Comparing Geno Smith's Rookie Season To Other Rookie Quarterbacks

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Later in the offseason, I will have a complete breakdown of Geno Smith's rookie year as the second part of our Human Genome Project breakdown. In the meantime, I wanted to look at how Smith fared his rookie year, compared to other rookie quarterbacks in the past fifteen years that started fifteen or more games their rookie years. I listed their stats, and wanted to find some common denominator, some thread that would give us an inkling of how a quarterback will perform in the future. Obviously, this is impossible. It's really difficult to project a quarterback's future in such a simplistic manner, but I wanted to try anyway. Here's what I found:

Passing Rushing
Name Year CMP ATT CMP% YDS TD INT Y/A RATING SK ATT YDS TD Y/A
Robert Griffin III 2012 258 393 65.6% 3200 20 5 8.1 102.4 30 120 815 7 6.8
Matt Ryan 2008 265 434 61.1% 3440 16 11 7.9 87.7 17 55 104 1 1.9
Russell Wilson 2012 252 393 64.1% 3118 26 10 7.9 100.0 33 94 489 4 5.2
Cam Newton 2011 310 517 60.0% 4051 21 17 7.8 84.5 35 126 706 14 5.6
Andrew Luck 2012 339 627 54.1% 4374 23 18 7.0 76.5 41 62 255 5 4.1
Joe Flacco 2008 257 428 60.0% 2971 14 12 6.9 80.3 32 52 180 2 3.5
Geno Smith 2013 247 443 55.8% 3046 12 21 6.9 66.5 43 72 366 6 5.2
Ryan Tannehill 2012 282 484 58.3% 3294 12 13 6.8 76.1 35 49 211 2 4.3
Mark Sanchez 2009 196 364 53.8% 2444 12 20 6.7 63.0 26 36 106 3 2.9
Andy Dalton 2011 300 516 58.1% 3398 20 13 6.6 80.4 24 37 152 1 4.1
Brandon Weeden 2012 297 517 57.4% 3385 14 17 6.5 72.6 28 27 111 0 4.1
Peyton Manning 1998 326 575 56.7% 3739 26 28 6.5 71.2 22 15 62 0 4.1
Sam Bradford 2010 354 590 60.0% 3512 18 15 6.0 76.5 34 27 63 1 2.3
David Carr 2002 233 444 52.5% 2592 9 15 5.8 62.8 76 59 282 3 4.8
Chris Weinke 2001 293 540 54.3% 2931 11 19 5.4 62.0 26 37 128 6 3.5
Kyle Orton 2005 190 368 51.6% 1869 9 13 5.1 59.7 30 24 44 0 1.8

The common thread that I sorted the table by are the yards/attempt. It seems that 7.0 is the (rough) cutoff for the really good quarterbacks. The main exception is Peyton Manning, of course. Smith, as you can see, is just below that number, at 6.9. Of course, that doesn't help us. If he was clearly above 7.0, it'd be easy to feel good about him. If it was clearly below, I'd be nervous. As it stands, Smith is around the threshold, so we don't know much more than before.

As I was compiling the data, a few things stood out to me. The first is that Smith is 6-0 when he rushes for a touchdown. When he runs, the team wins. The second is that his three game stretch against the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, and the Miami Dolphins really killed his numbers. Smith barely completed any passes, and heck, didn't really attempt that many, which had a large impact on his other statistics.

The final thing I noticed was that a quarterback like Russell Wilson started the year off rough, and got much better as the year went on. I think the same can be said of Smith. Smith started off doing fairly well, hit that awful rough patch as teams adjusted to him, and then re-adjusted for the end of the season when he started to play really well, and most importantly, turnover-free. Notably, his poor streak came when Jeremy Kerley was out with his elbow injury. Similar to other good quarterbacks, I'm encouraged that Smith was able to recover and get better as the season went on.

As the offseason progresses, we'll have more detailed analysis on Smith, but for now, know that he's in good company with a bare statistical analysis.

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