With Josh Freeman on the shelf after experiencing “concussion-like symptoms,” Christian Ponder finds himself once again thrust into the starting lineup for the Vikings. Ponder will play this Sunday night as the reeling Vikings host the Green Bay Packers, but even if Ponder performs well on the big stage, don’t expect Rick Spielman to reverse course when it comes to his quarterback plans. Josh Freeman was brought to Minnesota for a reason: to replace Christian Ponder.
Make no mistake, there is no open QB competition in Minnesota. When Freeman is ready to return he will be back out there, regardless of what Ponder does in the meantime. This may seem unfair, but when did fairness ever have anything to do with the reality of life in the NFL? Ponder had his chance in the early season, and obviously the Vikings did not like what they saw. Hence the decision to move on Freeman.
The Freeman signing looks ill-advised in light of Monday night’s debacle against the Giants, but the Vikings certainly knew there was a chance Freeman might stink it up at first. Rick Spielman did not sign Freeman with the thought that he would come in and immediately turn around the Vikings’ fortunes. That move was a sign that Spielman has given up on 2013 and is already looking ahead to the future.
That future does not include Christian Ponder as a factor at starting quarterback. Ponder himself certainly realizes this. So in his mind, Sunday night’s game must be less about proving something to Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier, and more about showing the rest of the league that he can be a viable option at QB.
Don’t blame Ponder if he goes out Sunday night in a selfish frame of mind. Frankly, I think it might be better for the team if Ponder only thinks about himself. Maybe having a big old chip on his shoulder will finally help Ponder rise above mediocrity.
I’ll be the first to raise a cheer if Ponder goes out Sunday night and helps the Vikings pull off an improbable upset. But even if Ponder plays the greatest game of his life, nothing will change regarding his future prospects with the Vikings. He is a dead man walking in Minnesota. When opening day 2014 rolls around, Josh Freeman will be the starter. Or Teddy Bridgewater or Marcus Mariota or Johnny Manziel.
Anybody but Christian Ponder.