The Vikings loss yesterday to the Seattle Seahawks was not pretty to the tune of 30 to 20. The talking heads of the media centered the loss on the offensive line, the entire defense and Christian Ponder. So far head coach Leslie Frazier has defended his quarterback to the media by saying “”I don’t necessarily think that Christian is the problem” following the game yesterday and then again today stated “I really haven’t thought about pulling him for a game and taking him out for a series or anything like that. There are times where he needs to stay in the pocket a little bit longer. He needs to be patient.” That’s all nice tongue and cheek from the head coach to the media, but we went back to rewatch the game charting the offensive line’s performance and Ponder’s throws. The Vikings coaching staff for surely did that today and it’s likely they’ll observe that Ponder is the culprit.
For all of the bashing of the offensive line, they actually held up fairly well versus an imposing Seattle defense. Left tackle Matt Kalil was flawless in pass protection not allowing a sack, hit or a hurry. Extremely impressive for a rookie, even if he was the 4th overall pick in the draft. Left guard Charlie Johnson and John Sullivan held up fine only allowing one hurry each. Right guard Brandon Fusco was the weakest link in the chain allowing a sack and a hit. And right tackle Phil Loadholt also allowed a sack and a hurry; however Loadholt was fantastic in run blocking paving the way for Adrian Peterson’s epic day. As for the other sack with Seattle having four on the day that one falls on Peterson failing to pick up strong safety Jeron Johnson on a blitz.
So with line holding up okay how did Ponder do with plays facing no pressure? Of the 22 passes he attempted, 19 of them were under no pressure going 10/19 for 58 yards and an interception. That equates to a dismal 3.1 YPA and 36.7 as a QB rating. Miserable. Absolutely pitiful. Repeat: Only 3 passes was he pressured! That’s especially concerning considering Seattle’s defense oftentimes moved strong safeties Johnson and Kam Chancellor into the box targeting Adrian given the day he was having. One could also argue that the Vikings don’t have a wide receiver outside of Percy Harvin, but of his 6 targets only two resulted in completions including Seattle’s lone interception. Plus it was Jerome Simpson who led the team in receiving yards. All 14 of them.
We can point fingers all we want at the defense for failing to perform… (pause) … And I’ll be the first to admit that it mostly starts in the middle of the unit with Letroy Guion looking like he doesn’t belong on any teams starting lineup and Jasper Brinkley becoming a liability in pass coverage as of late. Also Harrison Smith had debatably his worst game as a pro missing tackles… (continued) … But it’s tough to fault the defense when Seattle wins the time of possession battle 36 minutes to 24. On top of that, the Vikings were only able to put together three drives that lasted longer than 3 minutes.
Again, the Vikings have given every indication up to this point they’re standing by Ponder. Still unless there’s vast improvement very soon the Vikings will have no choice but to make a change. What we’ve seen lately can’t get much worse.
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig