Ever heard of Atelophobia? I hope Ponder has.

This post was born out of a response in the comments section of Glover's Stockmarket Report. However, it soon became clear to me that I would be better off giving this its own space and air to breathe. I think it is something that merits some discussion, though I do understand that finding factual information of pertinence to the subject may be somewhat difficult and perhaps more challenging than I initially assumed.

As a disclaimer, and as a response to collective "abondon ship" movement that is currently taking place, I would like to state that I am by no means trying to convince anyone of anything, and my whole aim is to make my point intelligible to all those who happen to read this post. It is my hope that something fruitful might also result in response to this post.

First, I would like to start out by pointing out that this Vikings team has managed to win a grand total of ONE road game. Now initially, I credited this to the collaborative youth that has become characteristic to our team, which also brings along inconsistency into the characteristic fold. However, I think this game was a break through in that the lowest common factor has revealed itself. If my memory serves me correctly, I would argue that Christian Ponder has played significantly worse on the road than he has at home, and while its true that the teams road record is a team description, and one the team has well earned, I believe Ponder to be the "root cause".

Having suspected this or at least acknowledged Ponders drop off (though the true weight of its impact not fully realized) on road games, I hardly expected much from Ponder. Given a very hostile environment (and particularly one at that) coupled with the suspicion of Ponder' lackluster road performances, I had prepared myself for the possibility of seeing Ponder's worst game. In fact, there is general unperturbed ease that still resides over me that I still have not yet fully accepted as being ok, but that is my problem. Still I was delighted to see Adrian Peterson have the game he did (I believe him to be a historic back, enjoy it folks), and I at least enjoyed watching us take it to the Packers in their home for a significant portion of the game. That is all fine and dandy, but what we really want to be talking about is how pathetic the passing attack was and the extent of Ponders culpability (which I believe to be a lot).

We all know about our generally anemic receiving corp, but lets focus on Ponder. This leads me to the word Atelophobia which is the fear of imperfection, yet I would like to take the privilege to rephrase it in perhaps the equivalent form of being the fear of making mistakes. At first thought this trait might seem to be a positive one, because if you are afraid of something then naturally you will want to avoid it. However, football is an entirely different animal and a bit paradoxical in that in order to avoid mistakes you must first make them. Football is learned by the simplest way humans know how to learn, that is by trial and error (which is why you don't need to be a rocket scientist to be a QB), and herein lies the problem (again my opinion). I have read plenty of articles where Musgrave and coaches comment about how Ponder wants to make everything perfect and do everything correctly. The plus side of this condition is that it can be a relentless force which drives someone to achieve higher things (NFL QB, BA, MBA in 4 years (second masters in the works), and Ponder is widely considered to be a very hard worker). The downside is that is very much like a fear. Worse it is a self inflicted and sustained fear, and as is also known, self delusion is the worst kind of delusion of all.

This leads me to my point: Ponder is in the vice grips of his own mind. It is widely accepted that Ponder has all the physical and character traits that make him a good guinea pig for our QB experiment. Yet he is having a hell of a time. I believe he has the mental capacity to to be a good QB (something I wouldn't say about his predecessor, Tavaris) and yet it seems as though all his problems are mental. The truth is all the mental capacity in the world won't help you if you are in a near state of panic. It seems pretty clear that Ponder is still very uncomfortable in the pocket. The reason for the discomfort and fear is greater than just being flattened by 300lb beasts; rather, it is the restless nights of dissatisfaction that follow being sacked, throwing an interception, or even failing to making the optimal throw. The desire and compulsion to perform at the highest level possible can be utterly crippling if you haven't yet figured out how to do so(especially when we are 100% convinced that we are capable of such feats and do ourselves a disservice by not reaching such accolades). At risk of being cliche, Ponder is very much his own worst enemy.

So what is to be done? To my knowledge the only real way for Ponder to get over this is to work it out himself on the devil's playground,a particularly suitable choice if one considers the rudimentary mode of learning inherent to football. This is why I support maintaining Ponder as starter. In the beginning of the season, though his stats were better (this is mostly thanks to percy and the short passing game that coaches have now figured out) and he was arguably playing better football, he was still playing way too safe and running away from the challenges that a true QB needs to overcome. The only way for Ponder to learn is to make those mistake, and I am happy to see him making them, because again, this is the only way to learn.

It may be the case that Ponder never figures out how to deal with this issue, but we invested more than a 1st round pick in him. We timed our rebuilding process around him. If he fails then we must take another gamble on a QB which would would lengthen our rebuilding process by at least a couple of years, and we lose the added benefit of all the young players playing with each other and developing with each other. Thus in order to give up on Ponder, you have to be absolutely sure that he will not be able to overcome this problem, and I just don't see how you can make that argument concrete just yet.

Thus, I for one have not abandoned ship. Besides, I find Ponder to be an interesting atypical case.

Lastly, for a hypothesis to be a good one there must be some way of testing it. I expect Ponder to play much better next week at HOME against the Bears. Here I expect Ponder to be much more comfortable and capable of dealing with his issues. If this happens, this would add credence to this possibility, though certainty not making anything conclusive.


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 community, that view is no less important.

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