Eagles and Cowboys fans can attest that sometimes a rookie quarterback can work out just fine. North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz has Philadelphia at 3-1 with seven touchdown passes and a 103.5 QB rating in four games. Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott has thrown for over 12-hundred yards for Dallas with four touchdowns and a 101.5 QB rating, while his team is off to a 4-1 start.
These two may very well end up with some of the best numbers and success of any first year NFL quarterback. But who has had the best rookie season? Glad you asked. Here’s my opinion:
5.) Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins, 1983
Hall of Famer Marino started the final nine games of the 1983 season, leading the Dolphins to a 7-2 mark. He threw for 2,210 with 20 touchdowns and a QB rating of 96. The Dolphins won the AFC East with Marino at the helm, but lost to Seattle in the Divisional Playoffs. In that 27-20 loss, Marino was 15-25 for 195 yards with two touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season.
4.) Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, 2012
As a third round draft selection, Wilson made quite an impact on Seattle and the NFL. The Seahawks went 11-5 that season and made it to the Wild Card game where they beat the Redskins. The following week, Wilson’s and the Seahawks’ season came to an end at the hands of the Falcons at the Georgia Dome. In his rookie campaign, Wilson threw for 3,118 yards with 26 touchdowns and had 64.1% completion rate. He also rushed for 489 yards with four touchdowns.
3.) Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, 2008
The year before Matt Ryan arrived, the Falcons were 4-12 under the Joey Harrington-Chris Redman-Byron Leftwich combo and were just coming out of the Bobby Petrino mess. Ryan led the Falcons to a monstrous turnaround. They went 11-5 under first year coach Mike Smith, good enough for second place in the NFC South. They lost to the Cardinals in the Wild Card round. Ryan completed 61.15% of his passes that year (265-434) for 3440 yards and 16 touchdowns. His QB rating in 2008 was 87.7.
2.) Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins 2012
RG-3 came out of Baylor as the Heisman Trophy winner and the number two pick in the draft. He was the answer to all Redskins fans prayers. He led the ‘Skins to a 10-6 mark. A dramatic win over Dallas in the final game of the regular season gave Washington its first playoff appearance since 2007. Even though the Redskins did not make it past the Wild Card round, RG-3’s number were eye-popping. He was 258-393 passing with a 65.6% completion rate, 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Injuries have certainly set him back since that memorable rookie campaign.
1.) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, 2004
Big Ben was pulled into duty in week two of the season when starting quarterback Tommy Maddox was injured. Roethlisberger, the 11th overall pick out of Miami of Ohio, went 13-0 as a starter that season. He led the 15-1 Steelers all the way to the AFC Title game where they lost to Tom Brady and the Patriots. His rookie stats were as good as any: 66.4% completion rate (196-295) for 2,621 yards and 17 TDs. He also had 144 yards rushing on 56 carries.