It's a win-win deal if McNabb plays while Ponder learns

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 27, 2011 - 11:15 PM

Look at the cases of Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers, and bringing in Donovan McNabb to start for this season and perhaps next will give Christian Ponder a much better chance to avoid failure.

hide

49ers quarterback Alex Smith

Photo: Rick Havner, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The first round of the 2005 NFL draft progressed past the halfway mark and ESPN started to focus its attention on the highly rated player making a free fall.

The victim on this occasion was Aaron Rodgers, a quarterback from California.

There had been weeks of speculation as to whether San Francisco would use the No. 1 selection on Rodgers or Utah's Alex Smith to take a shot at the most daunting job in professional sports:

Franchise Quarterback.

The 49ers went with Smith. Rodgers went tumbling downward until Ted Thompson, the Green Bay football boss, decided he could not pass at No. 24.

This was not a positive development financially for Rodgers. He received a five-year contract that included roughly $5 million in guaranteed money. Smith signed a six-year contract with $24 million guaranteed.

Smith was starting for a bad 49ers team by the fifth game of the 2005 season. It was a 28-3 loss to Indianapolis in which he put up a passer rating of 8.5.

He had a season of some promise in 2006, and then a combination of ineptitude and injury turned him into the whipping boy for 49ers fans. Fired coach Mike Nolan would later say that a major regret was not going to Shaun Hill (over Smith) earlier in the 2007 season.

Smith missed 2008 because of a shoulder injury, then was 8-12 in 20 games as a starter the past two seasons. On Tuesday, he agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal to return to the 49ers.

There are several categories for failed quarterbacks who went extra-high in the draft. There are those who didn't care (JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf) and those who couldn't play (Joey Harrington and Tim Couch), and there are more who were ruined by being forced to play much too soon.

David Carr was one of those; some talent, but quickly battered into submission by opposing defenses and mounting criticism.

Smith appears to be a similar casualty. And it should leave Rodgers, as he opens practice this week with the defending Super Bowl champions, to look westward to that Golden Gate and say:

"There but for the grace of the NFL Draft go I."

Rodgers didn't have to play for three years with the Packers. He threw only 59 passes in relief of Brett Favre in those first three seasons. This was the same period in which Smith was earning the disdain of his coaches and the wrath of 49ers followers.

You would've had to be a wild-eyed Packers optimist to look at Rodgers during his brief play (or exhibitions) from 2005 through '07 and say, "Boy, this guy deserves a chance to play."

I'm guessing that Rodgers -- if he had been forced to play every game in his second season with a bad team -- wouldn't have equaled Smith's 2006 numbers in San Francisco: 257 of 442 (58.1 percent), 2,890 yards, 16 TDs and 16 interceptions.

The Packers didn't have to push Rodgers into the lineup, which means he didn't have to fail miserably. By 2008, he was ready to play, and the Packers could stop the annual pleading with Favre to return.

That lack of pleading hurt the Grey Ego's feelings, of course, and he harrumphed off to the Jets, and then the Vikings. Meanwhile, Green Bay was completing its measured development of Rodgers with a Super Bowl title.

The Packers showed their belief in Rodgers in the middle of his first season as a starter in 2008:

They ripped up the original contract and gave him a six-year deal through 2014. There was $20 million guaranteed and an annual salary of $11 million -- meaning his bank account continues to gain on Alex Smith's.

Rodgers is 27 and at this moment you would take him over any quarterback in the NFL. Smith is 27 and this is his last shot to establish himself as a quality quarterback.

Some folks in Purple Land are suggesting the Vikings' decision to trade for veteran Donovan McNabb will hinder the development of Christian Ponder, the alleged quarterback of the future.

Look at the cases of Smith and Aaron Rodgers, and bringing in McNabb to start for this season and perhaps next will give Ponder a much better chance to avoid failure and eventually fill that imposing task:

Franchise Quarterback.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. • preusse@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 1st Prd 8:08
Nashville 0
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 55 2nd Half 12:22
North Carolina 38
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 7:30 PM
Western Mich
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 0 2nd Qtr 9:50
Texas A&M 7
(6) TCU 13 2nd Qtr 11:35
Texas 0
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 7:00 PM
Richmond
Oklahoma 7:15 PM
South Florida
Princeton 7:30 PM
Wake Forest
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Butler
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close