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RandBall: Did Ponder get a long enough look from the Vikings?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • October 11, 2013 - 2:42 PM

Matt Cassel is starting Sunday. He is the Vikings QB of the present. Josh Freeman is learning the playbook. He is the QB of the near-future. Christian Ponder used to be both of those things. Now it seems he is the QB of the past.

Did Ponder get a long enough look? Did the Vikings abandon the plan too quickly?

Remember that when Ponder was drafted in 2011, the NFL was in a lockout that didn't end until late July, costing Ponder tons of development time. He ended up starting 10 games because Donovan McNabb was horrendous, but it was truly baptism by fire.

In 2012, Ponder started all 16 games and the Vikings went 10-6 while making the playoffs. Total QBR is not a great stat, but it is one way of measuring a QB's impact on a team. Ponder was 18th in that metric last season, decidedly average but not terrible (Freeman was 17th, by the way, and Cassel was 32nd).

The Vikings would not have sniffed the playoffs without Adrian Peterson, but the revisionist history that Ponder was terrible doesn't add up. He was adequate in his first full year as a starter.

Then three games into his third season -- after the team continued to express full confidence in him -- he develops a rib injury and the plug is essentially pulled.

Listen: We grew just as tired of Ponder's inconsistency (particularly this season). We are also on board with Freeman getting a chance to prove himself. But it does seem like the story the Vikings were telling both the public and Ponder about their QB plans veered off-course very quickly.

Whether it was a bold and decisive move that pays off or something that backfires remains to be seen.

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