Christian Ponder has great leadership skills, as he demonstrated by organizing an informal camp this week (never mind the fact that most of his teammates elected to skip the camp; it was a nice try anyway). Unfortunately Ponder, being a 2011 draft pick, doesn’t have the experience to go with the natural leadership ability.
This lack of experience, both on the part of Ponder and his teammate Joe Webb, is the biggest reason why the Vikings might consider pursuing a veteran quarterback when/if transactions again become possible. The thinking being that the team still has enough pieces to make a run if they can plug in the right guy (where have we heard that before?).
The inexperience issue might not be so vexing if the Vikings could count on Ponder/Webb getting in a full training camp and preseason. Maybe – maybe – Ponder could develop quickly, or Webb could expand on his 2010 performance, if only they had the chance to practice.
Sadly, the Vikings can’t count on Ponder and Webb getting this vital experience. The lockout has cast a pall of uncertainty over everything, including whether there will even be a training camp (or a preseason, or a season, or a future for the human race).
Given all these uncertainties, it should come as no shock to anyone that Leslie Frazier it talking “options.”
“We had an idea back in April what direction we wanted to go,” Frazier said to reporters during Friday’s annual Vikings charity playground construction. “In May, we thought about some things. Now, we’re into June and we’re still discussing what’s the best option for us and for our quarterbacks. What you don’t want to do is put a guy in harm’s way to the point where his confidence is affected for the future. So, we’ve got some different things that we’ve got to talk through and figure out based on when we start football.”
In short, Frazier has acknowledged that the Vikings aren’t sure starting the season with a rookie, or even a green second-year guy like Webb, is in either the team’s best interests or the players’. The option he’s hinting at is acquiring a veteran. And since there figure to not be very many good free agents available, the string of speculation leads us naturally to the conclusion that Frazier means making a trade.
And from there we hop-scotch to Kyle Orton, a quarterback the Vikings are believed to be intrigued by. Orton makes sense for many reasons. He’s experienced but not old. He’s not a diva like our last veteran QB. And, best of all, he’s in the last year of his contract, so ditching him to go with Ponder/Webb after one year won’t be a problem.
As has been stated many times before, the longer the lockout goes, the less comfortable everyone will feel letting Ponder go in. And yes, I realize Ponder at this point has more knowledge of Bill Musgrave‘s playbook than anyone, including perhaps Bill Musgrave. But it isn’t experience with Musgrave’s offense that’s the issue. It’s just plain experience, the kind that allows you to weather tough times without having your confidence shaken.
The Vikings invested a #12 overall pick in Ponder and don’t want to ruin him. That, I believe, is sound thinking.