FanPost

What Must Ponder Do in 2013?

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via www.tchuddle.com

It's not a controversial statement to say that Christian Ponder had an up and down 2012 season. Most fans would agree that Ponder started off the 2012 season in excellent fashion leading the team to a 3-1 start. Then the wheels came off and he had a spectacular crash and burn in the mid-point of the season. But Ponder rallied in an amazing playoff push with 4 consecutive wins to close out the regular season. In fact, GM Rick Spielman has been quoted as saying, "I give him just as much credit for getting us in the playoffs as Adrian." I don't know if I'd go that far in assigning credit, but I am hopeful that Ponder can continue his excellent play into the 2013 season. It might be over-simplifying to describe the season that way, as it ignores at least one great game from Ponder midseason (Detroit week 11 for example). Ponder actually played well in week 5 against Tennessee too, and while it was a win in week 14 against Chicago, Ponder didn't have the best of games statistically. But for all practical purposes, that storyline works to describe the 2012 season and Christian Ponder.

So if you buy that storyline, then Ponder's 2012 season can really be split into two halves. You have the two 4-week bookends to the season (where Ponder went 7-1), and then you have the 8 games in the middle (where Ponder went 3-5). So I thought I'd separate out those two halves and do some stat comparisons. The results should not be too surprising.

Bookend Half of 2012 (Weeks 1-4 and 14-17)

"Good Ponder"

Atts

Comps

Comp %

Yards

Yds/Gm

Avg

TDs

INTs

Rat

QBR*

Wins

8 Games

222

144

0.648

1454

182

6.5

8

1

93.56

70.28

7

16 Game Proj.

444

288

0.648

2908

182

6.5

16

2

93.56

70.28

14

Slump Half of 2012 (Weeks 5-13)

"Bad Ponder"

Atts

Comps

Comp %

Yards

Yds/Gm

Avg

TDs

INTs

Rat

QBR*

Wins

8 Games

261

156

0.598

1481

185

5.7

10

11

70.74

32.78

3

16 Game Proj.

522

312

0.598

2962

185

5.7

20

22

70.74

32.78

6

First off, a couple of things jump out at me in comparing the two halves. Ponder's yards per game stat and TD stat are pretty much the same, which is kind of surprising. But, the main differences are the number of attempts, completion percentage, average per attempt and interceptions...oh, and of course wins. During the slump part of the year Ponder actually threw the ball MORE than he did during the bookend part, but he was far less effective with his throws. His QB Rating and QBR numbers also show that he was a better QB during the bookend half of the season. If "Bad Ponder" had played the entire season, we might be looking at a new starting QB for 2012. But the fact is, even "Good Ponder" wasn't a world beater. His numbers are good, don't get me wrong, but they aren't "elite" in the same way that Brady, Rodgers and Brees are "elite". That said, I'll take a 16-2 TD/INT ratio with a 64% completion rate and 14 wins any season at the QB position. His average per attempt and total yards are a little disheartening though, which is why he can't be called "elite". But really, comparing the two tables proves the point that Ponder had an up and down year in 2012.

So that takes me back to the my original question posed by the title. What must Ponder do in 2013? Well, the answer should be pretty straightforward: continue to play like he did to start and finish 2012. If he can maintain that level of play during the entire 2013 season, with a high completion percentage and little to no interceptions, then we could witness the coming out season of Christian Ponder. And with his new receiving targets in Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, he should have an easier time getting the ball down the field to increase his yards. But should he regress back to his mid-season slump form of 2012 where he was inaccurate and turning the ball over, then we will most assuredly be looking for a new QB in 2014.

Over at ESPN, Seifert shared this bit of QBR analysis which shows that a QB like Aaron Rodgers has essentially contributed 3 wins to the Packers on average each year with a career average QBR of 70, while Ponder has contributed 1 loss with a QBR career average of 45. The analysis shows that if the average is over 50 (a rating of an "average" QB), then a QB contributes positively to the "wins above average". Say what you will about the QBR metric, but if you take this analysis and apply it to the two charts above, you can again see that if we had "Good Ponder" for the whole season, he would contribute 3 wins above average like Aaron Rodgers, while if we had "Bad Ponder" for the whole season, then he would contribute about 2.5 losses for the whole season.

Many analysts have already been saying that this is a make or break year for Christian Ponder, and I have to agree. He's going to have to step it up in 2013 and show that he can consistently play at a high level. I think he's shown that he can play at a high level, and hopefully we'll see more "Good Ponder" in 2013 than bad. What do you think?

*Since ESPN's QBR formula is unavailable, this number is an estimate, which is simply an 8-game average of Ponder's actual QBR.

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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