The Vikings Should Have Seen Enough of Christian Ponder as their Starting Quarterback
The Minnesota Vikings lost to Green Bay today 23-14. Adrian Peterson tried to defeat the Packers by himself, rushing for over 200 yards, including an 82 yard touchdown run that actually gave the Vikings the lead at halftime. Yes, it appeared we'd have a good game between the heated rivals. That was until Christian Ponder took the field in the second half.
The Vikings got a turnover deep in Packer's territory and looked to be ready to add to that 14-10 lead to start the second half. Then Christian Ponder rolled to his right and did what we've seen him do time and time again, throw across his body and have that pass picked off. There is your game. Ponder should know by now to throw that ball out of bounds. He should have seen that he had nobody open. But instead he gave crucial momentum back to Green Bay. That was bad, but Christian wasn't done.
After another big run by Peterson later in the second half, Christian Ponder ignored the Vikings wide receivers and threw late to TE Kyle Rudolph and was picked off for a second time. Picked off by a defense plagued with injuries and a defense that is far from championship caliber. The Packers had just been destroyed the the New York Giants.
Throughout the game, television commentator Troy Aikman was hard on Ponder. He observed how quick he is to get out of the pocket and how he is missing plays to his wide receivers. Later in the game, Aikman seemed to take it easy on Ponder and instead was critical of the Vikings wide receivers and said something along the lines of even if the Vikings had Joe Montana as their quarterback there was nobody open to throw to. I don't agree. After watching Christian Ponder for long enough, I would say that even if we had Jerry Rice and Randy Moss in their prime on the team, Ponder would still not be the quarterback we need to win.
When the game was on the line, Ponder had 36 total yards passing and it took him 5 completions to get there. He managed to get over 100 yards passing for the game, but most of that was in junk time when there was very little chance of a Viking's victory and the Packers were more than happy to let the Viking's dink and dunk.
A championship quarterback makes players around him better, learns from his mistakes, and shows fire and leadership on the field. When have we seen that from Christian Ponder? Ponder misses the receivers who do get open, floats passes, and panics under pressure. He looks more overwhelmed than confident. He seems like a nice enough guy, but he just doesn't look like a leader for this team and I think head coach Leslie Frazier is in jeopardy of losing the locker room. If you're Adrian Peterson, how long do you want to stay on a team that wastes your efforts? If the Vikings players aren't turning on Ponder yet, it's only a matter of time. It's time for the Vikings to turn the page on Christian Ponder as a starting quarterback.
This year alone several rookie quarterbacks have outplayed Ponder. Wouldn't you rather have Andrew Luck, RGIII, Ryan Tannehill or Russell Wilson learning on the fly as the Vikings quarterback? Of course, that can't happen. I'm not saying Joe Webb is the answer either, but it can't hurt to add another athlete to the field for the rest of this season. Then try to swing a trade for 49er's recently benched starter Alex Smith or the Seahawks backup Matt Flynn while drafting another quarterback. Let them all battle it out in training camp.
I would love it if he proves me wrong, but I think that Christian Ponder will likely end up as a backup NFL quarterback and there is no shame in that. The shame would be if it takes the Vikings much longer to figure this out and never hold him accountable for his mistakes.