Christian Ponder's recent struggles -- the Vikings quarterback has five interceptions in the past three games -- were a topic of discussion at coach Leslie Frazier's news conference Friday, a day after the team's 36-17 loss to Tampa Bay.
"He's actually doing some things that you like to see," Frazier said. "But, at the same time, you know that you're working with a guy that's in his second season. There are going to be some ups and downs, and sometimes during the course of the game.
"The good thing about Christian is he's shown the ability to make those corrections as we go. But we have to make sure we're getting everybody on the offense to play up to the standards we're asking and not make it all about the quarterback."
Frazier would like the offense to do a better job of picking up blitzes and keeping Ponder more comfortable in the pocket.
"We're going to work extensively on blitz pickup because I'm sure that other people will see what happened [Thursday] night," Frazier said. "That's probably the blueprint - put a lot of pressure, some extra guys in the box and make the offensive line have to adjust and the quarterback throw on the run a little bit."
Ponder took blame Thursday night, saying, "I definitely have to play better. I don't think I'm playing as well as I should, or can. Defenses are always going to be scheming against us. We have to make adjustments, and we will make adjustments. [Offensive coordinator Bill] Musgrave comes up with a great game plan; we just have to play better. It comes down to me. I have to play better, I think that's obvious to everyone."
Frazier said he would not consider benching Ponder, even for a few series, if his struggles were to continue.
"Barring injury, Christian's going to be fine," Frazier said. "We have complete confidence that he's going to do a good job for us. We'll keep working as a group to improve as a whole."Another step
Adrian Peterson's 64-yard touchdown run in the third quarter Thursday night enabled him to pass the 100-yard mark for the second consecutive game.
The NFL's leading rusher (775 yards) is still hearing questions about whether he has completely recovered from left knee surgery nearly 10 months ago.
"I am over 100 percent, I am trying to get to 200 percent," he said, sarcastically.
But seriously, Peterson said he felt better than he did last year. "But I still have room to improve," he said.Where is Rudolph?
Earlier this season, tight end Kyle Rudolph was described as Ponder's security blanket. But in the past two games, Rudolph only has two catches for 17 yards.
Frazier said Tampa free safety Ronde Barber did a good job on Rudolph.
"But sometimes it's more what we're trying to do, trying to get the ball to other people and understanding what we're trying to do from an offensive standpoint," Frazier said. "It's not so much what other teams are doing to take him away. What they did, it made a difference. But it allowed us to get the ball to other people. We just weren't always as successful doing that."Clear decision
The Vikings trailed 30-17 with less than 12 minutes left in the game when Tampa Bay was called for holding on a second-and-10 incompletion. Frazier declined the penalty. On the ensuing third-and-10 play, Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman completed a 34-yard pass to receiver Mike Williams. The Bucs eventually scored to go ahead 36-17.
"Third-and-10, with the time on the clock, believing you can get off on third-and-10 and get the ball back," Frazier said. "We needed the ball."