The outcry for a quarterback swap is growing louder in Minnesota.
“Right now, 2012 is not on the radar as we prepare for this next ballgame,” Frazier said.
In preparation for 2012, the Vikings need to focus on understanding what the quarterback situation will look like next season. The first step in that process is realizing that what they’ve been doing in 2011 isn’t working.
Veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb was brought in before the beginning of the regular season to see if he could lead the Vikings back to the playoffs after a disappointing 2010 season. Unfortunately, it has not panned out that way and McNabb has been anything but impressive in 2011. In six games, he has thrown only four touchdowns and has turned the Vikings’ offense into the 31st ranked passing attack in the NFL.
The biggest factors that have led to his lack of success are his inaccuracy and inability to move in the pocket the way he did during his days with the Philadelphia Eagles. Throughout this season, he has become known for his knack of throwing into the dirt and taking unnecessary sacks. He isn’t playing with the same confidence that he possessed in the past and is proving that he’s well beyond his days as a starting-caliber quarterback.
With these underwhelming performances from McNabb comes the possible beginning of the Christian Ponder era in Minnesota. And if Ponder’s NFL debut was any inclination, he should be starting in the next week or two. He looked cool and collected out on the field against the Bears and showed more poise than you’d expect from a rookie. It’s clear that his passing skills still need some refinement, but everything was running smoothly in Ponder’s head and he found ways to make plays. Admittedly, he only played during garbage time but his performance was nonetheless promising. Ponder was considered one of the most NFL-ready quarterbacks when the Vikings drafted him 12th overall and will get his chance to show it soon.
Although I would love to see Ponder get his first start this week, it seems a bit careless to throw the rookie to the wolves against the Green Bay Packers. Frazier doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem, though.
“The opponent is the opponent and they’re going to be a good team whoever we line up against,” Frazier said when asked if starting Ponder against the undefeated Packers would be a concern. “They’ll be a good team whenever Christian gets his chance to play.”
The Vikings’ other option at quarterback that continues to get overlooked is second-year playmaker Joe Webb. Webb, who started three games last year as the Vikings’ gunslinger, is a tremendous athlete who’s considered very raw as a quarterback. The fact that he led the team to a victory last year against a good Eagles team can’t be overlooked, though. He has plenty of potential as a passer and could be a safer option than Ponder, who might not be ready to take the reins just yet.
Another option that the Vikings could pursue is trading McNabb to the Oakland Raiders, who are without a quality quarterback after Jason Campbell broke his collarbone this past weekend. The Raiders are in dire need of a serviceable starter and might be tempted to take a stab at bringing in McNabb if the situation got desperate enough. They’ve already talked to the Cincinnati Bengals about trading for Carson Palmer, but that’s not likely to pan out.
“We’re going to discuss some things throughout this day (Monday),” Frazier said when asked if the Vikings would try to make a trade before tomorrow’s deadline. “We’ll see what happens when it comes to that.”
Trading McNabb would allow for a much smoother transition to either Ponder or Webb as the Vikings’ starter.
Either way, benching McNabb doesn’t seem to be an option. It’s hard to imagine that he’ll happily hold a clipboard as Ponder’s backup. Whether they trade him or release him, don’t be surprised if McNabb isn’t wearing the horns in the near future.
I’d hate to jump on the bandwagon, but it looks like the Vikings could be contestants in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. That makes it even more important for the Vikings to figure out whether or not Ponder is the future of their franchise. If they do end up with the No. 1 overall pick, they’ll then know if they need to draft Luck or if they can trade the pick for a king’s ransom. Again, I stress the importance of seeing what type of future Ponder can have with the team.
More than anything, the Vikings need to bench or simply get rid of McNabb this week. It’s clear that he isn’t the answer. The future needs to be the focus, and McNabb isn’t the future.