Fearless Leader and I were Google chatting earlier, and we've pretty much come to the conclusion that we can no longer defend the play of Christian Ponder. He already alluded to it in his post game recap, and damn if you people haven't burned DN down over it.
I really hate writing that, because I like this kid. I thought he's shown promise, but it's become apparent over the last four or five weeks that he is regressing in way not seen since Charlie in Flowers For Algernon.
Only, Ponder never made it to the genius level. He was on his way, and then...Flowers for Algernon.
This team gives off an eery vibe of the 2008 Vikings--good defense, good offensive line, good running game, but the passing game, yikes. Oh, passing game. It's like you've gone into witness protection.
I compared Ponder to the last quarterback we liked to beat about the head and shoulders around these parts, Tarvaris Jackson. Ponder has had 22 starts, Jackson had 20 starts while in Minnesota. Stats for comparison are just from Jackson's starts in Minnesota:
Passing yards: 3,984 vs. 4086.
Touchdown passes/Interceptions: 24/22 vs. 26/22
Completion percentage: 58.7 vs 59.4
Passer rating: 76.6 vs 76.7
Kids, look at these stats, because they don't lie. We have got another Tarvaris Jackson situation on our hands. Oh, Jackson's numbers are on the left, Ponder's are on the right.
They're virtually identical.
So, what do we do about it? I don't know. I keep telling myself that Ponder is young and he'll get it, and I really hope he does. But then I see a kid like Russell Wilson, Seattle's third round rookie QB, making plays and giving a fan base hope. I'm not sure I have hope with Ponder anymore. I mean, if he was going to get it, wouldn't it have come by now? I don't know.
This isn't all on him--the Vikings receivers are below league average, but I saw several times today that guys like Jarius Wright and Michael Jenkins were open, and Ponder didn't throw it to them. One in particular was a wide open Wright early in the game. Also, red zone interceptions.
Does this mean I think Joe Webb is the long term answer at QB? No, I don't. But as bad as Ponder was struggling today, you can't tell me that Webb would have done worse. The Vikings needed a spark, and it wasn't coming from the starting quarterback. Webb might have flamed out, too, but maybe not.
This was a winnable game, one the Vikings let slip through their fingers. It made me want to listen to 1980's big hair band ballads and weep for lost high school love, and a franchise quarterback. Because at this point in my life, they're both one in the same. So of course, I reached for Night Ranger:
QB Christian, oh the time has come
And you know that you're the only one
To say okay
Where you goin' what you lookin' for
You know those fans
Don't want to play no more with you
What's your price for flight?
Your 'let's get drunk and wonder what might've been if I had only me and (name redacted) hadn't broken up in high school' SMR. Let's just not open a vein doing so, kids.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Adrian Peterson, RB: Absolute stud. With each passing year, I feel like AP is becoming this generation's Barry Sanders. Phenomenal talent on mostly bad and mediocre teams, talent wasting away. It's a shame.
Chad Greenway, LB: Greenway is quietly having a phenomenal year. His pass coverage skills have gotten better, and next to Antoine Winfield, he's the best tackler on the team.
Harrison Smith, S: Had a nice pick of Aaron Rodgers, and did a pretty good job in run support. This was a good pick by Rick Spielman.
Kyle Rudolph, TE: It's a good thing he can make ridiculous one handed catches and haul in TD's in triple coverage, because he's the only guy Ponder throws to on a regular basis. This was another good pick by Rick Spielman.
A.J. Jefferson, CB: He was punked so much today I thought Ashton Kucher was going to run out on to the field yelling 'DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE YOU BEEN PUNKED AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA'. But he didn't. Sigh...
Christian Ponder, QB: Two red zone picks that were just back breaking were just the tip of the iceberg. And they weren't tips or deflections off receivers' hands--they were terrible, terrible throws. He had 5 completions on the Vikes first TD drive in the second quarter...and didn't have one again until the fourth. The first completion to a wide receiver was in garbage time in the fourth quarter. It was a combination of Spergeon Wynn and Donovan McNabb. Hint: THATS A TERRIBLE AWFUL NO GOOD VERY BAD COMBINATION. So far, not a good pick by Rick Spielman.
Buy: Kyle Rudolph's sick one handed catch. Seriously, did you see that? Behind his back, with his left hand, for a first down. Ree-damn-dick-uh-lus.
Sell: Kyle Rudolph being the only guy Christian Ponder throws to. Terrible.
Buy: Everything Adrian Peterson does. His running is unreal, and had Ponder not horribly underthrown a long ball in the third quarter he would've had a long TD pass reception, too.
Sell: Christian Ponder horribly underthrowing AP on that wheel route. My Dad and I actually LAUGHED OUT LOUD because Ponder's mechanics on that throw literally TICKLED OUR FUNNY BONE. Seriously, throwing across your body, off your back foot to the opposite side of the field? Only Brett Favre could've made that throw. Except in the NFC Championship against the Saints. BECAUSE IT'S THE VIKINGS THAT'S WHY. Of course, Ponder was picked off, too. This time against Green Bay, which is almost as bad.
Buy: The play of the defense for most of the game. Look, they played well, for the most part. Aaron Rodgers had a good game, but not an out of this world one. It's tough to keep Green Bay off the scoreboard when their offense is on the field because your offense can't stay on it.
Sell: The offense not being able to sustain a drive when they need to. When the Vikes really needed the offense to step up and put together a drive in the second half, Ponder threw a pick in the end zone on their first possession. Green Bay went 12 plays and kicked a field goal. Vikes go three and out and take 45 seconds of game time off the clock. Rodgers throws a pick on a great play by Smith at the Vikes 4 or 5. Vikes? Three and out. Packers get the ball at midfield after the punt and three plays later they're in the end zone. The Vikings defense was gassed, and the game was pretty much over at that point. Ponder threw his second red zone pick on their next possession, and then Green Bay went on their epic 18 play drive to end the game.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week
"I wish I could've been terrible at my job and not gotten fired. Would've made my life a whole helluva lot easier."
Don't we all, Dad. Don't we all.
Well, 6-6 and two straight division losses pretty much puts the nail in the coffin for the Vikings and the playoffs in 2012. The frustrating thing about today is that this was a game that Minnesota could have won, if only they had made a couple more plays. Not big plays, because AP took care of that in spades. No, simple plays, like completing a pass or two sometime between the second and late fourth quarters. But they didn't, and they lost in another frustrating fashion.
If Ponder stinks again next week, play Spider Man. There, I said it.