Reports on Christian Ponder have been mixed all through OTAs and into the beginning of minicamp. Terms like “spotty” keep being thrown out there to describe Ponder’s performance thus far in drills and long-time observers like Judd Zulgad are openly questioning Ponder’s footwork and sharpness. Zulgad said of Ponder:
Watching Christian Ponder out there, the footwork didn’t look great. The passes didn’t look all that sharp. You know what’s not there? Crispness/ There’s not a sharpness. At times you would expect things to look second nature to Ponder. … That’s not what we’re seeing so far.
Adam Schefter got in on the act by tweeting the following rather ominous report:
Christian Ponder is Vikings starter. Yet some believe Matt Cassel is good enough to challenge for starting job this year.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 18, 2013
The Pondermaniacs certainly have a response for these naysayers. YO IT’S ONLY OTAS AND MINICAMP! OUR GUY WILL BE READY TO ROCK BY THE SEASON!
Fair enough. But at the same time, you can’t help being at least a tad concerned. If you have an objective, rational bone in your body. We’re into Ponder’s third year now and he’s still struggling with footwork? He still looks like he’s not very sharp? The game still isn’t slowing down for him even in minicamp practices when everything should be relatively easy?
Sorry Pondermaniacs but things do not look good for your guy. You had better hope he is just strugging to shake off the offseason rust. You better hope the footwork thing gets sorted out. Because this year the Vikes have a legit #2 option in Matt Cassel.
This isn’t to say I think Ponder should be yanked at the first sign of trouble. I still believe the same way I believed last year during Ponder’s struggles. You are invested in this guy so you might as well leave him out there, even if he isn’t getting it done.
That really hasn’t changed in my mind. You are still invested in Ponder as the starter and you should still leave him out there until you have no choice. That’s why I’m not really buying the whole “Cassel could challenge Ponder” line. That feels more like made-up media drama than anything. Let’s stir up a quarterback controversy for the sake of hits!
A QB controversy would be good entertainment and certainly great for business around these parts, but I don’t believe one exists. Ponder is the starter no matter what happens in minicamp or regular camp or preseason. And I think he’ll be given plenty of leeway during the season too.
Bottom line: Rick Spielman drafted Ponder. A big chunk of his credibility as a GM is tied up in Ponder. So he’s going to make sure Ponder has a chance to prove himself. He didn’t spend all that dough on Greg Jennings just cause he likes Jennings’ mentoring ability. That was all about making Ponder better.
Will Ponder respond? Will he validate his GM and silence his doubters? We’re a long long way from knowing that. But the early reports are not promising.