Going into this season, there were an abundance of questions surrounding the quarterback situation for the Vikings. Christian Ponder was coming off a so-so rookie campaign in which he started 10 games and threw 13 touchdowns as well as 13 picks. Joe Webb was an athletic playmaker with some accuracy issues throwing the football who was a spark plug off the bench when spelling Ponder last season. Sage Rosenfels was brought in to mentor the two youngsters and provide leadership and experience, but was surprisingly cut in favor of the strong-armed McLeod John Baltazar Bethel-Thompson (yes, that is seriously his full name).
Ponder, coming as a surprise to no one, won the starting job. He looked a little shaky at times in week one vs Jacksonville, but led the troops on a fabulous drive to set up a 55-yard game-tying field goal by Blair Walsh and finished with 270 yards passing. Week two rolled around and Ponder and the Vikes got off to another slow start but #7 again came up big late, rallying from a 14-point deficit and throwing two scores to take the lead until South Dakota native (had to throw that in there) Adam Vinatieri broke up our undefeated season.
Then came week three. Literally no one across America, save the 53 guys wearing purple thought we could knock off the San Francisco 49ers, who many believed to be the best team in the league by a long shot. Well, Ponder had other plans, throwing for two more touchdowns and adding a very impressive touchdown run in the process, as the Vikes stunned the Niners, 24-13. Ponder hovered around average to above average the next two weeks in wins vs Detroit and Titans, but hey, at least we're still winning.
All of a sudden, the wheels fell off. And I don't mean gradually started to fall off, I'm talking all four wheels simultaneously combusting. The Vikings have now lost three out of their last four, with Ponder throwing for 58 and 63 yards in two of those games. Even while his stats look good in some games, he wouldn't even pass a Helen Keller eye test. So this begs the obvious question: is it time to hand the reigns to Joe Webb?
I say no...kind of. I've been defending Ponder all season long, but this is starting to get out of hand. I say start Ponder against Detroit on Sunday. If he's being thrown to the Lions (pun intended) and continues to struggle, then I say it's Webb time. This will only be possible though, if Leslie Frazier grows some nuts and has to hurt someone's feelings to do what's best for the team (speaking of benching Ponder of course).
Why not just start Webb, you ask? The element of surprise, I say. Webb has been most successful in his illustrious career when he comes off the bench in the middle of the game. Twice last year, he led comebacks, although only winning one of them. When teams have an entire week to prepare for Joe Webb, he's not as effective. When they prepare for Ponder all week, they get thrown off when a completely different quarterback enters the game.
Thanks for bearing with me through this longer than anticipated post. Whatever decision is made, I hope and pray that it is one that helps turn this team around. And if not...Geno Smith will be available in the draft next year! Skol.