Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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Christian and Tarvaris are the same quarterback

Posted by: Patrick Reusse under Vikings, NFC, Packers, Jared Allen, Sage Rosenfels, Tarvaris Jackson Updated: October 28, 2013 - 12:18 AM

Someone pointed this out in my Twitter feed in the late stages of the Vikings' blowout loss to Green Bay on Sunday night: At least quarterback Christian Ponder still was attempting to compete until the end of the no-contest, which is more than could be said for many of his teammates.

That's remindful of Daunte Culpepper in the infamous 41-donut loss in the NFC title game in January 2001. Culpepper still was trying in the fourth quarter, while everyone around him had long ago given in -- starting with Randy Moss from the opening snap.

The difference is, Daunte was a much more accurate thrower and much more decisive in his actions than Ponder. He had a few years as an elite NFL quarterback because of those qualities, as well as his mighty legs.

Ponder made his quarterback destiny obvious to all once again in the Metrodome. Ponder not only won't be elite; he won't be average.

His destiny is to become a journeyman, moving from team to team as a backup until he's 33, 34, and there's no longer such a job. His destiny is to go from the 12th overall choice and advertised franchise quarterback to Sage Rosenfels.

Ponder was 0-3 to start this season (his third), sat for the next three games, and returned for this 44-31 loss to the Packers. As was the case in the first three losses, the defense was the No. 1 cause of the Vikings' failure on Saturday, by a slight margin over Ponder.

The defense was so horrendous, in fact, that amateur lip readers were able to discern from a closeup that Jared Allen said, "I've never played on a defense this bad,'' as he stood on the sidelines in the fourth quarter and watched his defensive mates.

Then again, the collapse of that defense started with Aaron Rodgers buzzing two of the quickest, past-a-defender's-earhole shots in history for touchdowns -- one for a short TD to Jordy Nelson and another that became a long touchdown to Nelson.

Rodgers was fantastic. It made no difference that two of his three best wide receivers and his best tight end were unavailable. Rodgers has become what Tom Brady was for so long in New England: a quarterback who can make succulent chicken salad out of a receiving corps consisting of chicken feathers.

With Ponder, we no longer have to strain for the proper comparison. Forget that Rosenfels reference. Ponder absolutely is the second coming of Tarvaris Jackson.

As with Tarvaris, he's OK if the first place he looks there's an open receiver, and Christian's just peachy in garbage time against soft-playing defenses. But he's inept when facing the serious complications required to play the position at the major league level.

I can use that, right? Bert doesn't have it copyrighted, I hope.

Ponder's legs are fine. His arm strength is marginal. And his instincts are non-existent.

More than being unable to duplicate the Rodgers' throw that zinged past Josh Robinson's helmet as he oft-burned cornerback was turning to look for a football that was about to smack into Nelson's hands ... our guy Christian couldn't even have envisioned throwing that early to make such a connection possible.

Tarvaris was the Vikings' starter when healthy in his second season (12 starts in 2007), he was benched and then returned for a time in his third season, and then he became yesterday's news. He played for Seattle in 2011, only out of the Seahawks' desperation ... not with the idea that he actually could be their answer as a winning quarterback.

Jackson watched in Buffalo last season, and now he's back in Seattle, standing on the sideline as a caddy for Russell Wilson. He'll probably get a few more years of paychecks as a veteran backup, whether it's in Seattle or elsewhere.

If Ponder (26 next February) is curious amid the Vikings' quarterback chaos as to where his NFL career is headed, all he has to do is look where Tarvaris is as 30-year-old, bcause they are the same player.

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