Are you listening Christian Ponder? Cause Jared Allen has a little message for you. A message that has been coming through loud and clear all offseason. That message is simple: “You need to step it up and become a real quarterback young man. Pull up those big boy pants and get it done.”
Twice now Allen has sent these dispatches from 69 HQ to the House of Ponder. A couple months ago he talked about Ponder’s need to develop his consistency while at the same time praising Ponder’s growing leadership down the stretch of 2012. He said nice things about Christian but he also made it clear that Christian has areas where he can improve.
Jared’s most recent dispatch was along the same lines. Speaking to NFL.com’s, Jared talked about the Vikings’ “old-school” offensive style and how this style can lead to wins even in an NFL dominated by passing. Jared cited Adrian Peterson’s brilliance as the key to success. But then he dropped this line too:
Yeah, we need consistent play out of the quarterback position [in addition to our great running game]. We need to be able to throw the ball to open up the passing game…but to have that consistency, to be able to have a guy that you know can put up 100 yards on you, and maybe 200 the way he ran last year…the opposing team’s game plan, they have to prepare [for] both.
Again Jared brings up the dreaded “c” word. It’s clear where he thinks Ponder is lacking. I suppose the Pondermaniacs think Jared’s a hater now?
But of course he’s not a hater, he’s just doing his job as a veteran. He knows where the Vikings’ deficiencies are on offense. He knows Ponder’s lack of consistency and leadership presence are problems that could hold back the team. Stating that truth in a straight-forward non-ripping way is not “negativity” no matter what certain uptight people may think. It’s just a veteran trying to help motivate a younger player who still needs a little kick in the pants.
Jared knows what’s what, and he’s never been afraid to speak his mind on these matters. Great thing about Jared is that there’s a little bit of the politician to him. He says what he thinks but without seeming confrontational or overly-critical. He just lays it out there, often with a sugar-coating of humor.
Will Ponder get the message? I think he already has gotten the message. I don’t think he needs Jared’s words to know that things are a little different around Viking Nation this year. That there’s a greater sense of urgency now in the third year of his tenure. He got that message the second the Vikings signed Matt Cassel.
No Christian, Joe Webb is no longer your backup. Leslie Frazier now has a legit veteran option. We know how slow Leslie is on the hook usually, but we also know that the QB position is a different animal. There’s more pressure on the QB and there’s also more pressure on the coach to do what’s right at that position.
Ponder will still get a chance to prove himself. But if we get to the middle of the season and the QB isn’t pulling his weight? I believe Frazier will get out the hook. No excuses this year for Ponder. But he doesn’t need me or any other outsider to tell him that. He’s already gotten that message from Jared Allen and Rick Spielman. That ought to be enough.