It is becoming a Sunday tradition on Twitter: Fans attack Christian Ponder for his poor play; a few other fans attack those fans for blaming everything on Ponder when the Vikings clearly have other problems. It’s a vicious cycle. We don’t propose to put an end to the madness, but we would at least like to ATTEMPT to quantify the blame. And by quantify, we mean assign blame percentages based on nothing but eyeball tests and how we interpret statistics. In any event, here is how we would divide up the blame for the Vikings’ passing game woes, which continue to reach new depths:
Christian Ponder: 40 percent. We can all agree he’s not the only problem. Can we agree he’s the biggest problem? He looks tentative with his throws at times – and then brutally careless other times, such as the back-breaking throw across his body for the interception in the end zone Sunday. You just can’t do that. He knows it. He said it. But he did it. In the battle of public opinion over Ponder, that throw – with a division foe reeling – will be a tough one from which to recover for the young QB. Want numbers? The ESPN-created metric QBR charts a QB’s impact on a game on a 1-100 scale, with 50 being average. Ponder is BELOW 14 in each of the Vikings’ last four losses, including a wretched, season-low 3.1 yesterday.
Pass-catchers: 20 percent. Fact: Vikings wideouts might be the worst in the league at creating separation. Wide receivers didn’t catch a pass until the final minutes yesterday. Percy Harvin is clearly missed, but even with him this group is generously described as average. Still, plenty of passing offenses have functioned with similar groups.
Coaching/play-calling: 15 percent: Maybe this number deserves to be higher, but we still get the feeling there is only so much that can be done with the pieces in place. That said, when you can’t scheme for at least a decent passing game when Adrian Peterson is doing what he’s doing, well, you need to re-think some of your schemes.
Offensive line: 15 percent: These guys are better run-blockers than pass-blockers, but in many games this season they have, as a group, at least appeared adequate. They aren’t helped by Ponder’s happy feet, whereby instead of stepping up in the pocket during a hint of pressure, he bails out to the right, creating chaos and taking half the field out of play.
Opposing teams: 10 percent. Ponder has faced a pair of very tough defenses on the road during his slump (Chicago and Seattle). But going against a banged-up Green Bay defense? Perhaps the Packers overachieved yesterday, but Ponder played right into their hands with those throws.
Adrian Peterson: 0 percent. Seriously. Don’t you just feel bad for AP?
Your thoughts, as always, in the comments.
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