The Lofton Files: Passing grades

12/06/2013

The Lofton FilesAt last week’s Sunday Night Football game in our nation’s capital I got a chance to talk with NFLPA CEO DeMaurice Smith. Smith oversaw the last collective bargaining agreement, which hammered out 10 years of labor peace and lots of football on television and national radio.

Winners and losers in these situations are always tough to determine, but in my mind, Smith did as good a job as he could have in a business where the players turn over once ever five years and the owners are owners for life. The vesting period for all the great retirement benefits now extends to first-year players. The average length of an NFL player’s career is right around four seasons, but with guys like Ray Lewis and Jason Hanson playing for a looooong time, it’s important to note that there are many “one and done” guys in the NFL – and not the type of “one and done” that’s good for an elite college basketball player.

Simply put, it’s hard to last in the NFL. This weekend when you watch all those college conference championship games and listen to the announcers gush over how great the players are, just realize it is hard to really make it to – and stick in – the NFL. Playing for a big-time program is no guarantee of NFL success and after a four-year career, it’s long wait until those full benefits kick in at age 55!

As an example, check out the schools and years of service for the New York Giants’ starting offense in last Sunday night’s game: North Carolina 5th, Cornell 8th, Syracuse rookie, Illinois 3rd, Illinois 11th, Iowa 5th, Mississippi 10th, North Carolina State 5th, Kentucky 4th, Massachusetts 4th. Young and/or obscure, that’s what you’ll find on a lot of NFL rosters. Maybe you’re thinking that’s why the Giants are sitting there at 5-7, because they don’t have enough players from the “top 10” programs. But check out the Pro Bowl rosters and you’ll see the same thing. The reality is there are good players to be found playing at every level of college football and a couple of those guys off the hard court aren’t too bad either.

Speaking of school, how about a quick report card on all these young, starting QBs that have been in the league for less than three years.

One note: good QBs know when to get rid of the ball. Young ones that learn quick have a better chance of success. A 10-to-1 attempts-to-sack ratio is about what coaches like to see.

A Students:

Russell Wilson could teach this class, while Cam Newton’s physical size and legs give him a plus.

  • Russell Wilson, 2nd year, Seahawks (305 attempts, 65% completion percentage, 22 TDs, 6 INTs, 30 sacks)
  • Cam Newton, 3rd year, Panthers (366, 62%, 19 TDs, 11 INTs, 31 sacks)
  • Nick Foles, 2nd year, Eagles (190, 63%, 19 TDs, ZERO INTs, 17 sacks)
  • Andrew Luck 2nd year, Colts (418, 58%, 15 TDs, 8 INTs, 29 sacks)

B+:

Who knew?!

  • Mike Glennon, Rookie, Bucs (290, 63%, 13 TDs, 5 INTs, 26 sacks)

B:

  • Colin Kaepernick, 3rd year, 49ers (303, 58%, 15 TDs, 7 INTs, 30 sacks)

B-:

  • Ryan Tannehill, 2nd year, Dolphins (451, 62%, 17 TDs, 13 INTs, 45 sacks)

C+:

  • Andy Dalton, 3rd year, Bengals (433, 61%, 22 TDs, 16 INTs, 26 sacks)

C:

  • Robert Griffin III, 2nd year, Redskins (430, 62%, 17 TDs, 13 INTs, 33 sacks)
  • Case Kennum, Rookie, Texans (190, 54%, 8 TDs, 3 INTs, 14 sacks)
  • EJ Manuel, Rookie, Bills (249, 58%, 9 TDs, 4 INTs, 17 sacks)

C-:

  • Brandon Weeden, 2nd year, Browns (267, 52.8%, 9 TDs, 9 INTs, 27 sacks)
  • Terrelle Pryor, 2nd year, Raiders (224, 59%, 5 TDs, 10 INTs, 29 sacks)
  • Christian Ponder, 3rd year, Vikings (239, 64%, 7 TDs, 9 INTs, 27 sacks)

D:

  • Geno Smith, Rookie, Jets (327, 55%, 8 TDs, 19 INTs, 38 sacks)

So who would you keep after class? Hit me up on Twitter — @Lofton80. Just remember… it’s not PASS/FAIL!

– James Lofton

James Lofton is the analyst for WestwoodOne’s coverage of Sunday Night Football. This week he’ll be in New Orleans as Drew Brees and the Saints host Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers with control of the NFC South on the line. Coverage begins at 8 PM Eastern.

 

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