NFL Week 16: Grading the rookies

Foles almost led his team to a comeback Sunday. (US Presswire)

Here are the impressive -- and not so impressive -- rookie performances from Week 16.

Nick Foles, Eagles QB: You really have to wonder what the Eagles will do with their quarterback spot next year. With Michael Vick surely on his way out and with (we assume) a new coaching staff and personnel department coming in next year, will new management believe in Foles? The way he’s played so far this season, that’s tough to figure. But he’s done enough to merit consideration at the very least.

For much of Sunday, Foles did not impress. But, down by 14 early in the fourth quarter, Foles (32 of 48, 345 yards, one touchdown, one interception) led a six-play, 61-yard drive to cut the lead to 27-20. Then, the Eagles took over at their 15-yard line with 4:15 to play and eventually brought the ball to the Redskins 5-yard line. At the end, though, Foles couldn’t get it done. He underthrew a wide-open Jeremy Maclin in the end zone, and on what turned out to be the final play of the game, he was called for an illegal forward pass after scrambling and failing to find an open receiver. Although the play ended with 1 second left on the clock, the penalty carries a 10-second run-off, meaning Foles just missed out on his opportunity to be a hero. As for his future with the organization? TBD. Grade: B

Robert Griffin, Redskins QB: Two weeks after he sprained his knee, Griffin returned to his starting quarterback position and played well enough to lead Washington to the win. He looked gimpy running the ball with his significant knee brace -- he rushed just twice for four yards -- but his accuracy was good, completing 16 of 24 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. As usual, Griffin relied on the pass-catching prowess of Pierre Garcon and the rushing of Albert Morris. But if you’re a Redskins fan, it must have been nice to see Griffin back on the field and playing well. Grade: B

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins QB: He wasn’t asked to do very much Sunday. Tannehill threw 25 passes and completed 13 of them for 130 yards and a couple touchdowns. But Reggie Bush had 19 carries, Lamar Miller contributed 10 for 61 yards and Tannehill had 44 yards of his own. The Dolphins scored the win vs. the Bills, but they also were eliminated from playoff contention. So overall, not a great day for Miami. Grade: B-

Andrew Luck, Colts QB: I don’t want to say Luck is having a late-season swoon, because he continues to win as the starting quarterback. And yes, he threw the game-winning touchdown with 4:08 to play to cap off a tougher-than-expected game in Kansas City. But look at his stat line (17 of 35 for 205 yards and a touchdown), and note that he continues to play … well … not as well as he was earlier in the season. He continues to take too many sacks, and his accuracy for much of the time has been way off. But really, it’s tough to complain too much. After all, with Sunday’s win, the Colts have qualified for the playoffs with Luck leading the way. Grade: C

Brandon Weeden, Browns QB: Broncos linebacker Von Miller knocked Weeden out of the game in the third quarter, by sacking him off the edge -- which led to an injured right shoulder for the Browns signal-caller. Colt McCoy took over, and Weeden did not return. But it’s not like Weeden was going to lead this team to some kind of comeback victory anyway. On the day, he was 12 of 19 for 104 yards. Grade: C-

Ryan Lindley, Cardinals QB: With the exception of the Jets, there’s not a worse quarterback situation than in Arizona, and that was proven again Sunday when Lindley was benched after halftime and replaced by Brian Hoyer, who actually played decent enough. the change most likely happened because since he took over the starting job, Lindley (17-30, 141 yards, one pick) has thrown seven interceptions and zero touchdowns. That just about says it all. Grade: D

Two other notable performances:

Janoris Jenkins, Rams CB: Despite all the questions about his character before the season -- not to mention his one-game suspension from the team midway through the season -- Jenkins has been a huge part of St. Louis’ defense. On Sunday, he pick-sixed Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman to help lead the Rams to a win. It was Jenkins’ third interception return of the season and his fourth defensive touchdown overall.

Blair Walsh, Vikings K: As we pointed out in our NFL Record Watch, Walsh hit his ninth field goal from at least 50 yards. This time it was a 56-yarder. Walsh also kicked field goals from 41 and 39 yards.  

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Josh Katzowitz on Twitter here: @joshkatzowitz.

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