Oct 25, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) throws during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

All the Christian Ponder Benching Talk Is Silly

Leslie Frazier has put to rest any talk of benching Christian Ponder. On Friday the coach responded to questions about the possibility of Ponder being sat down for poor play. He said, “We have complete confidence he’s going to do a good job.” In a talk with Bob Sansevere Frazier elaborated on the Ponder situation and more generally the problems with the offense. He made it clear he doesn’t see Ponder as the main issue.

“We have to do a better job around him. There are some things we can do offensively to help him, and we have to work on that in these days we have prior to playing Seattle. And if we get that done, we’ll see an improvement in his play, as well,” Frazier said.

Frazier is covering his guy’s butt here a little bit and I have no problem with that. There’s truth in what he says anyway. The whole offense outside of Adrian Peterson was pretty much inadequate on Thursday. I don’t think I even need to list the issues again. Bill Musgrave’s playcalling. The pass protection. The lack of receiver talent. It’s a familiar litany.

Point here is, nothing would be solved by benching Christian Ponder. Has he been a good quarterback the last couple games? No. But Joe Webb is going to do a better job? McLeod Bethel-Thompson? Or are they supposed to scour the waiver wire and pick up a competent veteran. David Garrard? Vince Young? Bring back Sage Rosenfels?

These are fantasy scenarios thrown out by fans who are at a total loss. Leslie Frazier doesn’t deal in fantasy. He deals in the realities of the personnel he has available to him. The reality is, Rick Spielman decided to cast his lot with Christian Ponder. The Vikings elected not to pick up a veteran QB fall-back option this off-season. They made up their minds months ago that Ponder was the guy. There is no second option.

So it’s silly to talk about benching Christian Ponder. It was silly before Frazier’s statements and it’s silly now. The Vikings will have to ride out Ponder’s growing pains and the fans will too. The onus here is on Bill Musgrave to find ways of working around Ponder’s obvious deficiencies. It would help if the Vikings had a legit #1 outside receiver who could beat single coverage on a consistent basis but they don’t. They have Jerome Simpson. Who might be a decent #3 but is clearly not a #1.

They also have Percy Harvin and he’s a great guy to have. But teams have been scheming to take Harvin away and now it’s up to Musgrave to find other things. I wish Kyle Rudolph was the answer but it’s obvious he doesn’t have the speed to run up the seam and beat linebackers. Most of Rudolph’s action is on short over-the-middle stuff and in the flat on bootlegs. He’s no Gronkowski.

It’s the lack of speed that’s really killing the Vikes in their passing game. The one guy they have who might be able to run by defenders, Jarius Wright, is stuck on the bench because the coaches don’t have faith in him. Until they find a second guy who can beat deep coverage now and then it’s going to be a slog. It’s going to be a lot of check downs and dump off passes and forcing it to Percy Harvin even if the defense is keying on him. And as long as that deep game isn’t there, teams will keep blitzing the heck out of Ponder.

It’s a vicious circle and you don’t get out of it by benching Ponder. As Leslie Frazier said, you have to add pieces around him. Right now the Vikings just don’t have those pieces. They elected not to dip into the free agent market this offseason and pick up a guy like Vincent Jackson (whose value to Tampa Bay is plainly obvious; just ask Mike Williams who is getting single coverage all over the place). So they’re stuck with what they’ve got.

They need to come up with a game plan to maximize the talent they do have. Bill Musgrave is pretty clever in terms of scheming so I think he’ll come up with something. I don’t know if he’s that good at in-game playcalling though. Maybe they should let Ponder call plays. Hey, it’s worth a shot.

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  • Randall Morgan

    I agree. We have to stick with Ponder. We gave him all the reps since otas. We gave him the job without competing. To throw Joe out there now would be saying what? Joe is better but there would be growing pains also. I say better because we know Joe is a play maker in this league The game is not too big for him. After 16 starts, we are still wondering if its too big for Ponder. Joe better get ready because I dont think Ponder is going to make it confidence wise through the rest of the schedule. For Adrian’s sake I hope he does. Stop making excuses for this kid, if the receivers are not open and some were by the way…throw them open.

  • mrs tiyler

    an opinion, and completely different from yours

    to say by benching ponder, joe webb would not be as good, when the evidence is that when webb was given a chance he went into philly and beat a very good philly club. That is something ponder has not been able to do. ponders only claim to fame is he won 5 games this year, and you could not pin point anything that he did to make those victories.


    • http://www.facebook.com/willdiggie.chase Will Diggie Chase

      Ponder was the only offensive play drafted from Florida St. that year. Tebow at Florida had Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy, Riley Cooper, Aaron Hernandez and Chris Rainy. All of these guys have a role on their respective teams.

  • Noles

    When the season started we would have been happy with 5 wins. Now that we had a fast start the talk is playoffs and super bowl. Everyone needs to remember that this team still has a lot of holes to plug, give them time to fill them and then lets see what happens. Ponder may be the one to lead the offense or it may be someone else, the one thing for sure is musical chairs wont work. What happens when Webb or MBT implodes on himself, the fans will call for their head and scream for Ponder to be back. This team is still not that good, period.

  • mrsamk

    Joe Webb is ONLY good when teams haven’t prepared for him. He’s a 1 trick pony. Sure, he’s athletic but he isn’t QB smart. Did you see him play in the preseason with vanilla defenses? He about sh.!t himself and was so horrible I don’t even want him as a backup. MBT outplayed Webb in the preseason. All Webb can do is run. He can’t throw from the pocket, or outside the pocket…he can run. This is Ponder’s first full year as a starter, so there were bound to be some ups and downs. I’m happy we have won 5 games, we got to sit on top of the division for the first part of the season. Ponder needs a real #1 receiver. Simpson is a great addition, but he’s more of a #2 or even 3…we need a TRUE number one. And hopefully we’ll get one in the draft. We need better O-Line guys to protect Ponder, so he doesn’t get happy feet and rush through his reads. MK was a great pickup and maybe a better guard or RT will help. We need to dump Carlson and his money hole of a contract and give it to Percy. There are many more probs than just Ponder’s growing pains. It takes a team effort to win AND to lose.

    • http://razori.net/mnhupm MNHUPM Official Webpage

      Webb is better than Ponder. You say Webb is only good when teams haven’t prepared for him, yet that’s EXACTLY what’s happening to Ponder. Teams have figured him out. All they have to do is blitz him.

      • http://www.facebook.com/willdiggie.chase Will Diggie Chase

        They wouldn’t blitz if his receivers could get open on a regular basis. You can see Ponder has no trust in his receivers.

        • http://razori.net/mnhupm MNHUPM Official Webpage

          Not buying it. How could he lose trust in the same receivers that he started the season with winning?

    • cparch18

      He played with “vanilla” offense too there guy.

    • Andrew

      Even though like you say Webb can’t throw inside the pocket or outside the pocket he is still able to run. Let’s be real, we need an elusive QB plain and simple and Webb brings that to the plate where Ponders just sits in the pocket and hardly runs. We have a great O-line, but Ponders hesitates to throw the ball and gets sacked a lot or throws it and gets intercepted. He is starting to lose confidence in himself an only trusts one receiver which is Percy Harvin and Harvin is starting to get double coverage on him knowing what a threat he is and that’s not enough. Joe Webb is knows how to move run the ball. He is the modern day Fran Tarkenton and Randall Cunningham in one. Basically a Vikings RG3! The Vikings have never had a great pass game, but imagine how much damage we could do if we had a mobile QB like Joe Webb running the ball and Adrian Peterson. We’re talking about racking up a lot of running yards here. Also, when Joe Webb plays he may not be as accurate of a passer as Christian Ponder, but he sure knows how to throw the ball around to his other receivers. He at least makes an attempt to hit different receivers to constantly keep the opposing teams defense thinking where as Ponder is really easy to read.. just cover Percy Harvin. So that being said, bench Ponder and put Joe Webb in.

  • t

    Musgrave doesn’t have a play to get a receiver open down field Even if he did, Ponder could not hit him. I have never seen him throw a deep ball. Seen him throw a 30 yard lob. Receivers aren’t the problem, Musgraves offense and Ponders lack of ability to throw anything over 10 yards are.

  • http://razori.net/mnhupm MNHUPM Official Webpage

    Staying with Ponder despite if he holds back the team, which he kinda is right now, is silly talk.

  • cparch18

    Musgrave is just terrible. I was at Thursdays game font row and in the first half 2 plays were called 4 times each. He is easy to predict and his plays just suck. The talent is there at reciever but we do need some help on the o-line. Ponder, we need to just replace. He has no mechanics and you either have em or you dont, he can’t carry a team or put them on his back in the 4th quarter so a veteran or someone new isnt a bad idea. But either is replacing Musgrave. I really don’t know how good our passing game could be strictly because of musgrave. For exaple Tampa runs the Tampa so how come Rudolph or someone else wasn’t attacking the middle? It was terrible play calling all game. Peterson should be having about 25-30 carries a game enough said. But he wont because Musgrave holds the o back.

  • Not an Expert

    I think I’d like to have Ponder as a friend. He seems like a very nice and very sharp guy. It also seems to me like he has the potential to become a very mediocre quarterback.

    I just don’t think Ponder is going to develop the instinct to manage a fast-paced NFL game and make that long play happen. It’s not that he isn’t smart – but knowing a play and being able to diagram it and lecture on its merits and flaws doesn’t mean that you’ll ever be able to take full advantage of that play when it is happening very fast on the field.

    What I want is a quarterback who gets everything set up, the ball is snapped, and the play then just flows for him. I want someone who feels/sees where people are and where they are going to be and will know instinctually where to go with the ball. This is something I don’t think can really be taught.

    I think Joe Webb has the potential to be a great quarterback. I think he has the ability to develop that feel for the field that will allow him to exploit a play to the fullest. But to get there he needs significant and regular time on the field. I expect he’d be doing a lot of running for a while but would develop a sense for what is happening and what he can make happen.

    That’s my take on it – and I acknowledge that I’m not an expert.

  • StraightUp

    Ponder needs to be benched. Frazier is gonna ruin this team refusing to realize that ponder is not a nfl quarterback. What other qbs have thrown for less then 60 yards more then once this year. He constantly misses easy 5 yard throws and cant even hit his 6’7 tight end he throws it at his ankles. His deep pass are all inaccurate jst lobbing the ball towards the sideline which usually ends up in a pick. Joe webb might not be a much better “thrower” but at least he can escape the pocket and not get sacked 50 times a game for holding onto the ball for 10 seconds like ponder does. There were many open receivers ponder just cant throw it to them.

  • Bob

    Time to go to the New York Jets and rent……Yes, I said R-E-N-T Tim Tebow! The know it all’s in the NFL claim Tebow can’t be successful in the typical QB spot and MN is successfully operating without a QB capable of needing deep passing game. There is currently no place in the NFL that can better showcase what Tebow can do. Ponder is a project gone bad and this would provide an interesting avenue for all parties involved. Think about it Peter King! Your voice could make it happen.