn’t have as big a reputation as a runner, were able to find success by keeping defenses guessing with their rushing ability.
So while all four of these players had varying levels of success this season, I am going to be looking at Kaepernick vs. Griffin for the purpose of the article. Colin Kaepernick went on to lead his team to the Super Bowl, eventually losing to the Ravens last night. Robert Griffin busted out of the playoffs in round one, leaving with a busted up knee, but went on to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. The two were often compared to each other toward the end of the regular season, as they are both accurate passers and can change the game on a dime with their running ability. The 49ers were also employing the read option offense that Washington had been running all year to take advantage of Kaepernick’s abilities.
You can not just lay out their numbers side by side to get a fair comparison. Robert Griffin III started 15 regular season games for Washington, while Kaepernick started 7 for San Francisco. Kaepernick took over for a concussed Alex Smith during the Rams game on 9/11/12, so for all intents and purposes he saw significant action in 8 games this year. I am throwing out the playoff numbers and going to try and show their numbers based on regular season play. Since Kaep played 8 games and Griffin played 15, we will be basing these numbers off of doubling Kaepernick’s regular season stats (throwing out the 2 games he made quick appearances) and then taking Griffin’s stats and adding in the averages for 1 more game to bring both totals to 16. I am sure there may be an easier or better way of doing this, but for the purpose of this article, this is how it goes. If you want to look at their full season stats, go to ESPN StatsLab.
Numbers adjusted based on 16 games:
QB Rating (not adjusted):
Griffin III: 102.4
Griffin III: 3,413.3
Griffin III: 21.3
Griffin III: 5.3
Kaepernick: 262/418 = 62.7%
Griffin III: 275.2/419.2 = 65.6%
Griffin III: 869.3
Griffin III: 7.4
So as you can tell, the comparisons are very much warranted. Both players have some real similarities when looking at the numbers. It would be great to get a full season of both quarterback’s starting so you can look at the numbers line by line. Obviously there are some factors that can not be accounted for such as Griffin having essentially a full season to learn on the job among many others (such as Kaepernick running for 181 yards in the divisional game), but this is the best I could come up with for now.
Griffin edges out Kaepernick slightly in most categories except the passing yards category (and don’t forget playoff victories). The numbers are pretty similar, and you can count on Kaepernick possibly raising his based on a full season of experience. Rounding the numbers off, Griffin throws 1 more touchdown, one less interception, completes 2.9% more of his passes, rushes for 261 more yards and 1 touchdown more than Kaepernick. Again, I would expect to see Kaep’s rushing numbers come up a bit more in a full season if they continue to run the same offense, and possibly see Griffin’s drop with less rushing attempts in an attempt to maintain health.
Either way, these team’s futures are extremely bright behind their multi-talented quarterbacks. As a Redskins fan, I will forever support Robert Griffin III and be overjoyed that he is my quarterback. And I am sure all 49ers fans will be saying the exact same thing about Colin Kaepernick.