Souhan: Focus on what Vikings QB Ponder is, not what he isn't

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 25, 2013 - 12:59 PM
hide

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder

Photo: Genevieve Ross, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The position is so pivotal, visible, difficult and mythic that most conversations about NFL quarterbacks, even some of the best, address what they haven’t done. They are rats in a maze searching for cheese being steadily pulled away from them.

The conversations revolving around Christian Ponder during training camp will cast him as a lower-tier starter, an impediment to the Vikings offense, a guy who might want to look over his shoulder when he’s not looking off the safety.

After two seasons in the NFL, and only one as a full-fledged starter, Ponder — we will hear from every NFL analyst in the country — has much to prove. That’s true, and incomplete. He already has established some important bona fides.

To insult him with faint praise, Ponder has never butt-fumbled. He has never been accused by a tabloid of dating a teenager. He has never embarrassed his organization or made himself the center of a perceived or real controversy. He has never been photographed in public wearing a baseball cap representing another NFL team.

Ponder has never shown up for camp out of shape or shown up a teammate. He is not, like so many first-round quarterbacks, a bust. He has proved he can win a close game, that he can lead a comeback, that he can win a big game, that he can ride shotgun on a playoff team even if he is not ready to be its chauffeur.

Ponder is not now and might never become a star; neither is he a punchline or a coach killer, like so many quarterbacks who are drafted in the first round.

The Vikings held the 12th pick in the 2011 draft. They not only needed a quarterback, they were sick of scouring the AARP mailing list for guys who might play one more year before becoming a spokesman for ACME Stair Lifts.

By the time the Vikings’ pick came around, Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert had been taken. The Vikings could either choose Ponder, or trade down and hope that he or another quarterback they liked would be available in their new draft slot.

Now we know that Colin Kaeper­nick was the most talented quarterback available when the Vikings picked, but his profile as a running quarterback from a smaller school made him a risk for a team that wanted immediate help and favored a traditional offense.

Essentially, the Vikings were choosing between Ponder and Andy Dalton. Dalton has been the more effective passer in his first two seasons with Cincinnati; he has also had the benefit of throwing to better wideouts, including the great A.J. Green.

After two seasons, Dalton’s quarterback rating is 83.9. Ponder’s is 77.1. Dalton has been the better quarterback, but there isn’t tremendous separation between the two, and this year Ponder will for the first time work with an accomplished downfield receiver, in Greg Jennings.

ESPN’s Ron Jaworski, the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, recently ranked Ponder 27th among NFL starters. Jaworski is an excellent analyst who relies on film study and deep knowledge of the position, and his assessment is on the money.

But while we’re assessing Ponder’s weaknesses, let’s also remember that when the Vikings needed to win four consecutive games against difficult opponents to make the playoffs last year, Ponder was good enough.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Diego 0 Top 2nd Inning
Atlanta 0
Washington - J. Zimmermann 6:10 PM
Miami - N. Eovaldi
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
Milwaukee - K. Lohse 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Toronto - R. Dickey 6:10 PM
Boston - C. Buchholz
Arizona - C. Anderson 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - H. Bailey
Colorado - Y. Flande 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada
NY Yankees - D. Phelps 7:05 PM
Texas - Y. Darvish
Oakland - J. Chavez 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Oberholtzer
Pittsburgh - V. Worley 9:15 PM
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Seattle
Calgary 26 FINAL
Edmonton 22
Winnipeg 23 FINAL
Brt Columbia 6
Ottawa 23 FINAL
Hamilton 33
Toronto 9 FINAL
Saskatchewan 37
Indiana 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
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 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
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: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close