Spot On: Reminiscing About the Quarterback Class of 2012
Russell S. Baxter
Spot On: Reminiscing About the Quarterback Class of 2012
By Brandon Fazzolari
Special to Pro Football Guru
This week, we’ll get to see some big name quarterbacks that came out of the 2012 NFL Draft including the resurgent Ryan Tannehill, the remarkable Russell Wilson and the reborn Robert Griffin III. Which ones panned out and which ones have been panned? Let’s review!
Luck and RG3
The Indianapolis Colts were without the services of their icon, Peyton Manning for the 2011 season due to injury. As might be expected, they were hideous. The gold at the end of the rainbow proved to be everybody’s projected top draft pick, Andrew Luck. Luck was groomed from infancy to be a NFL quarterback and at Stanford, he was brilliant. He possessed all the skills and intangibles to make it as a pro. Right away, Luck paid dividends with the Colts making the playoffs in his first three seasons. His highlights included a remarkable comeback win over the Chiefs in 2013 and a road upset over Manning and the Broncos in 2014. Unfortunately, Luck was never able to get his Colts past the New England Patriots.
Luck shocked the football world by retiring before the 2019 season began.
Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins traded up to grab Robert Griffin III out of Baylor with the intention of rejuvenating their bland offense. Sure enough, he was simply amazing as a rookie. Sadly, his whirlwind style of play got him injured which hampered his mobility. As a pure pocket passer, Griffin failed. Eventually, the Cleveland Browns obtained Griffin but it was more of the same. He was injured early and often in 2016 and did not play in 2017. He now has the best seat in the house to watch the amazing Lamar Jackson run the Ravens offense.
Cousins and Tannehill
The Redskins rolled the dice by drafting a second quarterback with their fourth round choice. Kirk Cousins wasn’t highly sought after coming out of Michigan State and served as Griffin’s backup for a few years. When given the opportunity, Cousins established himself as a capable NFL performer and led the Redskins to a division title in 2015 behind gaudy passing statistics. However, Washington didn’t commit to him long-term. He hit the free agent market, scoring a huge pay day with Minnesota. He’s had a very good 2019, but will need to step up for the Vikings to have any chance in the rugged NFC.
The third quarterback taken in 2012 was Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill. The Miami Dolphins were inept on offense in 2011. With Tannehill under center, they improved slightly. Indeed, if the Dolphins were in pursuit of mediocrity, they got it in Tannehill. He finally had a productive campaign in 2016 leading Miami to a playoff spot. Near the end of the season, Tannehill tore his ACL. Then, he missed 2017 with the same injury.
During the 2019 offseason, Tennessee knew they needed to add a quality backup QB. Thus, they traded for Tannehill. Ryan got his chance when the inconsistent Marcus Mariota was benched. Tannehill has responded by playing the best football of his professional career. With a win Sunday against Houston, the Titans are in the playoffs.
Super Bowl champions
With their third choice in the 2012 draft, the Seattle Seahawks took Russell Wilson. Wilson has been nothing less than sensational over his eight seasons. In his second season, all he did was lead the Seahawks to their first ever Super Bowl championship. In 2014, the Seahawks made it back to the Super Bowl with an unreal victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game. Wilson’s defining moment occurred in the next game when he was intercepted on the goal line in the Super Bowl. In fact, look for Wilson to someday be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Two other Super Bowl champion quarterbacks were chosen in 2012: Nick Foles and Brock Osweiler. The latter stepped in for Peyton Manning admirably during the Denver Broncos championship season of 2015 and would eventually lock up a big time deal with the Houston Texans. Subsequently, he had such a poor season in Houston that they dropped him after just one year even though they made the playoffs. Eventually, he ended up back in Denver after an ill-fated 2017 preseason stint with the Browns. He has since called it a career.
Nick Foles is an enigma. He replaced the electrifying Michael Vick in 2013 and thrived under Chip Kelly to the tune of a marvelous 27 touchdown, two interception season. He was traded to the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford and his career came to a screeching halt. Foles even pondered retirement as a member of the Rams. During the 2016 offseason, the Rams released Foles and he was eventually signed by the Kansas City Chiefs to be Alex Smith’s backup. After spending one year with Kansas City, Foles came back home to the Eagles as they signed him to a two-year deal to back up Carson Wentz. When Wentz went down with an ACL injury, it appeared doom and gloom was on the horizon for Philly. Foles, though, was absolutely brilliant in both the NFC championship game and the Super Bowl.
In 2018, Foles was called upon once again and smartly led Philly to a playoff run leading to a mammoth contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. After suffering a shoulder injury in week one and missing several weeks, Foles struggled when reinserted. With the emergence of Gardner Minshew, we simply are not sure what’s next for Foles. Yet, even if he never plays another down, his legacy will endure in football lore forever.
The Browns were in full-blown Browns’ mode when they completed a blockbuster 2011 deal with the Atlanta Falcons. They turned the 22nd overall pick of the 2012 draft into Oklahoma State product Brandon Weeden. The Falcons used the sixth pick of the 2011 draft that they had obtained from Cleveland on Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. Enough said.
Brandon Fazzolari (@spot_bills) is a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan and a Vegas sports reporter for Vegas the Network.