Souhan: Focus on what Vikings QB Ponder is, not what he isn't

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 25, 2013 - 12:59 PM
hide

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder

Photo: Genevieve Ross, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The position is so pivotal, visible, difficult and mythic that most conversations about NFL quarterbacks, even some of the best, address what they haven’t done. They are rats in a maze searching for cheese being steadily pulled away from them.

The conversations revolving around Christian Ponder during training camp will cast him as a lower-tier starter, an impediment to the Vikings offense, a guy who might want to look over his shoulder when he’s not looking off the safety.

After two seasons in the NFL, and only one as a full-fledged starter, Ponder — we will hear from every NFL analyst in the country — has much to prove. That’s true, and incomplete. He already has established some important bona fides.

To insult him with faint praise, Ponder has never butt-fumbled. He has never been accused by a tabloid of dating a teenager. He has never embarrassed his organization or made himself the center of a perceived or real controversy. He has never been photographed in public wearing a baseball cap representing another NFL team.

Ponder has never shown up for camp out of shape or shown up a teammate. He is not, like so many first-round quarterbacks, a bust. He has proved he can win a close game, that he can lead a comeback, that he can win a big game, that he can ride shotgun on a playoff team even if he is not ready to be its chauffeur.

Ponder is not now and might never become a star; neither is he a punchline or a coach killer, like so many quarterbacks who are drafted in the first round.

The Vikings held the 12th pick in the 2011 draft. They not only needed a quarterback, they were sick of scouring the AARP mailing list for guys who might play one more year before becoming a spokesman for ACME Stair Lifts.

By the time the Vikings’ pick came around, Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert had been taken. The Vikings could either choose Ponder, or trade down and hope that he or another quarterback they liked would be available in their new draft slot.

Now we know that Colin Kaeper­nick was the most talented quarterback available when the Vikings picked, but his profile as a running quarterback from a smaller school made him a risk for a team that wanted immediate help and favored a traditional offense.

Essentially, the Vikings were choosing between Ponder and Andy Dalton. Dalton has been the more effective passer in his first two seasons with Cincinnati; he has also had the benefit of throwing to better wideouts, including the great A.J. Green.

After two seasons, Dalton’s quarterback rating is 83.9. Ponder’s is 77.1. Dalton has been the better quarterback, but there isn’t tremendous separation between the two, and this year Ponder will for the first time work with an accomplished downfield receiver, in Greg Jennings.

ESPN’s Ron Jaworski, the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, recently ranked Ponder 27th among NFL starters. Jaworski is an excellent analyst who relies on film study and deep knowledge of the position, and his assessment is on the money.

But while we’re assessing Ponder’s weaknesses, let’s also remember that when the Vikings needed to win four consecutive games against difficult opponents to make the playoffs last year, Ponder was good enough.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets - LP: J. Familia 6 FINAL
Miami - WP: A. Ramos 9
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 7 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Boston - LP: B. Badenhop 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: G. Balfour 4
Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes 6 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4
Pittsburgh - LP: G. Cole 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: S. Maness 5
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Turner 4
Detroit - WP: D. Price 12 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 1
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Hammel 6
San Francisco - WP: J. Affeldt 4 FINAL
Colorado - LP: C. Friedrich 2
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Ross 3
San Francisco - LP: S. Romo 9 FINAL
Colorado - WP: L. Hawkins 10
Washington 5 Bottom 6th Inning
Los Angeles 2
Texas 3 Bottom 7th Inning
Kansas City 4
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 10 3rd Qtr 12:54
Louisville 14
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12 FINAL
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 13 FINAL
Calgary 28
Indiana 84 FINAL
Chicago 86

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close