After an abysmal 2010 season, one that included the firing of Brad Childress, the Randy Moss fiasco, and the Metrodome collapse, the Vikings are hoping to turn the ship around. With a new head coach, new offensive coordinator, a fresh crop of talented young rookies, and a solid core of veteran players, there is plenty of optimism among fans and players. As Rick Spielman has said, the Vikings are not rebuilding, they are simply retooling. And I think it is safe to say that Favre-a-paloosa is finally over.
When the Vikings drafted Ponder with the 12th pick in the draft this spring, many fans were shocked. I personally was surprised as well, but I really like Ponder and think it was a good pick. To be honest though, I'm still rooting for Joe Webb too. The way he performed under pressure on national television with minimal preparation left a sort of silver lining on the 2010 season. However, it's obvious that the Vikings' brass sees Ponder as our franchise quarterback. They are enamored by the intelligence and leadership he displayed during his years at Florida State...and so am I.
Ponder has already demonstrated his leadership abilities this offseason. By setting up and paying for the unofficial Vikings' minicamp at the IMG Academy, Ponder is trying to get a head start on the upcoming season. Although none of the Vikings' big guns on offense made it to the camp, Ponder was able to install some parts of the Vikings' new offense and get to know some of his teammates.
Visanthe Shiancoe was absent from the camp, but in an interview on twincities.com, he said that he still plans to join Ponder at IMG at some point. He also applauded Ponder's leadership by saying,
"That's great initiative. That depicts a team leader right there. If a rookie comes in with the right mindset, willing and able to put in extra work, I fell that can really separate them from other rookies. They have to get on the grind. Even for vets, we're going to be in a whole new system in there."
Shiancoe is not the only veteran player with kind words for the rookie quarterback. According to Scout.com, Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson thinks that Ponder has all the intangibles to be a star in the NFL. A guest on ESPN's SportsNation, Peterson said,
"He’s already had the playbook, he should be ready to go. The one thing about his game is he’s very accurate. His accuracy is there."
It's encouraging to hear some of the veterans on the team are embracing the rookie signal-caller. I believe that Ponder can have a Matt Ryan type of rookie season. The Vikings have a solid defense, that in my opinion, improved in the draft. They have plenty of weapons for Ponder to use, a simplified offense, and an offensive coordinator with past success working with young quarterbacks. On top of that, head coach Leslie Frazier is well known for his communication skills and motivational techniques. Our beloved Vikings will be ready to compete on opening day.