Like many of the fans that resist the urge to call for the immediate benching of Ponder or firing of Musgrave/Frazier, I have received my fair share of nonsense from people claiming that I need to “take the blinders off” when I try to keep a positive outlook after the debacle in Detroit.
I’ve come to realize that the jeers that I (and others) receive come from a fan base that is frustrated with a team that can’t seem to get over the hump to the next level, especially from the quarterback position. Yet, even with my own frustrations and fading levels of confidence, I can’t help but feel like this is the way that it is supposed to play out.
Vikings fans as a whole and critics alike push the issue of whether or not Christian Ponder can handle a starting role in the NFL on a weekly basis. Ponder receives a harsh amount of judgment as a result of a stellar running game that is respected by defenses around the NFL. Whether it is fair or not, the assumption is made that any quarterback that is worth his salt should be able to thrive in a system that is run-heavy and is defended as such. Maybe so – I’m not arguing for or against that concept.
Like it or not, Christian Ponder is the Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback. In just his second full season as the Vikings’ signal caller, Ponder finally has some reliable weapons that he can lean on in the passing game. Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, Kyle Rudolph and the addition of Cordarrelle Patterson have given Ponder the tools necessary to have an effective passing game. Anyone who can honestly say that Ponder had a stable receiving corps to deal with in 2012 obviously wasn’t watching (and most certainly missed the entire month of December).
After this 0-1 start, the doubt of Ponder’s ability yet again creeps in from a group of fans whose patience is growing thin. Ponder has thrown himself into yet another quarterback controversy as a result of his own inadequacies early in the 2013 regular season. The Vikings continue to feel the growing pains associated with revamping a franchise that is long overdue in the hunt to find a true franchise quarterback. While some fans may feel a certain level of disgust with how it has been handled, those with a long-term outlook on the situation understand that this is very much a “prove it” year for Ponder.
I can’t say that I’m upset this adversity that Ponder continues to face. Either he has what it takes or he doesn’t. Overcoming early losses and pressure will be the true measure of his potential success. With access to all the weapons that he needs on offense, I’m ready to stop making excuses for Ponder and ready to see what he’s got during the 2013 season – if he doesn’t perform, it’s time to look for other options. It’s pretty easy to lose sight on what the bigger picture is with a great running game and the idea that it could be gone in an instant, but we can’t ignore the philosophy that this franchise needs to string together years of success to be considered a serious contender in the future.
Follow Greg Jensen on Twitter – @JensenGregory