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By now, if you're an addicted Vikings fan, like myself, you have heard the reports of Rick Speilman stating to NFL Network that Christian Ponder was as important to the Minnesota Vikings run to the playoffs last year, as the MVP, Adrian Peterson. This report has inspired me to create a new article in theVikingsScoop's In-Depth Series. Does the bold declaration hold any water or was Speilman simply blowing stem up our arses?
Although I'm not sold on Christian Ponder being our franchise quarterback, just yet, I tend to agree with Speilman. Lets see. During the Minnesota Vikings 5-3 start to the 2012 NFL season, Adrian Peterson had rushed for 100yards+ only 3 out of 8 games, however Peterson ran for an average under 4.0yds/carry only 2 times during that stretch. Beginning the year, the Vikings were bringing Peterson along slowly, because after all he was just coming off of a season ending injury the previous year. During those 8 games to begin the season, Adrian Peterson only ran the ball 20+ times 4 out of the 8 games. I bring up these stats to say that the Vikings weren't the threat running the ball at the beginning of the year, that they were at the end of the year. Although, the potential was there. Since the Vikings running threat wasn't as destructive to begin the year, the quarterback had to have his value involved.
If I shall remind you, Christian Ponder was the last quarterback in the league to throw his first interception last year, although some could argue that a few interceptions were dropped. During the first 8 games, which Adrian Peterson wasn't yet at his best, Christian Ponder only completed less than 60% of his passes 2 games out of 8. (Against TB and ARZ). Christian Ponder however did go 5 weeks straight throwing at least 1 interception, during the middle of the season. But that was when Adrian Peterson had started to arrive. Lets focus back on the first half of the season. During the first 8 games, Christian Ponder attempted more passes than Peterson did rushes, 7 out of the 8 weeks.
- Week 1: 10 more attempts passing than Peterson attempted rushing.
- Week 2: 19 more attempts passing than Peterson attempted rushing.
- Week 3: 10 more attempts passing than Peterson attempted rushing.
- Week 4: 5 more attempts passing than Peterson attempted rushing.
- Week 5: 18 more attempts passing than Peterson attempted rushing.
- Week 6: 35 more attempts passing than Peterson attempted rushing.
- Week 7: 6 less attempts passing than Peterson attempted rushing.
- Week 8: 20 more attempts passing than Peterson attempted rushing.
Looking at these numbers, the Vikings heavily relied on Christian Ponder passing the ball moreso than some may have thought originally. Christian Ponder threw the ball 10+ more times than Peterson rushed it 6 out of the first 8 weeks. Also during the 8 week stretch, Christian Ponder more than doubled the touchdowns Adrian Peterson had accumulated. Christian Ponder also posted a QBR of 80 or higher 5 out of the first 8 weeks. This should tell you , that the Vikings were relying on the pass more than the run to start the season, and also that Christian Ponder was indeed quite efficient. Moreso than Adrian Peterson, Christian Ponder led the Vikings to 5-3 to begin the 2012 NFL season. I remind you, this is a Ponder vs. Peterson evaluation of the start of the 2012 season, not Ponder vs. Harvin.
Christian Ponder's middle of the season performances were forgettable and not even worth for much input, but an interesting thing I discovered were that the Vikings loss more games that Ponder was bad in, than the ones Adrian Peterson were average or bad in. This can cause one to understand that Ponder's performances, as crazy as this sounds, were indeed more important to Minnesota's chances of victory last year.
After Ponder had presumingly gotten over his horrible slump, the Vikings started winning again. This isn't to belittle Peterson's greatness and all that he did, but I don't find it a coincidence that when Ponder showed up, the Vikings won games and when he didn't we loss. Fortunately, Christian Ponder showed up for the final 4 games of the season, each a must win for the Minnesota Vikings. Each team the Vikings faced during that 4 game stretch to end the season, were playoff contending teams. Long and behold, Christian Ponder put up the 2nd best QBR(86.8) in the final four games of the season, and set the Vikings up for field goal position with a crucial 3rd and 11 completion to Michael Jenkins against the Green Bay Packers in the last seconds of the last game of the season. Interesting enough, Adrian Peterson put the Vikings in even better field goal position the very next play. I found those final few plays a symbol of the Minnesota Vikings' season last year. Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder relied on each other throughout the season. During the first 8 games, Ponder took the reins of the team, and the final 8 weeks, Peterson was the workhorse warrior that he is. One thing's for sure, Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder couldn't had done it without one another. If the whole Joe Webb thing was any indication, the Vikings were pretty reliant on their quarterback, Christian Ponder.
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 <em>community</em>, that view is no less important.