Jul 27, 2013; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) and wide receiver Jerome Simpson (81) and wide receiver Greg Jennings (15) and running back Adrian Peterson (28) talk in a break at training camp at Blakeslee Fields. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Jennings Thinks Christian Ponder Checks Down Too Much


In the most polite, good-teammate way possible, Greg Jennings has explained the essential problem with Christian Ponder.

Christian Ponder is afraid to go down the field.

Jennings spoke to ESPN on a number of matters, including the quarterback situation in Minnesota. As we all saw with our own eyes (and the stats bore it out rather starkly), Jennings performed much better last season when Matt Cassel and not Ponder was under center. And that wasn’t an accident.

Jennings told ESPN the basic difference between Cassel and Ponder. He was nice about it, but you can tell he isn’t particularly high on Ponder’s approach.

Both quarterbacks had different ways they saw the game, which is why you saw Matt and I have success. Christian and I, not that we didn’t have success, but his safety net was more of the checkdown. Matt, being in an offense where he’s been able to move the ball and have success in New England and Kansas City, he understands that in order to win games, you’ve got to move the ball down the field.

Essentially, Jennings is saying that Ponder is gun shy. Ponder doesn’t want to cut it loose down the field unless the receiver is wide open. And sometimes, as we also saw last year, even when the receiver is open Ponder still won’t cut it loose.

Ponder’s take-no-chances approach is probably at least partly the fault of the now-departed coaching staff, who clearly babied the quarterback too much, and never got him to where he felt comfortable letting it fly.

But it’s not all on the coaches. A player invested with natural confidence doesn’t need to be coached into an aggressive mindset. He has that mindset to begin with, and sometimes may need to be coached out of it, for his own protection.

Ponder is not aggressive enough by nature and was pushed into an even more timid mindset by Bill Musgrave and Leslie Frazier. It probably took Greg Jennings all of five minutes to figure out what the deal was with Ponder. It’s no shock that he prefers playing with Matt Cassel, a quarterback who, even if he is only average or slightly above overall, at least isn’t afraid to go deep when the opportunity presents.

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Tags: Christian Ponder Greg Jennings Matt Cassel Minnesota Vikings

  • Miller

    Its amazing how much you discredit ponder, yet every opportunity you get to keep him relevant in a viking conversation you write about it.. Why? Why bother? Aside from that, three other writers already beat you to this story

  • MikeH123

    I remember last preseason Ponder (and Frazier) said his arm had recovered from college injuries and he would throw downfield but alas he never did much.

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2844586/ JJSamurai

      He conected pretty well downfield when he took the risk. I think he just needs more time to let the plays develop, and be allowed to throw it more often. 20 attempts a game isn’t going to give many qbs a rhythm or confidence.

      • Timothy Solum

        I totally agree with you. All these doubters may be in for a surprise who this seasons starter is.

  • Timothy Solum

    I see very good qualities in Ponder, he is strong, moves very well, but he lacks that confidence that all QBs should have. Under the last batch of coaches with a head coach that just stood on the side line not showing any emotion and passion, it is no wonder Ponder hasn’t developed. I believe that under Zimmer and his staff they are going to bring out the best in Ponder and he may even be elevated to the starter.

    • jasonatomic

      Delusional.

    • Craig Lorenz

      You must be drunk if you think ponder will start. There’s a reason they drafted Bridgewater in the first after having a 1st rd pick that was a qb. He’s a career backup and his numbers and play show that. Ponder can’t handle pressure and like the article states is gun shy which you can’t teach out of him. Apparently the nfl is too fast for him and if he hasn’t grown used to it yet, he won’t. Quit blaming the coaches for ponders short comings.

      • Timothy Solum

        Dont live in Minnesota anymore where there are at least 2 bars per neighborhood, so no I am not drunk. Ponder was not a big name college QB or player for that matter. I had never heard of him until the Vikes drafted him and I was so mad they did, but Spielman did and end of story. So now the new staff can work with him and I believe he will be a much improved QB. As for not being able to over come being “gun shy” a person can over come that, it just takes the right people to help you over come that, just ask any Marine recruit that gets out of boot camp…they are ready to whoop some butt, and before they went in they were just boys that may have never touched a rifle or may have been affraid of small arms…ya getting my point?

    • JoeyVikes

      What good qualities? Checking down to the flat ..throwing a air balloon to the flat that’s a pick 6 ? Or how about staying in the pocket for 2 seconds panic and rollout to one side of the field and with incomplete the pass by throwing god knows where or my favorite to 2 yard pass on the rollout to Kyle or Felton …the guy blows and should be a waiter at Applebee’s ..my boys and i call him “2 for 20$”

      • Timothy Solum

        Look at the whole package not just the shortcomings…that’s what’s wrong…everyone focusing on the bad and always forgetting the good…typical.

        • JoeyVikes

          Lmao dude are you related to ponder? Are you his BFF? Are you Christian ponder???? Lmao dude WHAT GOOD?? He’s mark Sanchez the second! I was optimistic at one time …but that quickly changed

          • Timothy Solum

            It’s funny alright. People were singing his praises when he took them into the playoffs by beating the Packers in the final game of the season. Then he injured his arm and Webb came in and stunk it up in that playoff game. Who do you think had a better chance to help take GB down? Webb or a healthy Ponder? Everybody thought Webb was the man but he was waaaay worse than Ponder and who is no longer a Viking. If you read all my posts on this you will see I am not on the Ponder bandwagon, I just believe he has just as much of a chance as the other two so sue me but don’t chastise people because of their opinions. BTW, I’m not Ponder or his BFF, or the head of his fan club. I have seen sub par QBs turn it around under the right staff. Maybe you know who some are and one is Rich Gannon who went on to the Raiders and did some good things….more than he did as a Viking that’s for sure.

          • Craig Lorenz

            No one was singing his praise all he did was managed the game and let ap do all the hard work. Maybe you forgot that the pack already clinched the division and didn’t play half their starters that game. I hope he can beat the packers backups with our starters.

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2844586/ JJSamurai

            Really, that is interesting, Because CP7′s rookie season, he threw for 381 yards and 3 TD’s, for 32 points, against the #1 pass defense in the NFL that year. Guess what? Adrian Peterson didn’t play that game. No rushing game at all. Can CP7 carry the team Absolutely. Does the defense need to pull their tampons out and play like an NFL team? Absolutely.

          • Timothy Solum

            Finally somebody else who understands what I have been trying to convey. At least there is a few of us that know Ponder can be a decent QB in the NFL. If he can’t be a good QB for the Vikes because of politics I believe he can be a very good QB on another team willing to properly help him develope.

          • Jared Brown

            Yeah you’re right Ponder was QB the night of the Green Bay game and statistically that was the best night of his career but it’s impossible to forget that the reason the Vikings won that game was because Peterson got within 9 yards of Dickerson’s record in that game. Ponder performed a bit better when Peterson was in full beast mode but it’s a what have you done for me lately sort of thing, the inconsistencies. Ponder should have been playing like that every game because Peterson is his RB. When Peterson is your RB you should be unstoppable the Vikings clearly have not been that.

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2844586/ JJSamurai

            He has had a handful of those games. The one that stands out most in my mind is his rookie Season against Denver who had the top defense in the NFL that year, he put up 381 yards 3TD against that #1 defense that allowed Tim Tebow to go to the post season. Also, of note(He put 32 points on the board without Adrian Peterson, and Zero Rushing TD’s) The Vikings defense, however, was so bad 2011 that Tim Tebow had a career game with a passer rating of 149.1 against the Vikings. This Vikings offense is much better than people think. It’s just the defense has been so bad over the last 5 years. Can’t stop the run, can’t stop the pass, their only hope has been Jared Allen breaking up a play, by sacking the QB. Without Jared, there is no way they would have been able to stop anybody, or any team. I think Zimmer will get this team on track.

          • Timothy Solum

            I’m with you on that.

        • Craig Lorenz

          This is because you don’t win with a backup or third string qb

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2844586/ JJSamurai

            Definitely not with the Pop-warner Defense they have had the last 5 years. Face it besides Jared Allen the defense has been dogshit.

          • Timothy Solum

            Thanks for helping me state my case.

          • Timothy Solum

            Not true. Who came in for the only undefeated football team in NFL history (regular season playoffs and Super Bowl)

  • Daniel Laxen

    Finally, someone close to the situation said this…Jennings was upset many times by Ponder’s shortcomings. There’s no way he becomes the #1 QB again unless there are injuries to Cassel and Bridgewater…The writing is on the wall coming out of Mini camp and OTAs…No reps equal no chance, thank goodness!

    • Timothy Solum

      When full training camp rolls around then we all can make our assumptions, and until training camp and pre-season it is any of the three QBs position to lose or take. Ponder has just as much as a chance as the other two and Jennings was talking about last year. This is a new season, new coach and mostly new staff, don’t be surprised at what happens in the QB situation.

      • Jeremy Kraft

        what you’ve just said… is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul

        • Timothy Solum

          You claim to know the God I know yet you want to judge a Christian. Hypocrite, don’t get on here ranting at an opinion and then ask God to have mercy on someone’s soul. You are the one who needs mercy on yours, but before you can receive that mercy you sure as hades better learn to have it for others. Check out the book of Matthew chapter 7 and see what it says about judging…btw, those are the words of Jesus Himself. Shame on you and if you are not a Christian I’ll give you a free pass.

  • Jake

    The only things Zinksi writes about anymore are how much Ponder sucks and sports gossip. You’re a hack Zinski!

  • trinity

    You and Jennings are completely right Zinski. And that’s why ponder will be riding the pine as the 3rd stringer

  • Timothy Solum

    No more than you jasonatomic thinking Ponder doesn’t stand a chance. When pre season is over then we will all see and right now nothing is written on stone.

    • Craig Lorenz

      I guarentee you ponder rides the pine all year. That is if he is still on the team come the end of training camp as most teams won’t keep 3 qbs on the 53 man roster

      • Timothy Solum

        The only thing you or I can guarantee is the sun rising and setting, so unless you are God I wouldn’t be making such bold predictions. I made an opinion based on the position of QB being any of the 3 to win.

  • Timothy Solum

    BTW, I’m not on Ponders or anyone of the other two QBs band wagons. I have seen some great plays by Ponder as well as Cassel and have never seen Bridgewater one time. It is a wide open position and any one of the three can and has the same chance to earn it. I know I could not out play Ponder so I have no reason to bash him or any of the Vikes trying for a spot. I may be able to out coach Fraizer though.

  • JoeyVikes

    couldn’t agree more with this article and Greg Jennings..ponders first few games he was aggressive ..then it went downhill real real quick..0 confidence and terrible coaching

    • Timothy Solum

      You said it, TERRIBLE COACHING! Zero confidence too, but your coaching staff can help in being confidence builders. Quit listening to all of those buzz killers and prove them all wrong, those media experts are not always right. How many thought Ryan Leaf was better than Manning?

      • Craig Lorenz

        Timothy are you in love with ponder? Or do you simply just not watch the games. Look at his stats, watch the games he is not a starter in the nfl will never be one. He’d be a decent backup that’s all and you don’t pay a backup what his 5th year option would have. The coaches weren’t the best but a good, smart player should at least learn from his mistakes and not constantly keep making the same ones.

  • JoeyVikes

    I think this guy “Timothy” posting is Christian Ponder! Lol or Samantha ponder! Only they will stick up for him like this guy Timothy is lmao

    • Timothy Solum

      No, it’s your wife making these posts Joey, now shut up and get home and do the dishes and take out the garbage. I’m sick of this back and forth with you, can’t we just have normal conversations anymore like most normal couples? LMBBO!

      • JoeyVikes

        Ok man you have a right to your opinion..I just strongly disagree with it. SKOL P.S tell Christian I said hi before you kiss him goodnight ..lol just kidding

        • Timothy Solum

          Right on. A Viking SB is not far away.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2844586/ JJSamurai

    I am sorry which games had all the Matt Cassel Greg Jennings success? I watched the Carolina game, and the Bengals game and the Last lions game and I didn’t see any success? I saw Matt have more conpletions with the defense than the offense? I don’t know if anybody was watching those games?

    • Timothy Solum

      That Carolina game was pitiful. How great was Matt in that one. The Ponder bashers are typical…probably jealous that he’s playing the pro game and has a decent looking wife that doesn’t have more chins than a Chinese phone book.

  • Timothy Solum

    The one thing that is being said about Teddy is that he has small hands. Does anybody remember the last Viking QB with small hands? Culpepper. Once teams figured him out they knew to swat at the ball and most of the time he would fumble. Culpepper was good but his small hands caused him to lose the ball a lot.