The former first-round QB was relegated to watching Saturday as a veteran and an effective rookie made it too clear they were the Vikings’ future at his position.
One of my favorite sayings is employed by writers who cover international sports. They say: “Nothing is so over, when it’s over, as the Olympics.’’
One day, the world is watching pageantry and sporting nationalism play out in packed venues described as the pride of the host country. The next day, you drive by and there are tumbleweeds rolling past buildings that may never be used again, while workers tear down any banner bearing interlocking rings.
There is another way to employ the Olympics saying, if you care about the Minnesota sports. Nothing has ever been so over, when it’s over, as Christian Ponder’s Vikings career.
Saturday night, Ponder was given no reason to remove his baseball cap during the second preseason game of his fourth professional season. Matt Cassel played the first half. Teddy Bridgewater played the second half. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said that was the plan all along.
Three years after he was the 12th pick in the draft, and two seasons after he helped maneuver the Vikings to 10 victories and a playoff berth, Ponder is as big a part of the team’s future as Chris Kluwe.
We knew Ponder’s Vikings career was close to an end. We didn’t realize just how “over’’ it was until Saturday night.
This wouldn’t matter much if Ponder had been acquired in a low-level trade, or picked in the third round.
This does matter because Ponder now ranks as the worst quarterback bust in Vikings history, and the worst draft pick at any position since 2005, when the Vikings mistakenly thought they could replace Randy Moss with a short, skinny kid from South Carolina named Troy Williamson.
Because of the organization’s ability to find and develop quarterbacks not taken in the first round, such as Fran Tarkenton, Wade Wilson and Rich Gannon — and because of the franchise’s recent propensity for signing veteran quarterbacks — the Vikings have selected only four quarterbacks in the first round in franchise history.
In 1977, the Vikings chose Tommy Kramer with the 27th pick. In 1998, they chose Daunte Culpepper with the 11th pick. In 2011, they chose Ponder with the 12th pick. In 2014, they chose Bridgewater with the 32nd pick.
Bridgewater has a chance to be the best quarterback drafted by the Vikings since they chose Tarkenton in the third round in 1961, because Culpepper’s reign as a spectacularly talented player was so short-lived.
The Vikings may be able to trade Ponder for a low-round draft choice. Nothing they receive in return will offset the true cost of drafting him.
Drafting Ponder cost the Vikings the chance to select a good player. Of the first 16 players chosen in 2011, 12 have been named to a Pro Bowl. Of the four who haven’t — Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Ponder and Nick Fairley — three are quarterbacks.
Drafting Ponder cost the Vikings the incentive to look at other quarterbacks available in 2011. The productive Andy Dalton and the often spectacular Colin Kaepernick were taken early in the second round.
Drafting Ponder in 2011 kept the Vikings from seeking a quarterback in the 2012 draft, when Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson were available.
Drafting Ponder led to a disastrous 2013 season that cost Adrian Peterson a season late in his prime, and cost Leslie Frazier his job.
There are no true disaster stories in the NFL. The league allows any intelligently run team to rebound quickly.
The Vikings will recover from having drafted Ponder, just as they recovered quickly after the most lopsided trade in NFL history. They dealt for Herschel Walker in 1989, giving up three first-round picks and a number of players, and were back in the playoffs by 1992.
Cassel is a better player than Ponder. Bridgewater should eventually be better than either. The Vikings enter the season with the best quarterback situation you can have if you don’t have a star in his prime, with a competent temporary starter allowing a talented rookie to ease into the league.
None of which should distract anyone from the harsh truth: Drafting Ponder was a historic mistake.
|Philadelphia||12/20/14 3:30 PM|
|San Diego||12/20/14 7:25 PM|
|Minnesota||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Baltimore||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Detroit||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Atlanta||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Green Bay||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|New England||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|NY Giants||12/21/14 3:05 PM|
|Buffalo||12/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Indianapolis||12/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Seattle||12/21/14 7:30 PM|
|Denver||12/22/14 7:30 PM|
|Brooklyn||35||2nd Qtr 9:41|
|Washington||37||2nd Qtr 10:01|
|Minnesota||32||2nd Qtr 8:02|
|Toronto||34||2nd Qtr 7:42|
|Chicago||4||1st Qtr 9:41|
|Portland||4||1st Qtr 9:15|
|LA Clippers||8:00 PM|
|Oklahoma City||9:30 PM|
|Tampa Bay||0||2nd Prd 13:31|
|NY Islanders||1||2nd Prd|
|Boston||0||1st Prd 16:48|
|Case Western Reserve||52||2nd Half 11:48|
|Niagara||28||2nd Half 20:00|
|SD Christian||35||2nd Half 11:09|
|UC Santa Barbara||51|
|Concordia (MI)||39||2nd Half 15:27|
|Northern Ill||28||2nd Half 14:47|
|North Florida||47||2nd Half 14:13|
|Hiwassee||47||2nd Half 12:46|
|Tennessee St||30||2nd Half 16:49|
|NC A&T||27||2nd Half 16:42|
|Central Penn College||41||2nd Half 14:22|
|Eastern Ky||35||2nd Half 17:16|
|Northern Ky||53||2nd Half 15:20|
|Northern Ariz||30||2nd Half 12:00|
|MD-Eastern Shore||29||2nd Half 14:49|
|St Marys-CA||33||2nd Half 20:00|
|Clemson||32||2nd Half 15:46|
|Tenn Tech||40||2nd Half 12:16|
|Washington-MD||25||2nd Half 12:37|
|William & Mary||63|
|Bethune-Cookman||15||1st Half 3:49|
|Furman||23||1st Half 5:38|
|Fla Gulf Coast||26|
|South Dakota St||28||2nd Half|
|Milligan||3||1st Half 14:48|
|LSU-Alexandria||5||1st Half 16:10|
|Southern Utah||2||1st Half 17:01|
|Chattanooga||2||1st Half 18:40|
|Seattle||2||1st Half 17:39|
|Lipscomb||12||1st Half 12:11|
|Winthrop||8||1st Half 15:09|
|Dickinson State||3||1st Half 18:11|
|New Orleans||5||1st Half 17:39|
|TX-Pan American||8:00 PM|
|Colorado State||8:00 PM|
|Alabama A&M||8:00 PM|
|Ark-Pine Bluff||8:00 PM|
|Eastern Wash||9:00 PM|
|Idaho State||9:05 PM|
|Nevada||12/20/14 10:00 AM|
|Utah State||12/20/14 1:20 PM|
|(23) Utah||12/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Western Mich||12/20/14 4:45 PM|
|South Alabama||12/20/14 8:15 PM|
|BYU||12/22/14 1:00 PM|
|Marshall||12/23/14 5:00 PM|
|Navy||12/23/14 8:30 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Central Mich||12/24/14 11:00 AM|
|Fresno State||12/24/14 7:00 PM|
|Illinois||12/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Rutgers||12/26/14 3:30 PM|
|NC State||12/26/14 7:00 PM|
|East Tenn St||48||FINAL|
|Fla Gulf Coast||69|
|Nicholls||44||2nd Half 5:52|
|Toledo||56||2nd Half 2:10|
|St Marys-CA||26||2nd Half 16:31|
|McNeese State||26||2nd Half 17:03|
|McMurry||27||2nd Half 11:52|
|NJIT||41||2nd Half 12:23|
|(6) North Carolina||24||2nd Half 20:00|
|Lafayette||35||2nd Half 17:11|
|Siena||34||2nd Half 14:04|
|Longwood||33||2nd Half 16:00|
|Savannah State||31||2nd Half 16:45|
|(19) Syracuse||38||2nd Half 15:12|
|Buffalo||29||2nd Half 18:07|
|Canisius||24||2nd Half 14:39|
|Davidson||42||2nd Half 13:58|
|Northern Ky||43||2nd Half 16:03|
|Saint Louis||24||1st Half 5:36|
|(25) DePaul||29||1st Half 3:29|
|Ohio U||32||2nd Half|
|Florida Atlantic||5||1st Half 16:16|
|Long Beach St||2|
|Miss Valley St||5||1st Half 14:03|
|Ark-Pine Bluff||3||1st Half 12:30|
|Bowling Green||5||1st Half 15:57|
|Arkansas State||9||1st Half 16:02|
|ULM||0||1st Half 17:50|
|(16) Oregon State||8:00 PM|
|Utah Valley U||8:30 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|No Dakota State||9:00 PM|
|Cal State Fullerton|
|Utah State||9:00 PM|
|Bethesda (CA)||9:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara|
|Aug 8 - vs. Oakland||7 pm||X||10-6|
|Aug 16 - vs. Arizona||7:30 pm||X||30-28|
|Aug 23 - at Kansas City||7 pm||X||30-12|
|Aug 28 - at Tennessee||7 pm||X||19-3|
|2014 regular season|
|Sep 7 - at St. Louis||Noon||X||34-6|
|Sep 14 - vs. New England||Noon||X||30-7|
|Sep 21 - at New Orleans||Noon||X||20-9|
|Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta||3:25 pm||X||41-28|
|Oct 2 - at Green Bay||7:25 pm||X||42-10|
|Oct 12 - vs. Detroit||Noon||X||17-3|
|Oct 19 - at. Buffalo||Noon||X||17-16|
|Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay||Noon||X||19-13 ot|
|Nov 2 - vs. Washington||Noon||X||29-26|
|Nov 9 - Bye|
|Nov 16 - at Chicago||Noon||X||21-13|
|Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay||Noon||X||24-21|
|Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina||Noon||X||31-13|
|Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets||Noon||X||30-24 ot|
|Dec 14 - at Detroit||3:25 pm||X||16-14|
|Dec 21 - at Miami||Noon|
|Dec 28 - vs. Chicago||Noon|
Poll: Will Christian Ponder ever be a full-time starter in the NFL?