Souhan: Tell it like it is, Vikings; Ponder stinks for now

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 5, 2012 - 11:45 AM

SEATTLE - If Christian Ponder had access to as many open receivers as excuses, he could set records while throwing lefthanded.

His wideouts lack speed. His blocking has collapsed on him like a decrepit mine shaft. Defenses seem to know the Vikings' offensive plays better than the Vikings. His best receiver, Percy Harvin, might have to become an MMA fighter to lessen the beatings he takes.

Ponder could fill a Rolodex with the excuses his enablers provide for him, but there is a problem with absolving him of blame.

Midway through a season that began with him looking accurate as satellite photos, Ponder isn't passing the eye test, or any statistical measure of NFL competence.

Sunday, as Adrian Peterson rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns, Ponder managed just 63 yards passing. He threw an interception that never had a chance of being anything else. He took four sacks, reducing the Vikings' net passing yardage to 44. He continued to misfire on the simplest of short passes.

Ponder's ineptitude Sunday is problematic for the Vikings on several fronts, and not just because all the world loves a backup quarterback.

He's regressing while all around the league young quarterbacks are thriving. Sunday, Seattle rookie Russell Wilson was the better quarterback on the field. While he lacks Ponder's size and arm strength, Wilson threw for 173 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. He looked more decisive and poised than Ponder, too.

Ponder is regressing just when a good young quarterback would be expected to surge, midway through his second season, when grasping offensive concepts and defensive schemes should become easier. Instead, he looks like he is trying to read a Mandarin menu for the first time without ordering fish-head stew.

He is regressing just when the Vikings had raised expectations for the 2012 season. He played well enough to help the Vikings into contention; now he seems to be wilting under the pressure he helped create.

Ponder isn't just ineffective; he looks uncomfortable even playing the position.

The Vikings' problem is that they are obligated to spend this season evaluating him. Benching him in favor of Joe Webb might give the offense a momentary jolt, but any realist, inside or outside the organization, knew this season would be dedicated to developing and judging their prospective franchise quarterback. Quitting on him now would make little sense, even if Webb's aggressiveness and decisiveness might prove entertaining.

"I don't think that Christian is the problem," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "We also have to look at what people are doing against us."

The Vikings might be right to stick with Ponder. They are not right to coddle him.

He played poorly. He played poorly at the most important position in the most popular league for a team in contention for the playoffs. If he can't handle criticism from his coaches or the public, he's not going to last, anyway, so Frazier and everyone else in the organization might as well start speaking the plain truth.

Ponder might want to try that, too. He's a nice guy who spends his time on the podium trying not to offend anyone. Someone needs to tell him that he's allowed to say, "I stunk, and if I don't play better than this we're not going to win many games."

Instead, for weeks now, he's said things like, "I have to get better; we need to get better as a team," in a tone of voice that makes the effective translation, "Can't we talk about the new Bond flick instead?"

Good quarterbacks carry themselves with athletic arrogance. Their confidence radiates. Ponder's body language on the field doesn't say, the way Brett Favre's did, that he's about to solve the defense and throw a touchdown pass. Ponder's body language screams that he would really like to hand off to Peterson.

His early success wasn't a mirage, but the Vikings shouldn't pretend his recent failures are, either.

It's time for everyone in the organization to admit that Ponder stinks right now, and that shrugging is not a solution.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Detroit 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Houston 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Oklahoma City 6:30 PM
Dallas
New York 8:00 PM
Portland
Toronto 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 4:00 PM
Florida
Vancouver 7:00 PM
Anaheim
Tulane 11:00 AM
St Johns
Central Conn St 12:00 PM
Connecticut
Iona 12:00 PM
Drexel
Concordia (MI) 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Harvard 1:00 PM
Arizona State
Longwood 1:00 PM
Ball State
Sacred Heart 1:00 PM
Brown
Colgate 1:00 PM
Columbia
MD-Eastern Shore 1:00 PM
Duquesne
UNC Greensboro 1:00 PM
East Carolina
Marist 1:00 PM
Elon
NJIT 1:00 PM
Lafayette
Cincinnati Christian 1:00 PM
Liberty
Morgan State 1:00 PM
Marquette
Campbell 1:00 PM
Samford
Bucknell 1:00 PM
Siena
Long Beach State 1:00 PM
Syracuse
Coppin State 1:05 PM
Evansville
UMKC 1:05 PM
Indiana State
Hofstra 1:30 PM
Long Island
Coast Guard 2:00 PM
Army
Thomas (GA) 2:00 PM
High Point
Texas Southern 2:00 PM
Kansas State
Rutgers 2:00 PM
Monmouth
NC Wesleyan 2:00 PM
NC A&T
South Dakota St 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Central Penn College 2:00 PM
Radford
Bowling Green 2:00 PM
South Florida
Harris-Stowe 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Robert Morris-IL 2:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Northland College 2:00 PM
North Dakota St
Milwaukee 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 2:30 PM
Arkansas
Saint Peters 3:00 PM
Cornell
St Katherine 3:00 PM
Fresno State
Haskell 3:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Wake Forest 3:00 PM
Richmond
Fla Gulf Coast 3:00 PM
Xavier
SD Christian 3:05 PM
Northern Ariz
Judson 3:30 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Ill-Chicago 4:00 PM
Bradley
Loyola-Maryland 4:00 PM
Fairfield
Miss Valley St 4:00 PM
Houston
Lehigh 4:00 PM
UMBC
Delaware State 4:00 PM
Temple
Belmont 5:00 PM
Butler
Howard 5:00 PM
Fordham
NW Christian 5:00 PM
Nevada
UC Davis 5:00 PM
Washington St
Abilene Christian 5:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UCLA 5:30 PM
Alabama
Stony Brook 7:00 PM
Washington
Buffalo 7:00 PM
Wisconsin
CS-Bakersfield 9:00 PM
California
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
Drexel 11:00 AM
Miami-Ohio
Holy Cross 11:00 AM
Norfolk State
East Carolina 11:00 AM
South Florida
(10) Oregon State 12:00 PM
(8) Tennessee
Providence 12:00 PM
Boston College
Florida A&M 12:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Oakland 12:00 PM
Central Michigan
Chattanooga 12:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Fairfield 12:00 PM
La Salle
St Francis-PA 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Milwaukee 1:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Gardner-Webb 1:00 PM
Longwood
New Hampshire 1:00 PM
Manhattan
Bucknell 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Northeastern 1:00 PM
Albany
George Mason 1:00 PM
Towson
Richmond 1:00 PM
William & Mary
Tulane 1:00 PM
Cincinnati
North Florida 1:00 PM
Florida
(14) Georgia 1:00 PM
Seton Hall
Tennessee St 1:00 PM
(12) Kentucky
American Univ 1:00 PM
Wake Forest
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Boston U
Quinnipiac 1:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Lafayette 1:00 PM
Saint Peters
Northwestern 1:00 PM
(20) Michigan State
Duquesne 1:00 PM
Lehigh
George Washington 1:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland
(17) Rutgers 1:00 PM
Indiana
(24) Green Bay 1:00 PM
Dayton
Western Mich 1:30 PM
Stony Brook
Davidson 1:30 PM
Virginia
UNC Greensboro 2:00 PM
LSU
Denver 2:00 PM
North Texas
VA Commonwealth 2:00 PM
Coppin State
Huston-Tillotson 2:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Lamar 2:00 PM
Rice
Miss Valley St 2:00 PM
Alabama
Saint Louis 2:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Middle Tennessee 2:00 PM
Tenn Tech
Penn State 2:00 PM
(23) Iowa
Purdue 2:00 PM
Illinois
DePaul 2:05 PM
Illinois State
Sam Houston St 2:05 PM
Wichita State
South Dakota 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(4) Notre Dame 3:00 PM
UCLA
Coll of Charleston 3:00 PM
SC State
Alcorn State 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Dartmouth 3:00 PM
Niagara
Colgate 3:00 PM
Siena
Michigan 3:00 PM
Wisconsin
Fla Gulf Coast 3:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Yale 3:30 PM
(25) Arizona State
UC Santa Barbara 4:00 PM
(16) Stanford
Long Island 4:00 PM
Long Beach St
Jackson State 4:00 PM
Louisiana
Eureka 4:30 PM
Western Ill
Cornell 5:00 PM
(22) Syracuse
Temple 7:30 PM
Memphis

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Gophers head coach?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close