Souhan: Ponder won't go down alone

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 11, 2012 - 7:25 AM

If his failures continue, careers of coaches, staff, teammates will sink, too.

hide

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson (3) and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7).

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

NFL quarterbacks are like lightbulbs in art galleries. If they don't shine brightly, everything surrounding them becomes irrelevant.

Every week for many weeks now, Christian Ponder has stepped behind a podium and vowed to improve, as if improvement is inevitable. He has used that rationale as a shield against criticism and a talisman against self-doubt. It's as if he doesn't want to think too deeply about the costs of failure.

So he probably shouldn't read the rest of this column.

Ponder has the rest of this season to establish himself as a franchise quarterback. If he proves worthy of the job description, the Vikings can continue to build around him. If he signals that he's not qualified to handle the toughest position in sports, there will be wide-ranging consequences, such as:

• Rick Spielman's otherwise impressive résumé as the Vikings' talent guru will bear a hole the size of a cigarette burn. He will have whiffed on his most important draft pick, and he will have to spend valuable assets in an attempt to find his next franchise quarterback.

The Vikings have won two playoff games since 1988 with a quarterback that they drafted. For all of the franchise's success, it has failed miserably at drafting and developing quarterbacks with staying power. And franchise history is proof that if you can't draft and develop your own franchise quarterback, you are sentenced to purgatory at the position.

If Spielman missed on Ponder, he will have set his personal rebuilding plan back at least a couple of years, and NFL general managers don't get to rebuild too many times before they're replaced.

• Leslie Frazier will have damaged his credibility as a talent evaluator and endangered his job. His record as an NFL head coach is 11-20. That's not surprising given the circumstances under which he has worked, but if his attempt to build a sustainable winner is sabotaged by a player Frazier wanted, a player the Vikings took well before he was projected to be drafted, it will be difficult to excuse a losing record much longer. Few coaches survive poor performance at the quarterback position for long.

• Team morale will plummet. We saw signs of that last Sunday, as Percy Harvin ranted on the sideline and Jared Allen looked disgusted in the locker room. The Vikings don't have enough talent, or a soft enough schedule, to play at anything less than maximum effort and maximum unity without being embarrassed.

While I don't think replacing Ponder with Joe Webb is the right move at this moment, Frazier may have to consider a quarterback change to keep the faith of his players. Players don't want to see anyone gifted a starting job in the NFL based on pedigree. The NFL is a brutal meritocracy. First-round quarterbacks aren't excused from that reality.

• Adrian Peterson and Harvin will waste years in the prime of their careers. Peterson recovering from knee surgery to lead the NFL in rushing while facing defenses dedicated to stopping him might be the most remarkable story in the NFL this season. Harvin might be the best player, pound-for-pound, in the league. Both take brutal hits every game. Harvin is showing signs of wear, and Peterson has already had one major knee surgery. If the Vikings have to take the time to develop another quarterback, they may waste the best years of two of the league's best players.

• Bill Musgrave is linked even more directly to Ponder than Spielman and Frazier, who have wider responsibilities. Musgrave built his reputation as an excellent quarterbacks coach who did good work with Matt Ryan. Now Ryan is thriving without him, and Ponder is in his second slump in two years. Musgrave's career will have peaked if he can't wring more competence from his personal project.

• Zygi Wilf will be forced to make another round of tough decisions. He's developed into a fine NFL owner who has invested his trust in Spielman and Frazier. If Ponder fails and the Vikings continue to be the worst team in a strong division, Wilf may have to reassess his professional judgment of two men he admires.

If he plays well over the next seven games, Ponder will make a lot of problems vanish. If, for the second of his two NFL seasons, he follows a promising beginning with a midseason collapse, it's the people who believed in him who could disappear.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. •  jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Baltimore 0
Milwaukee 1 Bottom 1st Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Toronto 2 Bottom 1st Inning
NY Yankees 0
Washington 0 Top 1st Inning
Miami 0
Chicago WSox 0 Top 1st Inning
Tampa Bay 0
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler 6:35 PM
Atlanta - J. Teheran
Cleveland - T. Bauer 7:10 PM
Minnesota - P. Hughes
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Seattle - T. Walker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Arizona - C. Anderson 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Cincinnati - D. Holmberg 7:15 PM
St. Louis - J. Lackey
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan 8:35 PM
Oakland - J. Lester
Texas - L. Bonilla 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
San Francisco - T. Hudson 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 9:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
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 Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
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: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close