The Vikings offense: Some goals for fans to ponder

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 8, 2012 - 6:16 PM

Christian Ponder's progression is the major factor in making the Vikings offense run more efficiently.

hide

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

With no hesitance whatsoever, Christian Ponder made his vow -- he will be better this season than he was as a mistake- and injury- prone newcomer in 2011. And from what the 24-year-old quarterback has shown throughout training camp and the preseason, there's ample reason to take him at his word.

But now come the natural follow-up questions. Just how good is better? And on the journey from being a green and inconsistent rookie to becoming a top-tier NFL quarterback, doesn't there have to be a stop at middle-of-the-road?

Welcome to Ponder's 2012, where his growth will be measured weekly, like a 10-year-old etching pencil markings on the bedroom wall.

So here are the expectations offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is setting for Ponder's growth chart:

Goal: Ponder should aim to complete 75 percent of his first-down passes.

That means moving the football at every opportunity and understanding the value of avoiding third-and-long situations.

In 14 possessions during the preseason, Ponder was 5-for-9 passing on first down for 69 yards. Of the 12 third downs he faced, seven were longer than third-and-6. The Vikings converted only one of those. Yep, improvement in that area still is needed.

Goal: Ponder should achieve a better grasp on how to avoid negative plays.

In 10 starts in 2011, Ponder was sacked 30 times and had 15 turnovers. Three of his giveaways occurred in the red zone and four others led directly to defensive touchdowns. In his final preseason action against San Diego, he was sacked five times and threw an ill-advised interception.

The frequency of such mistakes needs to be greatly reduced. If that means scrambling for a gain of a yard or two, so be it. Heck, Ponder received a showering of praise after a pair of throwaways during the preseason opener in San Francisco.

"That's the way winning football teams play," Musgrave said. "They may have poor plays, but they are not so poor that the team has a tough time overcoming them."

Goal: Ponder should understand the difference between making smart, low-risk decisions and being so overly cautious that he inadvertently pulls back too much.

"You want to make big plays, which sometimes means taking risks," Ponder said. "But you can't take too big of risks. You still have to be efficient with the ball. We want completions. But we still need to throw the ball downfield. If you don't throw the ball downfield, you won't have the shorter routes open. Somehow, you have to find the right balance."

Since Ponder's rookie season ended, the Vikings have done everything they can to set the young quarterback up for success.

They drafted stud left tackle Matt Kalil to solidify the line and signed free-agent speedster Jerome Simpson to stretch the field.

Coach Leslie Frazier also has lessened the pressure, saying he wants his offense "to really center on what we can do running the football." The coaches also have reminded Ponder that he has a pair of headliners in his huddle in running back Adrian Peterson and receiver Percy Harvin. Throw in emerging tight end Kyle Rudolph and there is no shortage of proven playmakers.

In other words, Ponder must remember he doesn't have to do it alone.

And the all-important catalyst to what the Vikings believe will be a significant 2012 growth spurt?

"Christian's confidence and ownership of the offense is so much better," center John Sullivan said. "He's making his reads and knows where he's going with the ball."

Sullivan is Ponder's close friend, so his endorsement is no surprise. But when asked if Ponder's second season should be judged on how well he executes ordinary tasks, Sullivan shakes his head.

"In today's NFL, you need your quarterback to be a great player," he said. "Ordinary doesn't get it done. Personally I think we have a great quarterback. But now Christian needs to prove that during the season."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 39 3rd Qtr
Washington 56
Orlando 52 3rd Qtr
Charlotte 42
Memphis 25 1st Qtr 1:38
Miami 13
Indiana 7:00 PM
Brooklyn
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Chicago
Atlanta 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Utah
New York 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Minnesota 9:30 PM
Golden State
NY Islanders 1 2nd Prd 18:47
Buffalo 0
Detroit 1 2nd Prd
Ottawa 1
Carolina 0 2nd Prd
Tampa Bay 1
New Jersey 0 2nd Prd 18:50
NY Rangers 1
Boston 1 2nd Prd 19:09
Columbus 2
Winnipeg 0 2nd Prd
Minnesota 1
Washington 0 1st Prd 4:49
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Nashville
Anaheim 7:00 PM
Arizona
Chicago 8:00 PM
Colorado
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Calgary
San Jose 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
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
UAB 58 FINAL
North Carolina 89
IUPUI 55 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 80 2nd Half 3:01
BYU 73
Mercer 55 1st OT 3:51
Georgia 55
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 18 2nd Half
Ohio State 47
Presbyterian 32 2nd Half
Virginia Tech 45
Brescia 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Tennessee St 7:30 PM
Tennessee
Kennesaw St 8:00 PM
Illinois
Colorado State 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Portland 8:00 PM
San Diego
Wayland Baptist 8:05 PM
Utah State
Bristol University 8:05 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
UNLV
SD Christian 9:00 PM
San Diego St
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 21 4th Qtr 2:25
Penn State 21
(25) Nebraska 7:00 PM
(24) USC
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
SMU 45 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 96
UCF 64 FINAL
Houston 50
BYU 62 FINAL
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 7:00 PM
Portland
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 NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close