The decision came easily Sunday night.
When the bottom fell completely out on the Vikings during their blowout loss in Chicago, coach Leslie Frazier did the only logical thing.
Out came starting quarterback Donovan McNabb and in went rookie Christian Ponder. In a 39-10 fourth-quarter hole, letting Ponder finally see some regular-season game action proved a prudent move at Soldier Field.
"We just wanted to get him in there, let him take some snaps and get a feel for the NFL tempo," Frazier explained after.
But on Monday, Frazier described a slightly more complicated scenario going forward, deciding to put a temporary hold on rubber-stamping the Ponder-for-McNabb change for good.
Saying he would discuss the situation with his staff the next two days, Frazier held off on naming either Ponder or McNabb the starter for Sunday's game against Green Bay. So for now, restless fans are left in a holding pattern.
"We are going to talk about a lot of things," Frazier said. "But the primary point will be what's best for our team going forward as we prepare for our next opponent."
That the undefeated Packers are coming to town certainly won't soothe Frazier's nerves as he considers his options. Throwing Ponder onto a brightly lit stage Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champions for his first start has the potential to turn ugly. But to this point, the 2011 season has been just that, with the Vikings staggering out to a 1-5 start that puts them so far out of the playoff picture, you'd need the Hubble telescope to spot them.
If building for the future is important, seeing what Ponder can offer should be a high priority at Winter Park. But Monday, Frazier still seemed reluctant to fold his hand on 2011.
"The only criteria and the only qualifier will be what's best for our team and that will be the criteria that is used when we sit down and continue these [quarterback] discussions over the next couple days," he said.
That doesn't mean Ponder won't ultimately rate ahead of McNabb. In fact, Frazier saw positive signs out of the rookie as he went 9-for-17 for 99 yards in garbage time vs. the Bears.
"For a guy who gets limited reps in practice, it seems like he had a good grasp, like we thought he would, of our offense," Frazier said.
The dangers, however, of elevating Ponder this week still exist. For starters, a lopsided loss to the Packers could significantly bruise the young quarterback's confidence.
Far more significantly, Frazier said he doesn't want to start Ponder before he's truly ready, potentially creating a scenario in which the starting quarterback slot became a revolving door between the rookie, McNabb and possibly even Joe Webb.
"You don't want to be in Week 8 or 9 and flip-flopping quarterbacks," Frazier said. "Once a decision is made, if we were to decide to go with Christian, you'd like to be able to say [definitively] that this is the way to go."
Frazier must also keep a pulse on the morale of his locker room, with a potential Ponder promotion delivering a not-so-subtle admission that hope for this year has been lost. Reality or not, that's not the kind of sentiment several of the team's key players want to embrace.
"Here's the way I look at it," defensive end Brian Robison said. "We're still in 2011 and we've got Green Bay next week. If you're looking forward to 2012, then I say you leave this locker room and come back in 2012."
Added Jared Allen: "I hope that's not the mindset. If [a quarterback change] is made, then I hope that's a decision they feel can help us win now."
Officially, the decision should come Wednesday.
At the very least, on the heels of Sunday's embarrassing loss in Chicago, the quarterback subplot creates a layer of intrigue around a team that seems listless otherwise.