One day after Leslie Frazier acknowledged that the Vikings must “fix” their quarterback situation, Christian Ponder accepted some of the blame for his coach’s firing.
The Vikings selected Ponder with the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft with the hope that he would become the team’s franchise quarterback. Instead, Ponder never developed into a reliable starter and lost his job twice this season after dealing with injuries and poor play.
“It was definitely an interesting year,” Ponder said. “And not the way that I thought it would play out or probably anyone wanted it to play out. So with my job, I didn’t play well enough to keep the job and for us to win as many games as we should have. So it stinks knowing that was a contribution to what happened.”
Frazier made some pointed comments after Sunday’s 14-13 victory over Detroit. It was clear he felt his ability to succeed was severely impacted by the team’s shaky quarterback situation, Ponder in particular.
“It’s a quarterback-driven league and if you don’t have that position functioning the way you need to, I don’t care what you need to do in the other areas of your team, you’re going to be fighting uphill,” Frazier said. “I’ve done everything I can do in my tenure here as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. I just know in our league you need to get that quarterback position fixed.”
Ponder acknowledged the loyalty that Frazier showed him, even as he struggled. “I think he tried to keep giving me a chance and so that was big,” Ponder said. “He gave me a chance just to come here and just be the starter. So I’ll appreciate that. That’s a relationship I’d like to have for the rest of my life. He’s a great guy and gave me that opportunity and it just stinks that it didn’t work out.”
Ponder’s future with the team remains unknown. He’s under contract for one more season, but Matt Cassel passed him on the depth chart. Ponder also said he won’t be surprised if the Vikings start over and draft a quarterback in the first two rounds this spring.
Ponder said he planned to meet with General Manager Rick Spielman on Monday to discuss his situation. Ponder said he’d like to compete for a starting job, either with the Vikings or another team.
Cassel signed a two-year contract as a free agent and can opt out of his final season but has expressed a desire to remain in Minnesota.
If both return, Ponder doesn’t anticipate another quarterback carousel next season. “I think there could be a lot of competition there, which is good for both of us,” he said. “But I think I would expect that once a decision is made it will be probably to stick with that guy and not have what happened this year. Matt’s done well and obviously he’s been the starter the past few weeks. And he’ll probably be named the starter going into the offseason if he opts in or they opt in. We have a good relationship. I think it could work out well.”