So the inevitable start of the Ponder era has begun in the Savage Norsemen lands and now comes the question: How do we use Ponder for the remainder of the year. One approach would be to lean heavily on the run attack, let Peterson and Gerhart pound the ball and let Ponder accent the offense with some low impact passes and let him grow into the position casually. The other would be to allow Ponder to make any and all throws possible, let him pass thirty or more times per game and let the mistakes happen, as they will with any young QB, and let him learn from those. I believe the first method would be a mistake and I’ll elaborate as to why.
Granted, Minnesota has a potent run game when the holes are there. Peterson is THE best RB in the NFL, bar-none, and Gerhart compliments him nicely, taking some abuse and running between the tackles nicely. Harvin provides yet another dimension to the run game, ripping off huge gains whenever he touches the ball it seems and this would be a great fall back option for Ponder if he needs it but I think we should allow Ponder to go out there and sling it 30-40 times a game. Let him stand in the pocket, bootleg, improvise, whatever he needs to in order to get those passes in. My rationale behind this is the fact the 2011 season is lost to us. It is going to take at least 10, probably 11 wins to make a Wild card berth this year and already sitting at 1-5 with the Packers coming up twice in 4 weeks, the probability of the Vikings winning 10 of their next 11 games is astronomical. With Ponder being named the #2 QB and being inserted into the game, the debate is no longer whether or not Webb or Ponder should be the starting QB but rather what do we do with Ponder now that Frazier has tied his future as the HC of the Vikings to Ponder’s success as the QBOTF.
The Vikings need to use Ponder in the same fashion that Carolina is using Newton; let him go out there, make all the throws and make as many mistakes as he needs to in order to grow. I don’t know much about Newton but I’d wager quite a bit that Ponder is as smart, if not smarter, than Newton and Newton seems to have picked up Carolina’s playbook and ran with it. Granted they are 1-5 as well but Carolina isn’t playing to win a SuperBowl this year either. They are playing Newton to get him ready for next year. I heard it said on one of the half-time shows either during week 3 or 4 that Carolina allowing Newton to pass as much as he is will allow him to grow as much in one year as a QB who was given a limited amount of throws would grow in three years. Now there is no real way to prove this but it stands to reason that a QB who is allowed to be a diverse amount of situations during a short period of time will encounter a greater amount of problems or mistakes and be forced to learn and grow from those mistakes and I’m betting, once again, that with Ponder’s intelligence, he’d grow pretty darn quick.
So I say, let Ponder go out there next Sunday against the Pack and throw his arm off. Get him at least 30 attempts, and regardless of how many incompletions or interceptions he has, do not take him out. Let the team know, we aren’t giving up: We are simply growing and getting ready for next year and if you want to be here for the success down the road, Man up! Go out there and play every down no matter the score and earn your spot with the coming greatness that will be led by the youth this team is putting together. And if we do badly this year, that simply gives us another much needed building block early in the draft for next year. By letting Ponder go out there and sling it as much as possible, we can cut down on his growing phase and get into the purely awesome phase we all hope he is capable of.