Turns out, Ponder's benching as Vikings starter was temporary

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 21, 2013 - 12:31 AM

Frazier will start the struggling QB against Green Bay.

Well, well, well. Look who’s still standing behind center.

In another surprising twist to what has been a futile season- long fumble to find consistently good quarterback play, the Vikings did, well, nothing.

Coach Leslie Frazier announced Wednesday that Christian Ponder would keep the starting job despite three more turnovers, a 1-6 record and a fourth-quarter benching at Seattle on Sunday. Then, obviously sensing disbelief among reporters expecting the return of Josh Freeman to finish out a lost season, Frazier pre-empted the day’s most obvious sports question in the Twin Cities by asking it himself.

“I’m sure the follow-up questions will be, ‘Why?’ ” Frazier said.

Well, now that you mention it …

“Like every decision, you try to make a decision based on who you think gives you the best chance to succeed,” Frazier said. “In our case, we think that’s Christian at this point.”

So what does that say about Freeman? Has the former Buccaneers first-round draft pick met the coach’s expectations since General Manager Rick Spielman signed him Oct. 6?

“He has,” Frazier said. “In some ways, based on the information that we received, he’s exceeded those. He’s been all-in, he’s been a professional in everything we’ve asked him to do. I like the way he handles himself in the pocket, in the meetings in the locker room. Much better than some things that we had heard.”

But if that’s the case, why not see what he can do after having spent the past six weeks learning the offense? After all, this is the same guy Frazier started against the Giants after only four days of practice with the first team.

Yeah, that game was a Monday Night Football fiasco featuring Freeman’s 37.7 completion percentage. But, hey, the Vikings are 2-8 and coming off yet another low point in Ponder’s tumultuous three-year career.

Considering Freeman cost the Vikings $2 million for 12 games and he’s not under contract beyond this season, not playing him at this point naturally could lead one to believe that Frazier doesn’t think signing him was the right move.

“I do,” Frazier insisted. “When you look at where we were at the time and what we were trying to accomplish and what we were facing, to not take advantage of that opportunity to bring him in and be able to be around him, take a look at him, see if he could help our club. I think we’d be kicking ourselves just wondering. We still have other games to play. There still may be other opportunities for him. No regrets about bringing him in.”

Frazier said Sunday’s opponent also played a role in Wednesday’s decision.

“[Ponder] has had some success against Green Bay’s defense,” Frazier said. “He’s familiar with their team and their personnel. He’s played at Lambeau before.”

Ponder has played well against the Packers in the past two meetings at Mall of America Field. Both were turnover-free, including last year’s 37-34 playoff-clinching victory in Week 17. But as far as Lambeau Field, Ponder is 0-2 with a 47.5 completion percentage, one touchdown pass and three interceptions.

Freeman played at Lambeau once with Tampa Bay in 2011. He lost 35-26 while completing 73.7 percent of his passes (28 of 38) for 342 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.

Matt Cassel likely will back up Ponder, Frazier said. As for Freeman, Frazier said he hasn’t decided whether he’ll be active for only the third time in seven games.

If Freeman is upset in any way about not playing, he’s turning in a Tom Hanks-like performance in acting completely unruffled by it all.

“I’m just working,” Freeman said. “It’s been great. I’ve just been focusing on football. I’ve had a chance to really [focus]. There are no distractions, no anything. You just get to sit and focus. I get my beats bumping in the QB room, just sitting there and jamming and watch tape and take notes. It’s great.”

Ponder, meanwhile, said he wasn’t surprised to learn he was going to make his fifth consecutive start. Of course, at this point, what could possibly surprise a guy who has spent the past 11 weeks breaking a rib, separating a shoulder, being benched twice and brought back twice?

Sunday was Ponder’s first in-game benching of the season. After a 122.0 first-half passer rating, he collapsed in the second half. He threw interceptions on back-to-back possessions, including a pick-six that earned him a seat.

“Just bad decisions,” said Ponder, who has 13 turnovers this season. “Just trying to make plays towards the end. We were down, trying to have that fourth-quarter comeback and just forced some things that weren’t there. … Now, it’s time to forget it and move forward, and we’ve done that.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston 2 Bottom 7th Inning
Baltimore 6
Milwaukee 0 Top 7th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Washington 3 Top 7th Inning
Miami 2
NY Mets 4 Top 8th Inning
Atlanta 0
Chicago WSox 0 Top 7th Inning
Tampa Bay 3
Cleveland 4 Bottom 3rd Inning
Minnesota 1
Seattle 1 Bottom 7th Inning
Houston 7
Cincinnati 4 Top 7th Inning
St. Louis 7
San Francisco 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
San Diego 0
Texas 0 Bottom 1st Inning
LA Angels 0
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
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Texas State 35 4th Qtr 1:07
Illinois 42
Georgia State 14 4th Qtr 1:42
Washington 45
Ball State 0 Delayed 9:30
Toledo 6
Appalachian St 7 3rd Qtr 6:36
Southern Miss 14
Miss State 24 3rd Qtr 10:47
(8) LSU 10
Northern Ill 7 3rd Qtr 3:34
Arkansas 35
Middle Tennessee 7 3rd Qtr 7:09
Memphis 22
Utah State 7 3rd Qtr 9:00
Arkansas State 0
Miami-Ohio 21 3rd Qtr 12:35
Cincinnati 24
Idaho 14 3rd Qtr 6:34
Ohio U 20
(14) So Carolina 17 3rd Qtr
Vanderbilt 14
(4) Oklahoma 17 2nd Qtr 1:20
West Virginia 24
Ga Southern 14 3rd Qtr 15:00
South Alabama 6
UNLV 7 2nd Qtr 6:52
Houston 13
Miami-Florida 14 2nd Qtr 5:15
(24) Nebraska 14
New Mexico 14 2nd Qtr 4:07
New Mexico St 14
(22) Clemson 3 2nd Qtr 12:38
(1) Florida State 3
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 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
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 2nd Half 40:00
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 2nd Half
Montreal 1
Seattle 1 2nd Half 5:00
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 0 1st Half 5:00
Chicago 2
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 15 2:58
Hamilton 7
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