I've been reading the Daily Norseman for around 2-3 months now and I got the sudden urge to write my first article, so here it goes.
2011 Christian Ponder vs. 1989 Troy Aikman
Now, I understand that the passing game has come a long way since Mr. Aikman played and that will factor into this. That aside, I think these two QB’s are very similar and were placed in similar circumstances. Ponder came into a franchise that was in rebuilding mode (even if ownership didn’t want to admit it), the whole Favre thing had happened, Sidney Rice was on his way out the door, people were growing old rapidly, things were not looking up. The same can be said for Aikman. Jerry Jones had just taken over, Tom Landry was gone, no one knew what to expect.
Aikman was drafted #1 overall, while Ponder was #12. Pressure wise, I’m sure Aikman was feeling it at this point. #1 overall is enough pressure, but to be drafted by the Cowboys? I’m surprised he didn’t have a meltdown. There was less pressure on Ponder because he was the twelfth pick but we all saw he was under pressure to succeed. He had to replace Brett Favre! I’m sure his boots nearly fell apart at this point. Ponder did have the luxury (can we call it that?) of sitting behind “Chunky” McNabb for 6 games, time enough to learn more offense than McNabb knew. Both played 11 games their rookie season, both had to sit out with injuries.
Ponder comes in at 6-2, 229 lbs. His height is a bit of a concern, but shorter guys have proven themselves, so only time will tell. Being a decent sized guy, he’s quick on his feet, able to throw fairly well on the run and also able to tuck it and slide for a couple of yards. His foot work could improve, (and from what I’ve read he’s working on it) his mechanics looked pretty smooth for a guy in his first NFL year. The vision is improving, and will continue to do so. Aikman, logs in at 6-4, 219 lbs. To me, he seems to be slight under weight for a 6-4 guy, maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. Aikman always had good footwork, mechanics and vision. All of these things can be taught, but few can master them like Aikman did. Maybe Ponder can master them as well? Time will tell.
If you take a look at Aikman’s stats even in his best years, he wasn’t that great. He never threw for more than 23 TD’s or 3500 yards. But, he had leadership skills, something that really can’t be taught. Ponder, even his first year held more respect on the team than a 13 year veteran. To be that much of a leader at such a young age and on a new team really speaks for Ponder’s confidence and ability. With a full offseason to work with his teammates, Ponder should be fully trusted by everyone and this will be demonstrated on the field through the way Ponder run’s the offense and communicates with everyone.
Moving on to a statistical comparison, the two were very similar when it comes to on field production.(P=Ponder, A=Aikman)
Comp% P: 54.3 vs. A: 52.9
Yds. P: 1853 vs. A: 1749
Td% P: 4.5 vs. A: 3.1
Int% P: 4.5 vs. A: 6.1
Td:Int Ratio: P 13:13 vs. A: 9:18(!!!)
Y/A. P: 6.4 vs. 6.0
Y/C. P: 11.7 vs. A: 11.3
With that you should be able to see that Ponder was slightly better in just about every category. That being said, Ponder was a rookie in the new passing era and from what he have heard and seen Ponder is smarter. Nothing against Aikman, he was a great QB and does some decent announcing work but I don’t think he’s not on Ponder level intellectually. Ponder has proven this. When he stepped in as our starting QB, the amount of plays increased from when McNabb was starting. Ponder’s knowledge of the game incredible for such a young QB. If he continues to be a student of the game, we could see possibly one of the smartest QB’s in NFL history.
Something to note for Aikman, was the presence of Michael Irvin. It was only his second year in the league; he was dominant even though he only played in 6 games that year. Having someone like that to go out, get open and catch the ball is a real assurance for a QB. That’s nothing against our WR’s but let’s admits it; we didn’t exactly have the best supporting cast to welcome Ponder with.
Ponder had slight team advantage in Adrian Peterson (and Toby Gerhart after AP’s injury). Having someone behind you who you know can step up run the ball exceptionally well, block decently, and carry the team when you are unsure of what to do is a huge advantage and confidence boost to a QB.
If Ponder does develop into an Aikman, I would be over the moon. Having a franchise QB for the next 10 years is a great asset for any team.
Comments, thoughts, ideas?