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The Kids Are Alright

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I know that our favorite team found yet another new and creative way to rip our hearts out. You would think that a three-point lead with three minutes left in the game would be a relatively advantageous situation. But, when you're playing the 2011 Denver Broncos, that just means they have you right where they want you.

We lost one that we probably should have won, and we lost it in a way that we shouldn't have lost it. After all, this was supposed to be the one team that couldn't just rip our secondary to shreds at will like so many other teams have. This is a power running team, and that's supposed to play into our defense's strength. But, Tim Tebow. . .as is his wont. . .made the plays when he had to, and our secondary failed to recognize that Demaryius Thomas plays for the Denver Broncos after all. Seriously, to allow a guy to average 26 36 yards/catch (bad math on my part in the initial post) is just embarrassing, but that's what Thomas did to the Vikings this afternoon.

And yet, after Matt Prater hit that chip shot field goal, I didn't find myself nearly as disappointed as I figured I would be. Why? Because this team took on a very good Denver defense without their most dangerous offensive player in Adrian Peterson (or second most dangerous, if Percy Harvin keeps up the way he's been going lately), and got a lot of outstanding performances from guys that could be a part of this team for a long time to come.

Yes, folks, the kids are alright.

I don't mind other guys dancing with my girl
That's fine, I know them all pretty well
But I know sometimes I must get out in the light
Better leave her behind with the kids, they're alright
The kids are alright

We have to start with Christian Ponder. For the majority of the game, Ponder played a pretty damn good game of football. After all, the Vikings dropped him back to pass 50 times (47 pass attempts and three times that he got sacked). That's an insane amount of passes for a rookie, and Ponder spent a good portion of the first half getting slammed. . .so much so that during one of the Broncos' offensive possessions, he put on extra padding on the sidelines. He clearly wasn't 100%, and despite all of that, he stood in there and he kept firing and kept firing.

Did he throw a couple of terrible passes? Yeah, he most certainly did. But again, that's going to happen with a rookie quarterback. I think some of us have forgotten what it's like to have a young signal caller behind center. The last young quarterback that this team started was Daunte Culpepper, and in his first season as a starter (after a full year of sitting on the bench, mind you), he still threw 16 interceptions. . .and he was throwing to Randy Moss and Cris Carter (among others) and playing behind an outstanding offensive line. Rookie quarterbacks are going to make bad throws, folks, there's no way around that. Two ill-timed throws from Christian Ponder shouldn't completely negate the fact that he, by and large, played an outstanding game.

To illustrate this, let me give you the statistics for four quarterbacks from their rookie seasons.

Games Completions Attempts Comp % Yards TD INT QB Rating
Quarterback A 11 155 293 52.9 1,749 9 18 55.7
Quarterback B 16 326 575 56.7 3,739 26 28 71.2
Quarterback C 3 9 16 56.3 65 0 1 39.8
Quarterback D 10 187 332 56.3 2,372 15 13 77.5

Okay. . .who are these guys? Let me tell you.

Quarterback A is Troy Aikman, who went 0-11 as a rookie starting quarterback and just got killed as the Dallas Cowboys went on to a 1-15 season overall.

Quarterback B is Peyton Manning, who went 3-13 as a rookie starting quarterback with the Indianapolis Colts.

Quarterback C is Aaron Rodgers, who was so awesome coming out of college he sat for three years behind a guy who, allegedly, didn't do anything for 16 years other than suck and throw interceptions and lose football games.

Quarterback D. . .is a projection of Christian Ponder for this season based on what he's done thus far as a starter.

Honestly, get this guy an offensive line that won't get him killed and a real deep threat, put Adrian Peterson back behind him in the backfield, and this offense is going to be fine.

But that's not to say that there isn't going to be talent developing around him, because clearly there will be. I'm running out of superlatives to describe Percy Harvin. Honestly, if he's not the most dangerous open field runner in the league, he's on the short list. But we expect that from Harvin. You know what we don't expect?

We don't expect six catches and 90 yards from Devin Aromashodu. We don't expect 21 carries for 91 yards from Toby Gerhart. We don't expect Stephen Burton, a seventh-round pick up from the practice squad that was supposed to be a project, to be making big catches on third downs and moving the chains.

And Kyle Rudolph? Seriously, what the heck else do I have to say about this guy other than "Why on earth is he only being targeted a few times a game?" Look at this.

There are a lot of other things to talk about concerning this game, and I realize that a lot of it is going to fall on the negative side of the ledger. But I wanted to remind everyone that, although this season has been a little rough and we're already looking forward to the 2012 NFL Draft. . .

The kids are alright. Yep. . .the kids are alright.