It’s amazing to see the amount of criticism directed at Christian Ponder from fans and the media alike. The 25-year-old, who last season became the second-youngest starting quarterback in Vikings history to take the team to the playoffs (behind Daunte Culpepper), already has people calling for him to be replaced following the season-opening 34-24 loss at Detroit last week.
But the Florida State product said that if he is going to have success, he cannot do anything other than ignore the newspapers and what people outside the team have to say about his play.
“I don’t read it, so I’m focused on my job and that’s to keep getting better and improve as a football team and lead this team to some wins and hopefully the playoffs,” Ponder said. “I don’t know what’s being said, and I couldn’t care less.”
Last season was unquestionably an up-and-down one for Ponder in his first opportunity to be the starter for a full season. He posted four starts with a quarterback rating above 100, but he also had five games with a quarterback rating below 60.
But he said after watching the film from Week 1 that he saw improvement over his play from last year.
“There were a lot of good things [in the Detroit] game,” Ponder said. “The turnovers were unfortunate, obviously things that are easily correctable — things that I don’t think I made bad decisions, it’s just things were unfortunate. “
Ponder finished last week completing 18 of 28 passes for 236 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions for a QB rating of 63.1. Still Ponder’s 8.43 passing yards per attempt was the second-highest single-game total of his career.
Ponder was asked how his confidence is following the 0-1 start to the season.
“Confidence is great, my confidence is not affected,” he said. “I know that there were a lot of good things in that game.”
Ponder also said that even difficult losses like Detroit give him something to learn from.
“I mean, the more experience you get the better you become,” he said. “I learn from every situation that I go through, good or bad. I think with anybody the more experience you get, the game slows down, you become a better player.”
He added that Sunday’s game at Chicago won’t be any easier.
“You know it’s a tough division,” he said about starting off against two NFC North opponents. “But it’s a competitive division and it’s fun to play in.
“[Chicago’s fans will] be tough, they’ll be loud. It’s a fun place to play. They definitely have home-field advantage and we’ll learn to deal with it.”
Does he feel any pressure in trying to keep the Vikings from starting out 0-2?
“We understand that there are going to be losses in this season and we don’t want to be 0-2, obviously you want to win this one and keep moving forward,” Ponder said. “But we’re going to do the best that we can and not worry about the outcome — it’s about the process.
“I’m a lot more comfortable and confident in what I’m doing, and I think everyone in this offense is. We are a better offense than we were last year.”