You made the choice: Mariota over Winston as Rookie of Year


Marcus Mariota photo courtesy of the Tennessee Titans

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 13: Quarterback Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on December 13, 2015, in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers lost 24-17. (photo by Mike Carlson/Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

(Photos courtesy of the Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Talk of Fame Network

In April, Jameis Winston was the choice over Marcus Mariota. In December, the order has been reversed.

Winston and Mariota went 1-2 in the 2015 NFL draft, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting Winston first overall and the Tennessee Titans taking Mariota. In last week’s Talk of Fame Network poll, we asked our listeners and readers to vote for the NFL Rookie of the Year. Winston and Mariota were two of the six options but the other four candidates didn’t seem to matter to our voters.

Mariota won going away with 44.1 percent of the vote, Winston was next at 27.1 percent, followed by Oakland wide receiver Amari Cooper at 24.8 percent, the Rams running back Todd Gurley at 2.6 percent. Seattle halfback Thomas Rawls and Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters both received less than one percent of the vote.

Talk of Fame Network host Ron Borges disagreed with the vote.

“Winston has done the most at the most demanding position in the game,” Borges said. “So I demand he get the Rookie of the Year award!”

Winston had a rough early go, throwing seven interceptions in his first four games as the Buccaneers struggled to a 1-3 start. But he settled down and has only been picked off five times in the last 10 games. Since then the Buccaneers have gone 5-5 to make a brief run at a wild-card berth. Winston has completed 58.4 percent of his passes for 3,422 yards with 20 touchdowns and a dozen interceptions.

Winston threw for five touchdown passes in a victory over Philadelphia and 363 yards in a loss to St. Louis. He also has rushed for four touchdowns.

Mariota had a spectacular debut, throwing for four first-half touchdowns in a season-opening victory over Tampa Bay in a head-to-head shootout with Winston. He also became the first rookie ever to post a perfect passer rating at 158.3 in his NFL debut. He threw another four TD passes against New Orleans, passing for 371 yards for the Saints. He passed for 367 yards against Indianapolis and had a 112-yard rushing game against Jacksonville.

But Mariota missed two games at mid-season with an ankle injury and his season ended in the 13th week with a knee injury against the Jets. He completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 2,818 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for the 3-11 Titans.

Gurley ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing with 1,023 yards and nine touchdowns and Cooper leads all rookie receivers with 68 catches for 1,040 yards and six touchdowns. Gurley has had five 100-yard rushing games and Cooper four 100-yard receiving games. Talk of Fame Network host Rick Gosselin cast his vote for Gurley.

Rawls filled in briefly for Marshawn Lynch before suffering a season-injury himself in the 14th game against Baltimore. Rawls started just seven games but in one of those starts rushed for 209 yards against San Francisco. He also had 100-yard games against Chicago and Cincinnati and finished his rookie season with five touchdowns. He was an undrafted college free agent. The other five candidates on the ballot were first rounders. Peters ranks second in the NFL with seven interceptions for the 9-5 Chiefs.

It was Peters, in fact, who received the vote of Talk of Fame Network host Clark Judge.

“He hasn’t missed a start, has been consistent and is one of the reasons the Kansas City Chiefs — a team that lost five of its first six — are in the middle of the playoff hunt and still in contention for a division title,” Judge said.

It’s a good slate. All are worthy of the honor. But the public has spoken. It’s Mariota.

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