Josh Freeman suffered a concussion at some point during Monday night’s debacle and will most likely be on the shelf for Sunday night’s showdown with the Packers. You know what that means Viking fans. Christian Ponder is back behind center as the starting quarterback for the Vikes. Like it or not.
If you happened to be paying attention this afternoon to the various media reports about Freeman’s concussion and Ponder’s at least temporary re-promotion to #1, you read a whole lot of remarks from various people about Ponder and how he might fare back in his starting role. A theme gradually emerged, at least in the comments coming from those within the Vikings organization. That theme? “The benching could actually be good for Christian Ponder.”
“I think it was good for me to kind of take a step back for a couple weeks and take a deep breath and learn from those first three games and get out there and play better,” Ponder said himself. “I’m excited for this opportunity.”
Of course that’s what you expect Ponder to say, but what about his teammates? Greg Jennings had some particularly interesting opinions about Ponder’s return and how sitting for a few weeks might actually benefit the quarterback.
“Anytime you have to take a back seat, anytime you have to sit down for a minute, it gives you time to reflect — and I think that he’s done that,” Jennings said. “I think that he’s seen how important it is to play at a high level at that position, but even more importantly, how important that position is to the overall success of the team and what it takes to actually hold that position.
“It’s not just about your quarterback play — it’s about how you lead off the field as well, and on the field. How you command the huddle. How you demand things of your teammates.”
This is not the first time the leadership issue has come up regarding Ponder. In fact it has been the most consistent complaint about Ponder from his teammates, that he isn’t enough of a leader either on the field or in the locker room. Perhaps the most pointed remarks on this subject came from Adrian Peterson, not when talking about Ponder, but when talking about Matt Cassel after the Pittsburgh game.
In the wake of that victory, still the only Vikings win of the year, Peterson remarked upon how different the vibe was with Cassel behind center, how commanding Cassel was in the huddle and how guys “bought into” what Cassel was saying. This was as much a slam of Ponder, in my mind, as if Peterson had come right out and trash-talked Ponder.
Ponder himself says he realizes the need to be more vocal and to step into more of a leadership role. He says he intends to “take ahold of [the starting QB] position, because I don’t want to give it back.”
We’ve heard things like this from Ponder before, but when the game starts he always reverts back to his basic nature, which is not that of a leader. Did being benched change Christian Ponder enough that now he will take command and make this his team?
I seriously doubt it. Thanks to Freeman’s suspicious concussion, Ponder will get his chance to begin proving me wrong Sunday night against the Packers.