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Monday (Ponder, Kaepernick and the Packers' D) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Vikings Updated: September 9, 2013 - 8:14 AM


The Vikings wished for better quarterback play in the offseason, believing that Year 3 of Christian Ponder would be the breakthrough they were waiting for.


The Packers wished for better defense in the offseason, believing that more studying and scheme work would cure a pass defense that gave up 300 yards per game last season.

Both wishes remind us of a crude expression about bowel movements and the filling up of hands. Bottom line: If both teams were, indeed, relying on offseason wishes for 2013 success, both are -- at least so far -- empty-handed in that regard.

Picking on Ponder and the Packers' pass D is particularly low-hanging fruit, but then again they were both just that bad on Sunday. Ponder did a few things well early on. We can quibble about whether his first INT should have been caught by Jerome Simpson (we thought it was a decent ball, but thrown a little off target and telegraphed, like so many of Ponder's passes). We cannot quibble about what happened with the Vikings up 14-6 and threatening for more late in the first half. Ponder escaped the pocket, as he so often does, and went chugging to his left. It looked like he was trying to throw the ball away, but instead he was hit, the ball floated in the air forever, it was intercepted, and Detroit ended up turning the possession into a game-turning TD just before halftime. We do not care if his intentions were good. Ponder has to get that ball out of bounds and live to see another day. End of story.

The other crippler was a botched handoff between Ponder and Adrian Peterson after Ponder stumbled on a lineman's foot. It's another human error compounded into a mental error when Ponder still tried to complete the handoff. Stuck between trying to do too much and do too little -- that's where Ponder resides, and it cost the Vikings in a 34-24 loss.

It's hard to say, though, that the Vikings are more fundamentally flawed than their border rivals to the east, and we say that with all seriousness. While the Packers have certainly figured out the most important position on the field (QB), they continue to employ a defensive unit (and coordinator) that are not playoff-caliber, let alone championship caliber.

This was evident again Sunday as San Francisco passed all over the Packers, who could not get off the field at key times in a 34-28 loss. They skipped right over 300 and went to 400-plus yards passing allowed.

The common denominator in all this is Colin Kaepernick. The third-year 49ers QB, chosen in the second round of the 2011 draft, is the real deal. We knew this already, but if you needed proof there it was on Sunday. He can make all the throws. He is poised. He can beat you in so many ways. He's everything you want a QB to be.

To torture ourselves, we went back to the 2011 pre-draft speculation. Pundits generally agreed going in that Ponder was the right pick for the Vikings if things fell the way they were expected to go. Ponder was the No. 12 pick and the fourth QB chosen. Kaepernick was taken 36th overall in the second round, one spot after Andy Dalton, and was the sixth QB taken. He wouldn't have been there at No. 43 when the Vikings picked in the second round (taking TE Kyle Rudolph, by the way). It would have been viewed as a reach at No. 12, just as some thought Ponder was a reach.

It's all revisionist history, but we'll leave with this thought: With the benefit of hindsight, two rivals would have had far different experiences on Sunday.


Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Dallas 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Chicago 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 71 FINAL
Utah 88
New York 129 FINAL
Sacramento 135
Minnesota 97 FINAL
Golden State 110
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
North Carolina 89
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 58 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 45 FINAL
SD Christian 50 FINAL
San Diego St 72
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
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
(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
(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
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(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
(2) Connecticut 96
Houston 50
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65


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