After reading the story and by then, it’s 191 comments, I felt the urge to make a comment myself. I suppose I wanted to reply and to continue a chain of comments from people knowing what they are talking about, and thus think that I also know what I’m talking about. I started Word 2010 and began to write. But after a while I noticed, that even though I had little insight to give, I sure had a lot to say. My text grew in size. It grew so large that it started to rival Favre's ego in size. In the end my intended comment couldn't continue as a comment anymore. It had to quit, just to make make a comeback here instead. Therefore I now present my fourth fanpost! You know, because there just doesn't seem to be enough irrelevant ranting clogging up the cyber space already…
Aah, but regarding Favre and comebacks. Murgo posted this excellent link to the NFL honors awards 2013 in a comment (of the KJSegall's Flacco-Ponder-article). Some excellent jokes there. Check it out if you hadn't already! Favre, Peterson and even Ponder included.
But then down to business. Concern about arm strength was raised once again (in the comments). Here's my take on the matter:
1) Christian Ponder has unimpressive arm strength in terms of propelling a football through the air with great velocity. Or in other words: Ponder’s throws lacks “zip”. The kind of zip that Kaepernick has, or Stafford, or Cuttler, or Vick, or as Favre had.
But has he enough zip and arm strength to be a good, great or even elite quarterback? Sure. It’s certainly nice to have, a “fastball of a football throw”. I do actually admire arm strength, as evident in some of my recent comments regarding Kaepernick’s arm. But vastly more important than arm strength, in terms of continuing a baseball analogue, is your location. Miles per hours don’t help much – if you can locate. It’s more about where you put the ball, and when you put it there, not how fast the ball travels through the air (although the later helps).
2) Still it’s nice to have some zip, but with good mechanics one can compensate the lack of it. Enter evidence: Tom Brady. I watched a document of him a long time ago and one of the things I remember best is how awfully he ran the 40 dash and how unimpressive his bare upper body looked in the combine. For graphical evidence please google image search: “tom brady combine”. Be warned though: it is not a pretty picture. For something pretty I’d rather suggest: “tom brady's wife + bikini”, but that’s a bit off topic I guess. Nevertheless here is the first picture that search yields:
But let’s get back on track: I remember Brady being awful out of College. I also remember that he didn't have what one would call "elite arm". I found this scouting reporting floating around the internet in several places. The original source eludes me, but the report seem to fit my perception of young mr Brady (and the fact that he wasn't drafted until in the 6th round):
“Notes: Baseball catcher and football quarterback in high school who was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 18th round of the June 1995 baseball draft. Opted for football and redshirted at Michigan in ’95. Saw limited action in ’96 and ’97 and started the past two years. Completed 3 of 5 passes for 26 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in ’96, 12-15-103-0-0 in ’97, 214-350-2,636-15-12 in ’98 and 180-295-2,216-16-6 in ’99, when he often shared time with super sophomore Drew Henson. Went all the way against Alabama in the Orange Bowl and completed 34-46-369-4. Unlike many Michigan quarterbacks, Brady is a pocket-type passer who plays best in a dropback-type system.
Tom Brady Positives: Good height to see the field. Very poised and composed. Smart and alert. Can read coverages. Good accuracy and touch. Produces in big spots and in big games. Has some Brian Griese in him and is a gamer. Generally plays within himself. Team leader.
Negatives: Poor build. Very skinny and narrow. Ended the ’99 season weighing 195 pounds and still looks like a rail at 211. Looks a little frail and lacks great physical stature and strength. Can get pushed down more easily than you’d like. Lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush. Lacks a really strong arm. Can’t drive the ball down the field and does not throw a really tight spiral. System-type player who can get exposed if he must ad-lib and do things on his own.
Summary: Is not what you’re looking for in terms of physical stature, strength, arm strength and mobility, but he has the intangibles and production and showed great Griese-like improvement as a senior. Could make it in the right system but will not be for everyone.”
What the report has to say about Brady’s army strength, basically “no zip”. But how about his career? Brady managed pretty well with his unimpressive arm, didn’t he? He sure did, but he also fixed his mechanics! And after he fixed the mechanics, he refined it a bit more. When it seemed that he mechanics where good and refined and all , the he glanced to his shoulder and saw there a chip. That chip said to him “you’re not good enough, practice some more”. And he did. He still can’t flick the ball effortlessly just with his hand as Vick can, or Stafford can. But when he plants his feet, and goes through that classical and text book throwing motion, then the ball sure leaves his hands pretty well, doesn’t it?
That is what Ponder needs. Mechanics. No need for endless discussions about his arm strength. Ponder needs to watch footage on Brady. No, not the combine-bare-upper-body-footage, but the video footage of his throwing mechanics and the footwork especially. Then Ponder’s needs to emulate, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat ad nauseam. With the mechanics come a little more velocity, but more importantly accuracy and consistency to put the ball where it needs to be put!
3) To complement and continue the above point I'll say this: Tom Brady’s wife, as his throwing motion, is a thing of beauty. Ponder got himself a beautiful wife:
Let’s hope he’ll get his throwing mechanics together as well!
4) Some evidence regarding arm strength and good quarterbacking: enter Joe Webb. I’m sure that no one wants do to over analyze this piece of evidence, the recent catastrophe that ended the Viking’s post season in mind. Let’s just say: that an excellent arm doesn’t mean excellent quarterbacking. And the world does seem to be filled with great QB prospects with cannons instead of arms – and still they didn’t make it in the NFL. Ryan Leaf and Kyle Boller comes to my mind. An excellent arm is an great asset put not a prerequisite for being a great quarterback!
So let’s give Ponder some time and lets hope that he uses that time improving his mechanics!
Then to the comments about Ponder not playing hurt and his injury proneness, and what I have to say about that:
1) I can’t imagine the decision not to play in the postseason against the Packers being in Ponder’s hands. He’s no living legend a la Favre. Ponder is barely a starter. He can’t go up to Frazier and say “Yeah, I’m hurting a bit and perhaps not able to perform up to my 100 %, but still 70 % percent of me is better than the next guy on the roster. I’m sure that Frazier felt that Webb would be our best chance for a victory, Ponder’s hand being impaired and all. Therefore Webb started.
By the above same logic Peterson started game 1 this season. He could go up and say to Fraizer “I’m not a 100 % percent, and I still have some scar tissue in the knee cracking and popping every now and then, but I'm still better than anyone else in the NFL”.
2) About pain tolerance. Ponder banged his hand against a helmet early in the previous match against the Packers. That bang later on caused plenty of bruising and apparently enough to physically impair his range of arm motion. That kind of bang must have hurt like a mot… ehrm… very much indeed. But that was just pain. That pain he handled pretty well. So well, that he had the best game ever in his NFL career.
3) Ponder’s injury proneness. I think that he has been hurt more than an average QB in his college and NFL career so far. So questions about his injury proneness is very understandable indeed. But they are just that, questions. With such a small sample size, it’s impossible to say what is this elusive “injury proneness”, what is bad luck, what is lacking pain tolerance, and what is the coach saying who gives the team a better chance to win. Only time will tell.
To those words it seems appropriate to end this rant. Regarding Ponder, only time will tell.
Disclaimer. The writer of this text is born in Sweden, lives in Finland, and has as much real American football knowledge as a coach potato can get. Not much that is. The lack in text quality, the numeral weirdly structured sentences, and the inappropriate language can be due to a certain language barrier. Any erroneous comment or stupid remark is most definitely due to a language barrier and not the fact that the writer don’t’ know what he is talking about. ;)