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Mid-day talker: Is there anything Ponder, Vikings can still prove this season?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Vikings Updated: November 27, 2013 - 12:47 PM

This Vikings season has been going off the rails for so long now that it's almost hard to remember that just three short months ago when there was far more optimism.

Before the nightmarish descent into a 2-8-1 record, before a comical quarterback carousel that included bringing in Josh Freeman midstream, before all of the gut-wrenching leads given up ... there was a team with some key young players coming off a playoff season and a 10-6 record.

The past cannot be undone. But in the present, and in the final five games of this season, this team -- and specifically its quarterback, Christian Ponder -- are hoping there are still things to prove.

We had a chance to talk with Ponder on Wednesday in as close to a 1-on-1 setting as you will get when someone is up at a podium. Leslie Frazier spoke first, and a large media contingent was there to pepper him with questions about the Erin Henderson situation and the week ahead.

When Frazier was finished, about three-fourths of the herd moved to the Vikings locker room. As Ponder walked up, there were only 3-4 of us remaining to talk to the starting quarterback.

That speaks volumes about the season and the Ponder fatigue. But it might have loosened the QB up a little. We asked him just how he can reconcile these 11 games and all they have brought, compared to the expectations when everyone was 0-0. His sense of exasperation over all that has unfolded was plain to see. He talked about the 2011 season, his rookie year, when the squad was 3-13 -- and how he never imagined he would go through a year like that this season because he feels like this year's team is so much better.

He talked about all the close losses. He talked about legitimately wondering if he was going to get a "pink slip" the day after Josh Freeman was signed.

And he talked about the good news being that the season isn't over.

Maybe that's wishful thinking. For practical purposes, the season is over. And as bad as the defense has been this year, the biggest symbol of this team's 2-8-1 record is Ponder -- just good enough to make you believe, and just frustrating enough when it really matters to make you hope for a high draft pick.

The stats say Ponder is the 19th-best QB in the league according to Total QBR. His number, 55.2, is better than the "average" of 50 and ahead of a lot of recognizable names. Three teams have two QBs each ahead of Ponder, so really you could say that according to that metric he has given Minnesota average QB play.

In the past three games, he has rushed for just eight yards. Part of that, he said, is by design as he tries to stay in the pocket and go through his progressions better. In two of those games, he had a passer rating (different than Total QBR) over 100. In the other, against Seattle, he was completely undone by a bad second half after a pretty good first half.

But look: we're not trying to build a case for Ponder here. We believe that ship has sailed and that his fate is directly tied to that of his team.

Maybe the only thing left is a five-week goal: that this team isn't as bad as its record shows.

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Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Brooklyn 109 FINAL
Boston 107
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Orlando 89
Indiana 109 FINAL
Detroit 119
Milwaukee 107 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Houston 117 FINAL
Memphis 111
San Antonio 90 FINAL
New Orleans 97
Charlotte 75 FINAL
Oklahoma City 98
LA Lakers 98 FINAL
Dallas 102
Minnesota 102 FINAL
Denver 106
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Portland 114
Phoenix 115 FINAL
Sacramento 106
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(15) Arizona State 12/27/14 1:10 PM
Duke
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
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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 NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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