I've always like the work of Greg Cosell of NFL Films. His Twitter is a must-follow, and if you're a football fan, you owe it to yourself to find a copy of his book The Games That Changed The Game, which he co-authored with Ron Jaworski and David Plaut.
Since it's the off-season, people like Cosell are getting a chance to look at things they might not ordinarily get a chance to look at during the actual season. In Cosell's case, he gets a chance to look at players like Minnesota Vikings' quarterback Christian Ponder, and Cosell appears to like what he sees. (He also looks at another rookie quarterback from 2011, Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals, but obviously we're more interested in his evaluation of Ponder.)
Cosell starts out by reminding us of the disadvantage that Ponder was at last season:
Unlike Dalton, who was installed as the Bengals' starter in training camp, Ponder began 2011 as a backup - to Donovan McNabb. That's important to remember. He did not get first-team reps all through camp and the first six weeks of the season. He wasn't named the starter until mid-October, before the Week 7 home game against the Green Bay Packers. No offseason due to the lockout, limited reps ... and then your first start comes against the defending Super Bowl champions, who were undefeated at the time.
Yes, McNabb got all of the first-team reps in order to get him up to speed with the Vikings' offense. Clearly it did the job.
Cosell then goes on to praise Ponder's confidence, his ability to move the pocket, and other positives. He then lists the four things that young quarterbacks need to do to excel at the quarterback position in the NFL.
1. Grasping all the subtleties of your own offense.
2. Comprehending the nuances and complexities of opposing defenses.
3. Reading coverage properly after the ball is snapped.
4. Controlling the game before the ball is snapped through recognition and understanding of pressure schemes and coverages.
As Cosell said, Ponder had difficulties getting past "1" last season. . .but now that he's the unquestioned starter, getting all of the first-team reps in practice, and getting an off-season to work with Leslie Frazier, Bill Musgrave, and all of his teammates, my guess is that we'll see marked improvement from Ponder and an increase in his ability to do all of the things on that list.
Cosell concludes that, between Ponder and Dalton, most would agree that Dalton is the better player at this moment in time. He also says that he's not sure that will be the case in a couple of years. I think I would have to agree on both fronts.
What do you folks think?