Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Defending Ponder

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Vikings, Vikings coaches, Leslie Frazier, Vikings offense, Vikings players, Adrian Peterson, Leslie Frazier, Vikings quarterbacks Updated: October 26, 2012 - 4:05 PM

 

There is no question Christian Ponder is the Viking’s quarterback of the present and future. But that didn’t stop coach Leslie Frazier from fielding a number of questions about Ponder’s recent struggles.

“He’s actually doing some things that you like to see,” Frazier said. “But, at the same time, you know that you’re working with a guy that’s in his second season. There are going to be some ups and downs and sometimes during the course of the game. The good thing about Christian is he’s shown the ability to make those corrections as we go. But we have to make sure we’re getting everybody on the offense to play up to the standards we’re asking and not make it all about the quarterback.”

To Frazier, there are a number of things that have to happen for Ponder – and the team’s offense – to get back on track.

One is picking up the blitz. The past two weeks – and especially Thursday – the Vikings have seen increasing blitzing from opponents. And those blitzes have been getting a lot of pressure on Ponder.

Frazier said keeping Frazier comfortable in the pocket is key.

To that end Frazier said the team would work hard on blitz pickup in the run-up to the team’s game in Seattle Nov. 4. “We’re going to work extensively on blitz pickup because I’m sure that other people will see what happened {Thursday} night,” Frazier said. “That’s probably the blueprint – put a lot of pressure, some extra guys in the box and make the offensive line have to adjust and the quarterback throw on the run a little bit.”

Conventional wisdom says that a team with a strong running game – something the Vikings have had in recent games – should translate into plays being available downfield. But the team has to pick up blitzes better.

“I think he’s begun to understand the nature of the business and the nature of the quarterback position,” Frazier said. “…  There are going to be days like this. You have to be mentally tough. We think he is, and he’s shown that he is.”

Another item is making sure all the receivers are on the same page with Ponder.

Frazier said he would not consider benching Ponder, ever for a few series, if his struggles were to continue.

“Barring injury, Christian’s going to be fine,” Frazier said. “We have complete confidence that he’s going to do a good job for us. We’ll keep working as a group to improve as a whole.”

 

Another step

Each week it seems running back Adrian Peterson gets better. While running for over 100 yards for his second straight game Thursday, Peterson nearly changed the momentum of the game with his 64-yard, third-quarter TD run.

So you’d think Peterson would have stopped hearing questions about whether he’s back to 100 percent yet. But you would be wrong. So it’s no surprise he hauled out a little sarcasm when asked yet again Friday.

“I am over 100 percent, I am trying to get to 200 percent,” he said.

But seriously, Peterson said he felt better than he did last year. “But I still have room to improve,” he said.

 

Where is Rudolph?

Earlier this season tight end Kyle Rudolph was described as Ponder’s security blanket. But, in the past two games, Rudolph has made just two catches.

Frazier said Tampa safety Ronde Barber did a good job on Rudolph Thursday. “But sometimes it’s more what we’re trying to do, trying to get the ball to other people and understanding what we’re trying to do from an offensive standpoint,” Frazier said. “It’s not so much what other teams are doing to take him away. {Thursday} what they did, it made a difference. But it allowed us to get the ball to other people. We just weren’t always as successful doing that.”

 

A clear decision

The Vikings trailed 30-17 with under 12 minutes left in the game when Tampa Bay was called for holding on a second-and-10 incompletion. Frazier decided to decline the penalty. On the ensuing third-and-10 play Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman completed a 34-yard pass to receiver Mike Williams. The Bucs eventually scored to go ahead 36-17. Friday Frazier explained his decision to decline the penalty.

“Third and 10, with the time on the clock, believing you can get off on third-and-10 and get the ball back,” Frazier said. “We needed the ball.”

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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