Written by Josh Farnzy
Images by Hubba Kimbrel
The Rookie Index – 2.0
Five games hardly makes the Class of 16 rookies any type of veteran…not yet. Still, more and more broadcasters are calling rookie names for big plays in key spots. As progressions are banked, the rooks are coming. Slowly. Steadily. Confidently. OK, enough adverbs. Plenty of plays are being made and names becoming household as the season approaches its midway point. Here are the Top four rookie storylines…
1. What Brown can do for St. Lou(is)
The Gladiator quarterback is not overwhelming the stat books. Which is interesting, considering Brown was a prolific yard-chomper while slinging the rock around with the Birmingham Fuel. The volume passing game has been refined to showcase his ‘clutchness’. The second half against Vancouver was clutchness – Exhibit A – as he connected on two late back-breaking throws in small windows to lead St. Louis to a big win. Clutchness – Exhibit B – not the most difficult of throws, but a third down throw after being patient in the pocket to find fellow rookie Guy Clawson for the first down that iced the game. He makes the big throw. Period. St. Louis is 5-0 in large part thanks to his ‘clutchness’.
2. DRPOY is a King
No, Dr. Poy isn’t some medical professional – nor a knockoff of a popular soda (although given enough cherry in that beverage, I would absolutely drink a Dr. Poy). It is my Defensive Rookie Performance of the Year. And, despite a number of strong contenders, I have to give it to Jacksonville linebacker, Jay Mart, for his Week 5 performance in 27-20 win over Atlanta. When the dust settled, Mart’s performance read: 12 tackles, 2 TFLs and a 40-yard pick-six that turned the tide of the game with under six minutes left in the fourth quarter. It was the difference. Jacksonville currently employs two rookie linebackers (first round selection Keenan Samuels is no slouch either), who have made an impact early. Mr. Mart, however, you are the current leader in the DRPOY clubhouse. Enjoy the soft drinks that come with it.
3. The right route
It’s hard for a dragon to fly under the radar. Still, one former Annapolis Navigator is quietly making a mark for himself. Josh Gill currently has 31 catches (first among rookie wide receivers and 17th for WRs in the entire league) and is tied with three other rookies – including DC teammate Kae Marion – for the rookie lead with 3 receiving touchdowns. Granted, accolades only travel so far when your team is 0-5, but this wideout is gaining traction immediately as a pro. His secret? From what I can tell, he is a tactician and a precise route runner. His quick cuts have been giving enough of a cushion to grab the ball and get the necessary tough yards. Fly, under-the-radar-dragon, fly.
4. Tritz and copyright infringement
After my Rookie Index 1.0 article, where I called Mexico City DT Dan Tritz “Tritz the Blitz” (and subsequently tried to copyright that nickname), I was informed that nickname was already bestowed upon him when he was in the minors. I never saw a letter from an attorney or patent office, but I will choose to believe it. Still, five games in now, Mr. Tritz is up to 9 sacks, which leads the entire SFL by a sack and a half, and tied for second with 12 tackles for loss. If any rookie currently looks like an all-star, it’s Dan. With his dominant start – and my wallet – in mind, here are a few other nicknames to consider printing t-shirts for…Dan the DT Man. Tritz, the Giver of Offensive Fits. The Aztec Hammer. Glitzy Tritzy (doesn’t seem to be a diva, but work with me here, Dan). I’ll keep workshopping these. Keep up the good work, Dan.
Editor’s Note: The SFL Content Team does not, in any way take, responsibility for the offense called by Farnzy’s terrible nicknames. They were his own creation and we can only apologise to Dan Tritz for any hurt caused. Thank you.
One last thing – the lone rookie kicker in this year’s class, Jack Lewis, has not had many opportunities compared to some other placekickers thus far. That said, Lewis has been a perfect 7-for-7 to start his SFL career. Combine those numbers with his 15 of 15 status as a member of the San Jose Flight and you have one of the most consistent legs in the business. Keep London out of field goal range, defenses.
See you next time.