Thursday, June 20, 2013

Christian Ponder and his performance during minicamp - we've seen this film before

Can we conclude anything from offseason OTAs and minicamps where hitting isn't allowed and guys aren't wearing full gear? I don't think so. But following coverage of these Vikings events the past couple of weeks, I can't quite shake the uneasiness I have about what I'm hearing regarding Christian Ponder's play during these practices - something, I think, ESPN's Kevin Seifert captures quite well in this post.

We know Ponder didn't have an optimum development scenario during his rookie year. We know he had no deep threats or end zone threats at wide receiver to throw to last year. But to read about him throwing double-clutch interceptions, overthrowing wide open receivers and the like, well, that's worrisome.

Granted, this is a good time to be fucking up. But when I consider how important it is for Ponder to play well in order for the Vikings to be a factor in the NFC, I'd really rather be reading how he's throwing lasers all over the place. I also can't imagine quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning or even Colin Kaepernick struggling like Ponder did in some of these practices.

I wouldn't say I'm anything close to panicking at this point. Just call it a case of fatherly concern.


  1. Maybe it is just our lockdown secondary stepping up and making it impossible to find the open man. Ha!

    Also, when did this happen, was I asleep?
    [Sullivan, who had microfracture knee surgery in January, is "on target to start when we start," Frazier said, "so hopefully, that'll still be the case."]

    Damn, I missed that news. I know microfracture surgery isn't as scary as it used to be, but hopefully isn't my favorite word for our starting center being ready to go.

    1. ETR:

      Heh. You must have been asleep on the Sullivan surgery. And, yes, I'm starting to think he won't be ready for training camp or maybe even early in the season because Frazier has been kind of evasive when asked if he will be ready by then.

  2. I read that Seifert article as well. I'm glad I don't put too much stock in positive reports from June practices, or I'd be tempted to overreact to these negative stories. I do think the negative ones carry a little more weight, though.

    If Ponder plays poorly, it will be interesting to see how long they wait to put Cassel in. I wonder how likely he would be to lead the Vikings to the ployoffs if he got a chance to start all 16 games? If the odds are OK, you have to think they'd like him to start 10-12 games if Ponder bombs.

  3. Bishop!

    With 4 justifiable directions to go in the draft, the Vikings went down 3 of those roads in the 1st round and now this young FA gem falls into their laps. amazing!

  4. I think guys are breathing too much into this. If you recall. Last year at this time. AT LEAST 5 scouts reported that manning had lost all throwing power and velocity. He balls looked slow and never got better. And that is the thing guys. Its practice. You are allowed to have ups and downs. To make mistakes because you learn. Hey. Doing this in a game would be very dumb.

    People seem to forget that ponder has one full year. He is very intelligent. And some of this is the improved defence. He look exactly like a true second year qb with a whole new wr core would look like. INCONSISTANT. its ota guys. Not once did ponder even throw 3 picks during a game last year. Show some support. And defend your qb

  5. Anon 12:35 p.m.:

    Thanks for the comment. I think I pointed out in the beginning of the post that it's dangerous to read much of anything into OTAs. I also like Ponder personally and his teammates seem to like him and like his leadership.

    However, I feel no need to cheerlead or defend Ponder. Nor do I feel it will help him if I show him unconditional love or support. I have been supportive of him during his two years with the Vikings for the most part, but that still doesn't change my views that I see red flags in his game (which I hope he will stop me seeing this year).

    Nobody's perfect, of course, but last year Ponder started the year playing OK, then was horrendous for a stretch of about six weeks or so, before playing OK-to-very good in his last four games. He at times looked like a decent QB. At times he looked like a horrible QB. Most of the time he looked like an OK QB. At no time did he look like a franchise cornerstone QB - the kind of player you expect to get when you draft them at #12.

    Yes, he didn't have much of a group to throw to and that didn't help him. But the Vikings also asked him to do very little all year, ran about as simple a passing game as you could possibly run for a QB and Ponder frequently couldn't handle it. I don't want to compare him to elite QBs like Rodgers or Brady or Brees because he isn't at their level, but I doubt they would have struggled as badly as he did in games like Seattle, Green Bay (at Lambeau) even with the cast of WRs the Vikings had.

    And Ponder's problems don't even have anything to do with his physical skills from what I've seen. He can run and his arm strength is fine. But his decision-making is often spotty and he seems to panic when the passing pocket isn't clean. Add those two things along with a lack of accuracy on throws - at least from what I've seen - beyond seven yards and I worry a bit. I hope he works it out in year three and plays consistently like the guy we saw in the season finale against the Packers. But I'm skeptical, especially when I hear he's making the same mistakes in OTAs that he's been making in his first two years as a Viking.

    Like I said above. I hope he figures it out. But he doesn't look like "The Guy" to me after two years. I'll be happy to be proven dead wrong on this one.

  6. Darren. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my points and you make several good points. Let me first say this. I have been a hardcore viking fan for 20 years. I have watched ever game and ever throw made by our qbs in that time. And ponder is thw guy we need.

    If I had to pick one problem. It is what you listed. He does panick when the pocket is attack. That will be cured with time. He just panicks a bit too much. Actually it deminds me of flacco in his first few years. The difference is he needs to learn to trust his oline. Butremember how bad Iit was in 2011.

    I have studied every throw beyond 7 yards. And his accuracy can be deadly whwn rhe wr goes where he thinks they will. You want a few examples. Atlanta on his rookie year. Ponder calls percy to go deep and fast on 4th. He knows exactly where percy will be and puts it on the only spot where it wont be picked off. Accounting for the endzone yards. That was a 60 yard fast ball and all qb on tjat throw. THAT was the moment I fell for this kid.

    However. My love is not blind or eternal. Ponder. Barring injuries must reach certain marks to keep us in like. One. 3000 yards passing with this wr core. Healthy is my first maindate. It is not much more than last year. But it is a standard that must be reached. At least 25 tds. This again show form and balance and measurable growth.

    I do beleive ponder is the guy and we can win a sb with him. But he needs support. You can line his numbers up to some of the best. But he needs to show some growth. And fans need to understand he is ponder. Not rg3 or luck. Let himself and we.will be just fine. No doubts.

    1. Anon:

      Thanks for stopping by. I always try to respond to readers who take the time to post on this site.

    2. Just nice to talk football with someone who puts thought into it. Have a happy 4th. 10 sundays to football.