clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Christian Ponder Splits Against Green Bay

New, comments

if Teddy Bridgewater can't give it a go tonight, the Vikings will turn to backup Christian Ponder. Let's look at some home and road splits for Ponder against the Packers

Jonathan Daniel

Christian Ponder.

The name evokes a lot of passion among Vikings fans, and most of it has turned negative. We know the story--2011 first rounder, took over for Donovan McBouncepass on an ugly Sunday night game in Chicago, and was the Vikings starting quarterback through a good portion of last season. Until he was replaced by Matt Cassel. Who was then replaced by Josh Freeman. Who was then replaced by Ponder again, I think. Who was then replaced by Cassel again.

Man, 2013 sucked.

As 2014 unfolded, Ponder was quickly passed on the depth chart by both Matt Cassel and first round pick Teddy Bridgewater, and there was a fair amount of speculation that Ponder might be traded before the season opener. He wasn't, obviously, and because of injuries to both Cassel and Bridgewater, it looks like Ponder might make his first start of the year against Green Bay, in Lambeau, on national television.

Against the Green Bay Packers, we see Ponder's career essentially in a nutshell--moments and games where you thought he might be pretty good against a backdrop that makes you shake your head and wonder what the Vikings were thinking taking him in the first round. Overall, his career mark against the Packers is 1-5-1, going 0-2-1 on the road. Let's take a look at his home and road splits.

Home:

Home

Att

Comp

Comp %

Yards

TD

INT

Yds/Att

Rating

Result

2011

32

13

41

219

2

2

5.82

59.2

L

2012

28

16

57

234

3

0

8.36

120.2

W

2013

21

14

67

145

0

0

6.90

86.4

L

Total

81

43

53

598

5

2

7.38

1-2

Road:

Road

Att

Comp

Comp %

Yards

TD

INT

Yds/Att

Rating

Result

2011

34

16

47

190

0

1

5.59

52.3

L

2012

25

12

48

119

1

2

4.76

41.9

L

2013

30

21

70

233

1

0

7.77

103.9

T

Total

89

49

55

542

2

3

6.08

0-2-1

The two games that stand out the most to me are the 2012 games. His road game seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back for a lot of people on Ponder, and his future as a long term starter as the Vikings quarterback. At least it was for me. The Vikings lost what was a winnable game on the road, due in large part to Ponder being unable to complete a pass for the entirety of two full NFL quarters. Continual three and outs eventually gassed the defense, and Green Bay ultimately won the game 23-14.

But his season ending game that same year, less than a month later, seemed to be his Great Redemption, and the moment where the Ponder bandwagon seemed to fill back up. He had a career high 120.2 passer rating and tied a career high in touchdown passes as he played his best game as a pro. The Vikings won that game 37-34 and earned a wildcard playoff bid. But with the good comes the bad with Ponder, like it always seemingly does. he was injured in that 2012 home game against the Packers, and in the playoff game against the Pack the next weekend he couldn't go, and an ill-prepared Joe Webb was unable to guide the Vikings to a win.

There are some interesting things to note in Ponder's home and road splits against Green Bay.  He has more attempts, completions, and yards on the road, but his average yards per attempt are a full yard lower. He has a better than 2:1 TD/INT ratio at home, but it's less than 1:1 on the road.

Simply put, he's a better passer at home against Green Bay than on the road, and he's had two of his worst games as a pro in Lambeau Field. With the game expected to be played in some pretty heavy rain, though, those conditions would seem to give the Vikings a substantial edge running the ball, regardless of who plays quarterback. Minnesota finally got their running game untracked last week due to largely two things-- a good, almost 50/50 split of carries between Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, and a healthy does of some read option plays that Bridgewater executed well. Green Bay hasn't had nearly as much success running the ball this year, and if they can limit Eddie Lacy early in the game and force Green Bay into the air under those conditions, they might actually have a slim advantage.

MAYBE.

If there is a category where Ponder has a legitimate edge over Bridgewater, it's running the ball, especially when you consider that Bridgewater has a bad ankle. The Vikings, if they go with Ponder, will probably have a game plan, at least running the ball, similar to what they had last week. A healthy split between Asiata and McKinnon, pound the ball between the tackles and right at Letroy Guion, and some read option plays for Ponder.

I'll freely admit the chances of the Vikings winning the game got longer if Ponder plays in place of Teddy. And Ponder hasn't been very good in three career games at Lambeau; in fact, he's been pretty awful in two of them. But the weather is playing to Minnesota's advantage tonight, and if Ponder does start, and he can play mistake free football, and the Vikings can establish a running game...yeah, this might be doable.