Christian Ponder is heavily criticized in the NFL. Some of that is warranted but, not all of it. Most of this has stemmed from a disappointing rookie year and the fact that he was selected early in the first round. Lets look at some of the numbers.
If you read any article on the Vikings the one name that is always brought up as a reason for pessimism is Christian Ponder, but is it fair? Most do not see Ponder as a starting QB, not even as a game manager. While I do not think Ponder can be a pro bowl QB who will lead his teams to the playoffs by himself, I think he can be a very good game manager who can step it up when he is needed.
To begin my defense, he is not a QB who turns the ball over.He was the last starting QB to throw an INT last season. Only 5 QB's started all 16 games like Ponder and threw less INT's. Those QB's were Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco, Russel Wilson, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers. Thats not bad for a guy who isn't a focal point of the offense. Also look at the numbers when he threw his multiple INTS, VS. TEN 2 INT's and 71.4% completion, @WAS 2 INT's 67.3%, VS. ARI 2 INT's 47.1%, @GB 2 INT's 48% completion. 48% is bad, but not horrid, and so is 47.1%, but the 71.4% and 67.3% are great numbers and he was on those games. Look at the teams who managed to pick him off (rankings for INT's): ARI (2nd in NFL), WAS (3rd in NFL), GB (8th in NFL), CHI (1st in NFL), TB (8th in NFL), SEA (8th in the NFL), TEN (7th in the NFL). All his INT's came from teams ranked in the top 8 of the NFL in INT's! Thats a good sign for the future.
Another positive stat for Christian Ponder is his completion percentage. In his first full season starting Ponder completed 62.1% of his passes, and while those numbers may be inflated a bit, he played to his strengths and finished 13th in the NFL in completion percentage. Thats not bad at all.
Ponder also has the ability step up when he is needed. Adrian Peterson "struggled" his way to 86 yards against SF. In that same game, Ponder lead the offense completing 60% of his passes, for 198 yards, 2 TD's and 0INT's. He also added 7 rushes for 33 yards and a 23 yard TD run. This game highlighted his high athletic ability, and his great touch and feel for his passes. He also had one of the best plays of his seasons on a naked bootleg from the 1 yard line in which while backpedaling, with defenders baring down on him threw a great pass to Rudolph who made the easy catch. This play was 4th and goal from the 1, and they trusted Ponder, not AD. He also stepped up his games in week 14-17, especially week 17 vs the Packers (57.1% completion, 3TD's 0INT's, and 234 yards) as he helped guide the Vikes to the playoffs. Many fans also point to the game @HOU as another game where Adrian Peterson "struggled" and Ponder stepped up.
Overall, Ponder is a QB who definitely takes care of the ball, and only teams who were especially good at intercepting the ball last season were able to intercept passes from Ponder. He is also able to play to his strengths and complete a high level of play. Lastly, Ponder steps up when his team needs him to. He may not be a pro bowl QB, and may not be what you want from a 12th overall draft pick in a draft, but he is a solid option as a game managing QB.
Video courtesy of NFL.com