Leslie Frazier On Drafting Christian Ponder Over Andy Dalton: “It Worked Out Fine”


Dec 15, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Eagles 48-30. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Leslie Frazier has no apparent regrets over drafting Christian Ponder instead of Andy Dalton. Even though Dalton has developed into a far superior NFL quarterback.

Even though, partly thanks to Ponder’s failure, Frazier is on his way to being unemployed.

The Dalton vs. Ponder subject came up Wednesday during Frazier’s media session – naturally, because the Vikings are playing the Bengals this week – and Frazier was typically Frazier about the whole thing. He refused to throw anyone under the bus. He threw out the company line, logic and reason be damned.

“We targeted Christian and it worked out fine. He was our guy… Andy’s done a good job,” Frazier said.

It worked out fine?

Even if you cut Ponder slack for the messed-up situation he was initially forced into – lack of offseason work his rookie year due to lock-out, Donovan McNabb debacle, Bill Musgrave attempting to install a new offense, rebuilding O-line, lack of receiver talent – it’s hard to argue that Ponder “worked out fine.” Not without twisting your argument into all sorts of interesting pretzel-like shapes. Or just flat out deluding yourself.

There’s just too much stuff with Ponder, too much stuff you can’t ignore. The terrible decision making. The lack of downfield accuracy. The non-existent pocket presence. The maddening inability to read defenses either pre-snap or post-snap.

Yes, Dalton had a lot of advantages going into the Bengals situation. A really good line. One really great receiving target in A.J. Green. An offensive coordinator not named Bill Musgrave.

But that’s the hell of it. You can’t make a determination based on what ifs. You can only look at the evidence there in front of you. The statistical evidence. The video evidence. The cold hard facts.

And the cold hard facts, when you take all of them together and look at them rationally and objectively, is that Christian Ponder has not in any way shape or form worked out fine for the Vikings and Leslie Frazier. Especially not when you stack his career up against Andy Dalton’s.

This by the way is not an attempt to second-guess the draft pick. It’s easy with hindsight to say the Vikings should have taken Dalton instead of Ponder. But at the time, it wasn’t such a clear call to make. Dalton didn’t get drafted until the early second, so obviously teams had reservations about him. Not just the Vikings. All the teams.

A case could have been made then for taking Dalton, but an equal or arguably greater case could have been made for taking Ponder. The Vikings took Ponder and it turned out to be wrong. But it wasn’t like the world exploded with outrage at the time. It wasn’t like draft wonks were screaming their heads off about the Vikings being idiots.

My issue isn’t with the draft pick. It happened. It was three years ago. It’s not worth rehashing. My issue is with Leslie Frazier uttering the words “it worked out fine.”

No Leslie, no it didn’t. And you know that.

Frazier will never say it, but you know he is kicking himself today. He wishes the Vikings had taken Dalton instead of Ponder. Or Kaepernick instead of Ponder. Or Nick Fairley instead of Ponder. Anyone instead of Ponder.

He wishes he had never heard Christian Ponder’s name or seen his face. He knows that, had his quarterback been just a little bit better than Christian Ponder, he would not be fighting for his job right now. He would not be going into Christmas wondering about his future.

Hey, you know what? Mistakes happen. Bad draft picks are made. Players you think are good don’t work out. Every team goes through it. But some teams handle the problems better than others, both internally and externally. Not all teams take a mess and make it into a catastrophe. Not all teams attempt to weasel their way through the self-created morass via ridiculous PR double-speak.

No, I don’t expect Leslie Frazier to slam Christian Ponder. I don’t expect him to tell the total truth about what he feels. But “it worked out fine?” That is so weak. Not because it’s a lie, but because it’s a sad, furtive, weaselly cop-out lie. It’s just so Frazier. So handed-down-from-the-front-office and lazy and eye-rolling.

Lie to me, cause you’re going to lie to me. Just don’t lie to me like that. Put some effort into it. Show some spunk. Don’t shuffle off like a sad broken downcast loser.

Poor Leslie Frazier. Poor poor dope. He’s going to go out like he came in, stammering and clueless. Loyal to the last. Regurgitating Rick Spelman’s talking points like an overwhelmed spokesman. Baghdad Leslie. It worked out fine.

Sure Les. Sure it did.

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