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


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

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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