Feb 21, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman speaks at a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Spielman Hints That Bill Musgrave Is to Blame For Ponder Failure


Who is really to blame for Christian Ponder being a bust as a #12 overall pick?

Nobody’s getting called out by name here, but a subtle hint was dropped by Rick Spielman about the subject on Friday when the Vikings general manager spoke to reporters on Ponder’s future with the team.

For the record, Spielman says the Vikings are looking to add a quarterback, but indicated that he’s not sold on taking one with the #8 overall pick and is looking to trade back. This is in line with Spielman’s earlier statements about wanting to accumulate draft picks.

The interesting part came when Spielman discussed Ponder himself. He says the plan is to have Ponder on the team in 2014. Well duh, if you’re looking to trade a guy, you’re not going to admit you want to trade him. That’s just basic general manager stuff.

But read between the lines and I think Spielman tipped his hand on what he really thinks of Ponder and how the last three years went down.

“You can see the physical things but there’s much more beyond physical that goes into that position,” Spielman said. “I know he does have the physical abilities to do it but for whatever reason things haven’t come together for him.”

Okay Rick, I see what you’re doing there. Ponder has the tools to be a good quarterback but “for whatever reason things haven’t come together for him.”

What could that reason be? Coaching?

Yes, I think Spielman subtly dropped the blame for the failed Ponder experiment on the shoulders of Bill Musgrave, the ex-offensive coordinator and alleged QB guru.

When Musgrave was hired, we heard he was being brought in specifically to develop a young QB. The Vikings then drafted him a young QB named Christian Ponder. Three frustrating seasons later, the Vikings are again looking for answers at QB.

Many fans blame Spielman for “reaching” to draft Ponder at 12 overall. In hindsight, they believe the Vikings should have taken Andy Dalton or Colin Kaepernick or even Ryan Mallett, who is now the subject of trade rumors.

What Spielman’s basically saying here to me is, “Don’t blame me. We scouted the guy. He looked good. There’s no way for us to know what’s inside a guy’s head when we draft him. It’s up to coaches to mold and shape that guy and get him into the right place mentally. And our coaches dropped the ball.”

So don’t blame Spielman for making the wrong call on Ponder. Blame Musgrave for not developing Ponder as expected.

Perfect, when Musgrave isn’t around anymore.

It’s water under the bridge now, you can say. And Spielman has a chance to make up for it by making a good call on the quarterback this time around. What will that call be? That’s anyone’s guess.

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Tags: Bill Musgrave Christian Ponder Minnesota Vikings Rick Spielman

  • coolhand

    Let’s be honest, Christian Ponder is the most responsible for the failures of Christian Ponder.

  • 3kolu

    Musgrave wasn’t as advertised. It was up to him to develop an offense that was successful and he didn’t. However, it wasn’t Musgrave who threw all those INT’s either.

  • Johnny

    Don’t know where you getting all that? Rick took responsibility for Ponder at the presser when they fired Frazier. He really wasn’t the one in charge at that time but didn’t shy away from it and probably could have if he wanted to. But your right failure on offense was Musgraves fault. With out AP that coaching staff would have been fired year one.

  • Robert Blake

    I think the author is reading a lot into Speilman’s comment. He said nothing about coaching, he just said Ponder has not put everything together. That is a basic fact that everyone knows. It is keeping your intentions and thoughts unknown. That is what Speilman did. Leaked no valuable information.

  • David Mallow

    Yes Ponder needs work, but Musgraves incapability of developing him in any way hurt him alot more than people think. . His play calling was atrocious and if Ponder was actually put into a situation with good coaches he would’ve done better. Yes coaching is a HUGE part of the way players develop. So I agree 90% Musgrave 10% Ponder. If he doesnt show improvement or anything positive under GREAT leadership then it will be time to move on. But hes already paid for with guaranteed money so why not see if Turner and Co. Can get something more out of him? Its a low risk high rewward scenario, plus he wouldn’t be the starter this year anyways

  • Forest Marsden

    He simply doesnt have the tools nor at the point the mental composure to excel. At best he is a back up. Three words, maybe four, u will never see in the same sentence. Ponder, Spielman, Super Bowl

    • David Mallow

      Ponder will not be the starter in Minnesota again, trust me. This in my opinion is a smoke screen.Spielman knows his job is on the line,plus he is allowing Zimmer and Turner evaluate players which is a great thing.Turner will put the best option on the field and it will be a good product

  • Gordon Guffey

    Just reading the replies I dont understand how anyone can say Ponder doesn’t have the tools or talent ~ According to Turner and Spielman Ponder does have the tools ~ They have both talked about some of the big plays Ponder has made ~ Weak arm you say you might want to go look up on youtube where it shows Ponder hitting Harvin in the endzone from 55 yards our while on the run ~ Or look at the fist downs Ponder had picked up with his legs ~

    We all know Ponder is a smart guy by his GPA avg. while in college ~ But is he football smart ~ I think this might be where Ponder has trouble but this has nothing to do with talent ~ Also I read somewhere that the WR route tree may have cased Ponder~Cassel as much trouble as blitzing LBers ~

    Lastly if Norv says he has what it takes come opening day I dont know how anyone of us could say a bad thing about him starting Ponder see how Norv has 30 in the NFL as OCHC and we have not a single year under our belts ~

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  • Dale Ailes

    It wasn’t Musgrave that taught Ponder to stare down his receivers, it wasn’t Musgrave that made Ponder only look one way and miss open receivers constantly. It wasn’t Musgrave that made him throw so many errand passes. If ponder starts next year, the plan must be to throw the season so they can draft Mariotta next year