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Article: A Lesson from the Ponder Era

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 31 August 2014 - 05:38 AM

According to Twitter on Friday, Sid Hartman thought Christian Ponder played a helluva game Thursday night.

Look, I don't want to kick around Christian Ponder anymore. It's been an exhausting 3 years and he is about as likely to see the field in a Vikings uniform this season as I am. Ponder was efficient Thursday, sure, completing 12 of 15 passes for 121 yards with no interceptions. But all of this came against backups and backups to backups. I'm not putting a ton of stock into what Sid said and there's a good chance he spit food on someone when he said it and probably needs to wipe the corners of his mouth right now, but there was a general feeling of "Hey Ponder doesn't look too bad" on Thursday night among fans and writers on Twitter.The Christian Ponder Era was defined by unrealistic expectations and bad play mixed in with flashes of OK-ness. Despite some atrocious games statistically (he threw for less than 100 yards 3 times), the Vikings were in the playoff hunt in December of 2012 and managed to win their final four games to make the playoffs thanks to Adrian Peterson. Ponder's ceiling was always low and it seemed he could only run three or four gimmicky pass plays rather than an entire playbook of a pro-style offense.

Ponder played well in the 2012 regular season finale but couldn't play in the playoff game the next week due to injury. That right there is a microcosm of the Ponder Era. He played well enough to win in one game, and then (in this example literally) couldn't do anything the next week. His two appearances in this pre-season had the same contrast. In game one, he was 3-7 for 39 yards with three sacks. Radio/TV/Twitter wondered if he had flat out quit on the team. It was assumed he would be traded or cut. In game four, he looked fine against 3rd and 4th stringers.

It's time to move on from the Ponder Experiment. Trade him for whatever you can get. Or cut him and let him sign with someone else. He needs to go be a serviceable backup somewhere else that will limit his exposure. But, the Vikings can/should learn something here.

If there is a lesson, it is for Rick Spielman (or whoever the GM happens to be). The quarterback position isn't "settled" until you have a top-10 guy that can win playoff games. Don't reach for guys, don't use first round draft picks necessarily, but the Vikings should be drafting or finding a young QB to develop every year or two until they find the Guy. There should be a quarterback competition in every training camp until they have the Guy.

The Vikings passed on later round QBs like Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins in the 2012 draft. There were rumors that Ponder wasn't up for a QB competition and the Vikings didn't want to mess with his confidence. Those are the kind of guys you cut, not coddle. Teddy Bridgewater seems to embrace the competition. Great. Find a QB to compete with him in training camp next year. At some point, they'll find the QB that makes them stop looking for another QB. I hope, as much as anybody, that Bridgewater is The Guy. Hell, I wish Ponder were The Guy, but you can wish in one hand and...well, you see what I mean.

QB is the one position that isn't set until you have one of the best in the league. Hopefully the last few years has taught the Vikings that. The Christian Ponder Era doesn't have to be a total loss.

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#2 Joe Oberle

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Posted 01 September 2014 - 10:53 AM

Well said, John. It's hard to waste so many draft picks on failed QB experiments, but you are right, it is so important, they have to be at least looking at it in every draft and selecting someone for it often. I do like that they kept Ponder this year. The 1.7 mil salary is guaranteed and he can at least keep a season rolling if the first two QBs go down. Too many injuries in this league. You might need three. And the season doesn't have to go down the tubes with him while you wait for your primary QB to come back from injury.


#3 DocBauer

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Posted 01 September 2014 - 04:24 PM

Ponder needs to go. Period.

And I don't care if he might be the best, most successful 3rd string QB in the NFL. (Don't that he is or isn't, but it's been debated and possible)

I am not a Ponder hater. But A) he needs to go just for his own sake if not the team's B) If a young and rebuilding team is honestly looking to or expecting something from their 3rd team QB to make their season, then they might be in real trouble.

Trade ponder for a 6th rounder if you have to, but I'd like to think he's worth a 5th if the lousy Gabbert is worth a 6th. Of course, a conditional pick based upon playing time is also an option. And honestly, for both teams, is there a better match/need than the Rams?

Sign a young rookie or 1st year QB for the practice squad vs the regular roster. I only caught a few of the final cut down names, but Renners or someone else has to be available to sign and work with.

#4 Cm1

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Posted 01 September 2014 - 05:17 PM

More on the lesson

4th QB Taken & Round
2009 Pat White 2nd / Stephen McGee 4th (White taken for athleticism) (McGee?)
2010 Colt McCoy 2nd
2011 Christian Ponder 1st
2012 Brandon Weeden 1st
2013 Matt Barkely 3rd

2011 players drafted 4th by position (as appear 1st) & selection

QB Christian Ponder 12
LB Bruce Carter 40
DE Ryan Kerrigan 16
WR Titus Young 44
CB Ras-I Dowling 33
OT James Carpenter 25 Gabe Carimi 29 (Both converted to G) (Both catastrophic injuries as rookies)
DT Marvin Austin 52
C Jason Kelce 191 (Fusco was 3rd taken)
G Will Rackley 76
RB Mikel Leshoure 37
TE Luke Stocker 104
S Quinton Carter 108

(Kaepernick 36, Dalton 35)

Everything possible was pulling against Ponder outside Adrian. Line play, coaching, receiving corps, QBs in the organization. He has an average arm, below average touch, accuracy, size, read reaction, pocket presence, determination, charisma. It all adds up. He will get another chance, he's just going to have to learn to stop feeling sorry. It's the highest level competition. Prove it or get out.

#5 nicksaviking

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Posted 02 September 2014 - 10:07 AM

Well said, John. It's hard to waste so many draft picks on failed QB experiments, but you are right, it is so important, they have to be at least looking at it in every draft and selecting someone for it often. I do like that they kept Ponder this year. The 1.7 mil salary is guaranteed and he can at least keep a season rolling if the first two QBs go down. Too many injuries in this league. You might need three. And the season doesn't have to go down the tubes with him while you wait for your primary QB to come back from injury.

 

I was happy with the Vikings draft, but I only half jokingly said, pre-draft, that the team should go ahead and draft 7 QBs.  I really do want a well rounded team, but it does seem that the two ways to win it all are by having a stud QB or 12 stud defensive players, and logic would suggest it's easier to find one player than it is to find 12.