Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ponder Rises...to Mediocre

Five calls into the Vikings' flagship station's post-game call-in show, Minnesota Vikings' PBP announcer, Paul Allen, called into the station to give his two bits.  Sounding like someone who had already had another, Allen offered a rant all but demanding that all those who have been down on Vikings' quarterback Christian Ponder now sing the quarterback's praises.  Leaving aside matters of professionalism and PA's own recent criticism of Ponder (including his curious decision to ask Ponder whether he would have benched himself), the request offers a singular misunderstanding about Ponder's performance--on Sunday and to date.

On Sunday, Ponder did what he had done in several games earlier this season.  On Sunday, Ponder was neither spectacular nor awful.  He was, instead, the definition of a caretaker quarterback.  He (under) threw one deep pass, but otherwise opted for the short pass and gave Adrian Peterson the ball.

Ponder's performance put him right in the middle of starting quarterback numbers in week eleven, with his numbers greatly assisted by injuries to at least four other starters and poor weather in at least three venues.

On Sunday, Ponder had his health, perfect weather conditions inside the dome, a new receiver, and running back the likes of which no other team in the league even remotely offers on their roster.  And, yes, the Vikings were playing a Detroit team that was without its two starting safeties.

With Peterson in the backfield, Detroit stacked the box with eight or nine players.  For most quarterbacks facing a depleted secondary, that would mean a field day--even more so when stacking the box failed to curtail the running game.  For Ponder, it meant passable numbers.  But passable numbers do not equate to a passable performance.

What would have been a passable performance for Ponder on Sunday?  For starters, a better than 25% touchdown rate inside the red zone.  From there, more than a tip of the cap to mid-range and longer passing options.

Unfortunately, after several weeks of setting the bar ever lower, Ponder's 221 yards and two touchdowns look like the stuff of legends.  When this is where, by the Vikings' own predictions, Ponder was supposed to have been coming out of college and, by more reasonable assessments, the point from which Ponder should have been building from the beginning of the year to a much higher point today, there should be little taken from Sunday's game regarding Ponder's play other than that he did not put the final nail in his coffin.

That's not the stuff of legends, nor is it grounds for any request for a mea culpa from Ponder's critics.

Up Next:  Dayton Calls Out Vikings.


KevinWI said...

Apparently you didn't watch the replay. Ponder hit Wright perfectly. Wright said he could have scored, but it was more important for him to square up and make sure he caught the ball...if you look, Wright didn't slow down at all, he just turned awkwardly and was facing the QB when he made the catch making him fall backwards.
That said, you need to look a little harder at what Ponder has to work with and then praise him for being as accurate as he was, not to mention there were 3 balls that were clear drops put on the money.

KevinWI said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vikes geek said...


I watched both the actual play and the replay (readily available online). Ponder underthrew the pass. That fact notwithstanding, neither the article nor the analysis is dependent on Ponder having underthrown the pass--that merely adds a small additional piece to the bigger picture.

By "what Ponder has to work with" do you mean Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, and Kyle Rudolph, or only those outside the box--the ones that Ponder virtually ignores? Let me know and then we can break it down.