You type, we type back
Vikings beat writers conduct a Live Chat at startribune.com each Tuesday at noon. Here are edited excerpts from this week’s session with Chip Scoggins:
Q: What is your take on QB Christian Ponder and how many games do you give him before you have to bench him?
A: This obviously is THE question everyone is asking this week. The Vikings and Les Frazier have shown loyalty to Ponder, but you wonder if the circumstances are different now that they have Matt Cassel as a backup. He has a track record and is a far more attractive option that Joe Webb a year ago. The other element is Frazier’s contract. He’s essentially in his final year so he can’t afford to have too much patience if Ponder continues to struggle.
Q: Is there something going on behind the scenes regarding Desmond Bishop? Marvin Mitchell didn’t make a tackle at linebacker on Sunday, and if he’s the starter against the Bears, I’ll throw something at my television.
A: Talked to Bishop [Monday] and said he’s just trying to be patient with everything. He obviously came in behind on everything with the late start and then his groin injury in camp. Bishop said he’s healthy and feels comfortable with the defense. Coach Leslie Frazier didn’t say whether Bishop will get some snaps this week. I would put him out there to see what he can give the defense.
Q: The defense looks completely lost without Kevin Williams.
A: They certainly were not as strong up the middle. A lot has been said about Williams’ decline in recent years but I still believe he can play at a high level if his snaps are managed. But the Lions had too much success running the ball up the middle. Kevin hopes to be back for Sunday’s game in Chicago.
Q: It seemed as if offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave abandoned the play calling that made Ponder a successful QB last year — gadget plays and screens to get the ball to playmakers in space. What do you think of the offensive game plan for Week 1?
A: I liked the fact that they took a few shots down the field to Jerome Simpson. If they can do that and connect on them consistently, that should open things some for Adrian Peterson. But I agree that I thought they might use Cordarrelle Patterson on some of the Percy Harvin-like plays in terms of bubble screens and reverses. We’ll see if they add some of that this week.
Q: I wish the Vikings would blitz more. I don’t believe they can rely on their front four to generate sufficient pressure and to disrupt a QB’s rhythm. I’d rather see ’em blitz more and get burned than watch opposing QBs comfortably throw for 350 to 400 yards every week.
A: Blitzing has not really been Frazier’s model. He likes to get pressure with the front four, which has been successful for them.
Q: Who not throw at Rudolph more? There isn’t a linebacker who can defend him.
A: Ponder always says that Rudolph is open even when he’s covered because he’s such a big target. I was surprised they only targeted him four times Sunday.
Q: How many things will be thrown at TVs upon the next play call having Ponder roll out to the left? Can we please pull those plays from the offense?
A: The rollout left on third-and-1 was a real head scratcher. Ponder just doesn’t look comfortable in those situations.
Q: Do you think the coaching staff should have had Ponder in preseason games longer? Obviously he needed the work, obviously you don’t want a veteran hurt for a meaningless game, but Ponder was not ready for the regular season.
A: I just don’t think the injury risk in preseason is worth giving starters and key players a lot of work. If you say you want Ponder to play, that means you need the first-team line and wide receivers to play, too. I just wouldn’t feel comfortable putting them out there and risking a significant injury for a game that doesn’t matter.