Anyone who pays attention to my posts knows that I am analytical and not a believer in Ponder or the direction of the team. Since the beginning of last season, I hadn't seen any real evidence that this team is moving in the right direction nor did I see any evidence that Ponder can be an elite QB. That changed yesterday...
My biggest knock on Ponder has always been his ability to generate anything on deeper pass plays. He's all underneath, mobility, and the occasional fade route. The best QB's throw deep in's, outs, come backs, etc.
Yesterday's game did not change that opinion for me. But it did make me believe that this team can be successful without those routes if Ponder makes good accurate passes within the system and we rely on our playmakers to make big plays out of low risk attempts.
I've had a hard time explaining statistically why I thought Ponder's first two games were mediocre. Many arguments have been made regarding YAC and this and that. But I just though he "looked" mediocre. Yesterday Ponder looked stellar to my eyes, and did it against the best defense in the NFL.
His passer rating was better in the first two games than yesterday. He was in the 100s then dropped to 95 yesterday. But his QBR tells the real story. He was okay against the Jags, bad against the Colts, then awesome against the niners. (this is obviously skewed a bit by his 23 yard TD run, as QBR counts those. But hey, running is part of his game so he should get credit when he does it right).
His QBR yesterday reflects the fact that his passes traveled further in the air, he made good TD passes in 3rd and 4th down situaitons. He converted a lot of 3rd downs. He led three 80+ yard TD drives against the best defense in the business while committing zero turnovers.
My faith in Ponder is renewed. I would still really like to see more downfield to loosen up defenses (man if he could do that then he might be special). But at least we've seen evidence now that this team can be productive with this style.