With all of the controversy among the media regarding Christian Ponder’s ability to do the job as Vikings quarterback, new offensive coordinator Norv Turner was asked his opinion of the 2011 first-round draft pick.
“The hard thing in this league is you can be playing good and doing a lot of good things and at that position, if you have a negative play or a sack, fumble or interception, a play like that at the wrong time, it takes away all of the good things you’ve done,” Turner said. “I’ve been impressed with Christian and the things he does in terms of his movement. He moves extremely well on the run. He’s made a lot of big plays. The starting point with any quarterback to me is eliminating those [bad] plays. That would be one of our starting points.”
Turner was asked if he believes an offense can succeed without an elite QB.
“The guys I have been around that are so-called franchise quarterbacks, weren’t considered franchise quarterbacks until they started winning,” Turner said. “You have to get a guy in that everyone believes in and you start out and put good people around him and find out how far you can go.
“But you know I was with Brad Johnson in Washington and we went to the playoffs, won the division, and people were convinced he couldn’t win a Super Bowl and we let him go to Tampa and the next year he won the Super Bowl. So I think you get a really good player and you give him a really good team and you find out how far you can go.”
There has been a lot of speculation that the Vikings need to take a quarterback in the draft this year, maybe even using their first-round pick at No. 8 on the position.
“I don’t have the answer for questions like that,” Turner said when asked about drafting a quarterback early. “I’m sure [General Manager] Rick [Spielman] and [coach] Mike [Zimmer] have been talking about it a lot.”
He then referenced Russell Wilson’s victory for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, saying: “One thing that has been proven, and all you have to do is go back to Sunday’s game, is quarterbacks come from lots of different spots. A third-rounder wins the Super Bowl and there’s some pretty good players that weren’t drafted high. I think everyone is in agreement that we’re trying to add a young quarterback to this organization. You just have to make sure it’s a good one wherever you get him.”
Turner also said he believes the most important thing for a QB is getting time to grow.
“No question, it’s a tough position and there’s some guys that get put in a unique situation and have success right away,” he said. “There’s not a lot of them. Most guys it’s a process and there’s some struggles along the way to becoming the player they want to become.”
Judging from this conversation, you get the impression that Turner is at least willing to give Ponder an opportunity to see if he can do the job for the Vikings.
Owner Glen Taylor said he expected a lot more victories from his Timberwolves when the season started.
“I’m disappointed. My expectations was that we would have a better record at this particular time,” Taylor said. “We’ve all seen that we’ve just lost way too many close games, and that’s disappointing that we can’t finish off games.”
The 98-91 loss at New Orleans on Friday was another game where the Wolves had a large fourth-quarter lead only to lose.
“We’ve had times when we’ve just played terrifically and also in games where we’ve had quarters that we played really just almost like perfect, and then we just have had our troubles in the fourth quarter,” Taylor said.
No doubt the loss of Nikola Pekovic has hurt. They are 2-4 without the center.
“We were just playing better here and then he has been improving all year long, that has been a positive, and for him to end up with a sore foot and missing games will hurt us for a little while,” Taylor said.
Taylor also talked about the remodeling of Target Center. “I think that is moving along on time,” he said, adding that the Wolves and Lynx will sign a lease through 2032 once the remodeling is set. “Now that we have the approvals, I think it’s just a matter of us working with the architect and agreeing with the city on what things will be changed and the priority.”
And Taylor is very excited about moving the Wolves and Lynx offices and practice facilities to a basketball building in Block E, as well as the fact that the deal will include a partnership with Mayo Clinic. In fact, the Block E space will be called the Mayo Building once the remodeling is done.
• Rarely does our state have even one player perform in the McDonald’s All-American Game, the premier high school basketball all-star game in the country. However, this year’s game will have three from the Twin Cities: Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones will play for the East and DeLaSalle’s Reid Travis and former Cooper athlete Rashad Vaughn are on the West. Travis has committed to Stanford and Jones to Duke. Vaughn will announce his college choice this week, although unfortunately the Gophers are not being considered.
• Gophers coach Richard Pitino had 6-10 Senegal-born Abdoulaye Gueye, who is playing in Alabama, and Dujuan Piper of Seattle at the Indiana game on Saturday. Piper has offers from a number of schools, including Southern California, Washington and Washington State. Gueye has offers from Auburn, Texas Tech, Memphis and Tennessee.
• Sunday, the third-ranked Gophers wrestling team faces No. 1 Penn State at the Sports Pavilion. Coach J Robinson believes that if the Gophers win this match, they might have a good chance to win the national title and rank with the best teams Robinson has coached in his 28 years here.
• Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported that Vikings tackle Matt Kalil has been granted the Pieology Pizzeria franchise for the whole state of Minnesota and plans to make this area his home year-round with his involvement in the operation of several restaurants.
• Justin Morneau is going back to wearing No. 33 with Colorado, even though the number is retired for Larry Walker. Morneau’s boyhood idol, Walker gave the former Twins star permission to wear it.
• Tommy Hannon, who played basketball at St. Thomas and is a St. Paul native, has signed a one-year contract with the Goldfield Giants, a semiprofessional squad in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Australia.