FanPost

In Defense of Christian Ponder

What a short memory Vikings fans have...or is it a lack of patience? Maybe it's envy after watching elite, veteran QBs like Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning on the primetime games week after week....I'll go with that one. Either way, I've been reading the comments from a vocal minority that want to see Christian Ponder either benched, cut, or both. Why vocal minority? Well, if KJ's poll is any indication, only 23% of readers of the DN think we should "cut our losses now and move on to someone else" at the QB position. I recently read a comment from kcskol (sorry to put you on the spot) where he said the following:

If we could get even average starting QB play, I think this team would be rolling right now at 7-2. We might still have gotten buzz sawed in the final month and a half of play, but I’m not sure. As it now stands, I don’t see us winning more than one remaining game this season unless Ponder is replaced. And going winless the rest of the season is a possibility unless special teams and defense bail out the team again as they did against Detroit earlier this year.

With Ponder this team is bad. Without Ponder this team will be better.

And that got me thinking...what is "average starting QB play"? Well, I scoured the stats and calculated out what the average starting QB has done so far in 2012. This average does not include Tennessee or Arizona QBs, because neither Hasselbeck/Locker or Kolb/Skelton has played enough games to have their stats compare fairly (I didn't have time to project/average 9 games worth of stats for those pairs of QBs as a single QB for inclusion...so...sue me). Anyway, the remaining 30 teams (including Ponder) has an average QB with the following stat line:

Average 2012 NFL QB

Att.

Comp.

%

Att/Gm

Yards

Yds/Gm

Yds/Att

TDs

INTs

1st Dn

Rating

282

175

0.620

31.3

2,038

226.4

7.2

12

7

98

87.4

I've also criticized several DN members for focusing solely on the two bad games to make a case that Ponder is somehow not fit to QB the team, because they are wrongfully ignoring the good games he's had. One fan went so far as to say the following:

I’ve seen te stats making Eli or Brady look poorat the same stage, but really, folks: when they were playing at that stage, could you not TELL by looking at them that they could put together game-winning drives when they needed to do so, despite their mistakes earlier in the game? Did they not seem to show that magic spark of a real field general?
C’mon.
But I have YET to see it with CP7.

First off, this fan must not have watched the incredible come-from-behind win in week 1, or the incredible performance against San Francisco 2 weeks later. Ponder has had good games, and very bad games this season. As far as I'm concerned, this is EXACTLY what we should have expected. He's young. He's still learning, and we're gonna get a mixed bag this year. The fact that he played so well in the beginning has raised everyone's expectations (rightly or wrongly). But, I think it's more appropriate to look at the complete picture of Christian Ponder so far this year, rather than freak out about a couple bad games. So, how does Christian Ponder's complete stat line stack up to the average above? Well, almost to a tee. Check out his full season stats.

Christian Ponder through 9 games in 2012

Att.

Comp.

%

Att/Gm

Yards

Yds/Gm

Yds/Att

TDs

INTs

1st Dn

Rating

288

182

0.641

31.6

1,806

200.7

6.4

10

8

98

82.0

So, comparing the two tables, a couple of things jump out at me. First, the good:

1. His completion % is better than average

2. His attempts, first downs and INTs are almost exactly average

Then, the bad:

1. His yardage stats are below average

2. His TDs are slightly below average

3. His QB Rating is slightly below average

Conclusion

We have, basically, an average starting NFL QB in Christian Ponder so far this year. I think it's fair to criticize him for not getting the ball down the field more, and not finding the endzone enough, because he's below average in those stats. But even so, he's either on average, or better for a number of other stats, so that IMO it sufficiently balances out. Now, imagine if I had cherry-picked the stats and removed his two worst games over the past 3 weeks. All his stats would probably be above average!

Anyway, I felt these comments were worth responding to, and a simple comment reply to all the various Ponder bashing comments wouldn't have done it justice. I feel the right thing to do is to stick with Ponder and allow him to continue to learn the game and make progress. There are a myriad of reasons as to why the passing game is in a funk, and it may or may not have to do with Christian Ponder. But I agree with 71% of fans who either said that Yes, Christian Ponder is the QBOTF, or that we at least need to keep playing him this year to find out if he is. Put me in the undecided/leaning towards QBOTF camp.

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a <em>community</em>, that view is no less important.

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