Sid Hartman: Ponder was NFL's best in red zone

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 8, 2012 - 1:15 AM

Rick Spielman sees good things in the future for his 2011 Vikings draft class, led by their first-round selection.


Christian Ponder had some ups and downs in his first season in the NFL, but Rick Spielman is high on the Vikings’ top pick in last year’s draft — as well as the entire 2011 draft class, which saw many players gain experience due to starters’ injuries.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

For those critics who found fault with rookie quarterback Christian Ponder, new Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said he is a believer in statistical analysis and that the 2011 first-round draft pick put forward some great stats among QBs this past season.

"I'm a very big stat guy. You look at [Ponder's] overall quarterback rating [70.1], but it may not show how he performed in pressure situations in a game," Spielman said.

"He was No. 1 in the league in red-zone efficiency. I think he was [also] 14th or 15th in third-down efficiency, in quarterback rating. Those are the things that you see in this kid; he does perform in pressure situations. The rest of the game will eventually come to him the more reps and the more development he gets."

Spielman said that he is very excited about where Ponder is, "as far as his development and where he's going to be as we go forward and how he ranks with some of the great quarterbacks in their early years."

He added, "I think when you sit there and you analyze these rookie quarterbacks and you look at all the rookie quarterbacks that are great now -- all the way back when you look at Drew Brees and his rookie year, to Matthew Stafford and even where he was at his rookie year, and you see where Christian Ponder is, those guys are all going to have mistakes and they're going to take time to develop.

"But as they develop and they continue to develop and progress in Year 2 and Year 3 and Year 4, Christian shows a lot of those same traits that some of those great quarterbacks showed when they were rookies."

Good draft in 2011

All the Vikings' draft picks from last year were on the active roster when the season ended, other than linebacker Ross Homan, a sixth-round selection out of Ohio State selected 200th overall.

And Spielman believes the experience those draft picks got playing the past season because of the many injuries will make them strong contributors next season.

The Vikings surprised people when they took Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph in the second round, but without a doubt he will be a superstar at the position, according to Spielman.

Spielman mentioned he is high on the entire draft class.

"Christian Ballard [fourth round, 106th overall] did a good job in the defensive line when he got his number called," he said of the former Iowa lineman, who had 13 tackles as a rookie.

"You have [safety] Mistral Raymond [sixth round, 170th overall], who got an opportunity to play late in that season, and he grew in that position. And even Brandon Burton [fifth round, 139th], our corner, who's a young corner with a lot of talent. You started to see how he started to contribute more on special teams and did play some defense for us."

Spielman also mentioned that offensive lineman DeMarcus Love, a sixth-round selection, and defensive lineman DeAndre Reed, a seventh-rounder, didn't play as rookies, but they did make progress this past year and will contribute in the future.

And Spielman said he was very excited about guard Brandon Fusco, the sixth-round pick out of Slippery Rock. "[He] got a chance to play a couple games and we're very excited about what he showed when he got his chance," Spielman said.

"That's a part of the process that these guys learn, the speed of the game and what the NFL is about. Those guys pretty much held their own, that's why they were out there. We had a couple guys that didn't even get a chance [as rookies] ... but feel very confident they'll contribute next year."

Looking ahead, he said: "I know how important this draft is going to be. We'll have hopefully another 10 picks going into this draft and be able to hit on some of those guys who continue to develop and build this roster up again."

Twins generate revenue

Twins President Dave St. Peter pointed out the significant amount of tax revenue the Twins paid to Minnesota and Minneapolis this past year.

State sales tax collections at the ballpark totaled more than $10.7 million in 2011 and have surpassed $22 million dating back to Target Field's opening in 2010, St. Peter said.

Then Minneapolis collected a total of $5.69 million via the city sales entertainment and liquor tax, something the Twins were exempted from paying at the Metrodome. The total for that tax over the past two years is $9.26 million.

Overall, the Twins have paid $36 million in taxes to the state of Minnesota, to the city of Minneapolis and to Hennepin County since opening the ballpark in 2010.

And don't forget that the Vikings also don't pay that same tax at the Metrodome, but they will have to pay it in a new stadium, just like the Twins.


• Vikings owner Zygi Wilf didn’t deny a recent rumor that the club had to come up with a $20 million call from partners to keep the club revenue in shape. It’s a good indication that the Vikings aren’t profitable.

• Twins President Dave St. Peter, talking about the difference in the club’s position in revenue sharing since moving to Target Field: “I think we were receiving upwards of [receiving] $20 million in revenue sharing [at the Metrodome], and this year we paid in something north of $10 million. It’s a big swing, but it’s something that we believe very strongly in, and Carl Pohlad fought tooth-and-nail to make it happen with Commissioner [Bud] Selig, and it’s good for the game.”

• When Jerry Kill took over the Gophers football team, a number of players were in academic trouble. Well with the great academic staff working hard, the projection is that when the final grades come out, the roster will have near a 3.0 grade-point average for the fall semester. And all but three members of the squad with eligibility for 2012 will be present.

Flip Saunders and the Wizards are in a rebuilding season and the former Timberwolves coach has started the NBA season 0-7. Saunders will try for his first victory of the season Sunday against his former squad.

• Jared Allen on explaining why he broke Chris Doleman’s team single-season sack record: “At a time when people are out of work and out of jobs and there’s so much crap going on, and that was really my focus, was to put a positive attitude forward. I’m going to come to work and truly enjoy it, and it paid dividends. Do I want to do this ever year? Absolutely. Will it happen? I don’t know. I’m going to work my butt off, and that’s one thing you can always count on, I’m going to give it everything I’ve got on the field.”


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
New Orleans 99
Minnesota 84 FINAL
Oklahoma City 92
Orlando 94 FINAL
Memphis 103
Boston 99 FINAL
Utah 90
Denver 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 45 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 42
Coppin State 84 FINAL
NC A&T 71
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 56 FINAL
SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Campbell 78
MD-Eastern Shore 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Stephen F Austin 82 FINAL
Lamar 65
Central Arkansas 67 FINAL
New Orleans 87
Norfolk State 70 FINAL
Savannah State 54
SE Louisiana 61
Sam Houston St 80 FINAL
Abilene Christian 63
McNeese State 84 FINAL
Incarnate Word 86
Milwaukee 48 FINAL
Valparaiso 73
Alcorn State 66 FINAL
Alabama A&M 78
Southern U 59 FINAL
Alabama State 63
Prairie View 68 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 105
Texas 86 FINAL
Iowa State 89
Texas Southern 85 FINAL
Miss Valley St 84
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 59 FINAL
Auburn 48
(15) Nebraska 72 FINAL
(20) Iowa 78


question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters