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“I don’t know what other teams thought or what other teams’ evaluations were,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said. “But we felt very strongly when we did draft Christian. And he’s shown signs of [being worth] that. We’ll see how all this unfolds as we go forward.”
None of the four quarterbacks taken in the first round in 2011 is free from criticism. Ironically, Ponder is the only one to have helped his team to a playoff berth.
Ponder, 12-17 with a 59.2 completion percentage and a 75.8 passer rating, helped the Vikings reach 10 wins and a wild-card playoff berth a year ago. But the Vikings’ actions this week speak for themselves about the team’s frustration level with Ponder’s inconsistency.
Gabbert, 5-22 with a 53.3 completion percentage and a 66.4 passer rating, will miss his third game of the season because of injury when the Jaguars face the Broncos on Sunday. Gabbert is completing 49 percent of his passes with a touchdown and seven picks for the winless Jaguars.
Locker, 7-8 with a 57.0 completion percentage and an 83.0 passer rating, sat as a rookie, went 4-7 in 2012 and was completing 62 percent of his passes with six touchdowns, no interceptions and a 3-1 record when he suffered a hip injury this season.
Then there’s Newton, whose record-breaking individual numbers have not equated to team success. The physically gifted 6-5, 248-pounder enters Sunday’s game as the only player in NFL history with at least 8,000 yards passing (8,805), 40 passing touchdowns (46), 1,000 rushing yards (1,570) and 20 rushing touchdowns (23). But his record as a starter is 14-21.
Is Cam The Man?
For all the excitement Newton generates, Carolina fans still aren’t sold that he is their quarterback of the future. This has been a particularly rough week with Newton coming off a 22-6 loss to Arizona in a game that saw him turn the ball over four times and get sacked seven times while posting a 47.8 passer rating.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera defends Newton, saying he is progressing at a rate that’s commensurate with having been a read-option college quarterback. He also mentions Newton’s numerous NFL records, including the first 4,000-yard passing season for a rookie and the highest two-year passing total (7,920).
“It’s not like Cam hasn’t had success,” Rivera said. “For whatever reason, nobody wants to talk about it, but [his first two years were] better than the first two years that any quarterback has had.”
It doesn’t help Newton that the teams that took quarterbacks in the second round have fared much better. Dalton is 22-15 in the regular season and has led the Bengals to consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in a non-strike season. Kaepernick took Alex Smith’s job a year ago, got super hot and led the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
“I haven’t been [to the playoffs], so obviously it’s irking me that the Panthers haven’t been there,” Newton said. “But when I see those other guys, I don’t hate on them off the mere fact that they [made it to the playoffs]. It just makes me want to work harder and push a little bit more to get my team there.”
Newton was asked what he would do if the Panthers signed another first-round pick the way the Vikings did.
“I don’t know, man,” he said. “It hasn’t happened and I haven’t been put in that situation, and hopefully I don’t.”
It also doesn’t help the quarterback class of 2011 that the quarterback class of 2012 was an instant success. Andrew Luck, the No. 1 overall pick, broke Newton’s rookie passing record while also leading the Colts from a 2-14 season to an 11-5 mark and a stunning playoff berth. Robert Griffin III, the second overall pick, executed the read-option expertly while leading the Redskins from 5-11 to 10-6 and a division title. And Russell Wilson, a third-round pick, led Seattle from 7-9 to 11-5 and a playoff berth.
“There is a lot of pressure on quarterbacks to win right away,” Ponder said. “But you see the quarterbacks that come in and do it. So it’s doable, it’s possible.
“The NFL is a business. And the business is winning. If you’re not winning, like any other business, it’s time to figure something else out. I understand that.”
Unfortunately for Ponder, he had that reinforced the hard way this week.
|Minnesota||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Buffalo||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Miami||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Detroit||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Oakland||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Atlanta||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Tennessee||12/8/13 3:05 PM|
|St. Louis||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|Seattle||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|NY Giants||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|Carolina||12/8/13 7:30 PM|
|Dallas||12/9/13 7:40 PM|
|San Diego||12/12/13 7:25 PM|
|Toronto||77||4th Qtr 8:44|
|LA Lakers||50||2nd Qtr 0:41|
|Utah||52||2nd Qtr 0:52|
|Colorado||3||3rd Prd 16:22|
|Phoenix||0||2nd Prd 19:20|
|Sam Houston St||77|
|Open Bible College||0||Postponed|
|Fairfield||79||2nd Half 0:02|
|South Carolina||30||2nd Half 12:05|
|Towson||58||2nd Half 9:30|
|Stephen F Austin||51|
|UC Santa Barbara||27|
|Bowling Green||40||4th Qtr 10:17|
|(16) Northern Ill||20|
|(15) UCF||12/7/13 11:00 AM|
|(18) Oklahoma||12/7/13 11:00 AM|
|(6) Oklahoma State|
|Marshall||12/7/13 11:00 AM|
|Memphis||12/7/13 12:00 PM|
|(23) Texas||12/7/13 2:30 PM|
|(5) Missouri||12/7/13 3:00 PM|
|So Florida||12/7/13 6:30 PM|
|(7) Stanford||12/7/13 6:45 PM|
|(11) Arizona State|
|(20) Duke||12/7/13 7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|Louisiana||12/7/13 7:00 PM|
|(2) Ohio State||12/7/13 7:17 PM|
|(10) Michigan State|
|Utah State||12/7/13 9:00 PM|
|(24) Fresno State|
|No Dakota State||63||FINAL|
|Idaho||39||2nd Half 10:53|
|Pepperdine||42||2nd Half 17:45|
|Oregon State||33||2nd Half 18:15|
|Aug 9 - vs. Houston||7 pm||X||27-13|
|Aug 16 - at Buffalo||6 pm||X||20-16|
|Aug 25 - at San Francisco||7 pm||X||34-14|
|Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee||7 pm||X||24-23|
|2013 regular season|
|Sep 8 - at Detroit||Noon||X||34-24|
|Sep 15 - at Chicago||Noon||X||31-30|
|Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland||Noon||X||31-27|
|Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London)||Noon||X||34-27|
|Oct 6 - Bye|
|Oct 13 - vs. Carolina||Noon||X||35-10|
|Oct 21 - at. NY Giants||7:40 pm||X||23-7|
|Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay||7:30 pm||X||44-31|
|Nov 3 - at Dallas||Noon||X||27-23|
|Nov 7 - vs. Washington||7:25 pm||X||34-27|
|Nov 17 - at Seattle||3:25 pm||X||41-20|
|Nov. 24 - at Green Bay||Noon||26-26|
|Dec 1 - vs. Chicago||Noon||X||23-20|
|Dec 8 - at Baltimore||Noon|
|Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia||Noon|
|Dec 22 - at Cincinnati||Noon|
|Dec 29 - vs. Detroit||Noon|