It never fails.

I spend all day pouring over the Vikings game day media guide, hitting the “sort” button on some statistics page 508 different ways, and spend a couple of hours typing a preview.

Then, like clockwork, the comments from guys like “B. Grant” and “Tomb” end up being far more entertaining (and possibly more informative) than the article they were commenting on.  I recently decided to cut out the middle man, invite B. Grant and Tomb to contribute to VT on an official basis, and to my utter surprise they agreed.

So, when a topic worthy of some salty debate comes up, I am looking forward to seeing these two go back and forth.

Without further ado, I present to you the first installment of “Garbage Time” which features two of VT’s many great readers (and, now, writers).


Tomb:  Christian Ponder. You probably couldn’t find a more topical debate subject for the Viking faithful in light of recent performance(s). This subject clearly requires the rigorous application of statistics, feelings, instinct, history, visceral emotion etc. It’s something that could really use a technical and measured preface to get things rolling; requires a bit of a football nerd, if you will. Luckily, Coach, ‘nerd’ is right up your alley, so I yield the floor to you. We can pretend I’m doing it as a respectful gesture to a treasured elder of VT, if it feels better. I’m happy to play along!

B. Grant:  Let’s go with the “treasured elder”, shall we? I wouldn’t want to take any of the glory of the full fledged nerd role that you will bring to these discussions.

Yes, Christian Ponder. I actually understand most of what you said there, Tomb, which in and of itself is out of the ordinary. And surprisingly enough (insert sarcastic tone) I fail to agree with much of it. The selection of a QB is not a statistical process, as numbers are a great source of being misled when it comes to evaluating a QB. No position in football is more complex than this one, and no position is more dependent on the performance of others, which is why I tend to withhold my judgment of Ponder at this time. Of greater disappointment to me this season is the offensive line, upon which all QB’s trust their very existence. I thought we would see more protection for him this year, thus giving us a better read on his potential, but alas, that has not been the case. Yes, he may be exiting the pocket a bit early at times, but that is like telling the passengers on the Titanic to wait it out, this thing will level itself off. He’s just trying to save the play in most cases. There is plenty of blame to go around for offensive (both literal and figurative) performances like this past Sunday.

I know I’ve made this difficult for you, Tomb. For any credibility in your response, a position other than “you’re absolutely right, Coach” will be a hard one to take. Do your best, Wordmaster.

Tomb:  There’s a joke about treasure often being found buried somewhere in there, but I’m much too dignified to engage in such low-brow hijinx.

Let’s just jump right into this little nugget of ephemera: “The selection of a QB is not a statistical process, as numbers are a great source of being misled when it comes to evaluating a QB.” Know who says things like that? People that are bad at math. It’s a common malady. Hell, I read somewhere that 5 out of 4 people are bad at fractions. When you were coaching, did it make a difference whether it was 4th and inches, or 4th and 47 when it came time to decide to go for it or not? The odds of converting the former are decidedly better than the latter. It’s called playing the odds, which is a close cousin to statistics. Not creepy, like kissing cousins, but more like aristocratic cousins at a fancy soiree, wearing silken cravats and playing croquet. One of them may even be wearing a monocle, but I can’t be completely certain of that, so I don’t want to pretend there is any established veracity to that comment when there may well not be. Whether or not said monocle is employed or even present, however, doesn’t change my point, as the event is clearly a courtly affair either way, above any petty denigration.

My apologies. I may have slightly digressed, so back to The Big Reach, Mr. Ponder. I’ll give him credit for one thing; it took years for McNabb to master the 3 yard dirt pass to a receiver 4 yards deep on a consistent basis, while BR seems to be embracing it with all the enthusiasm of a teenage boy feeding his prom date liquor. Leaving “newfangled gosh diddly-darn hokum” things aside, like math and stats, the notably lackluster performances of late leaves me desperately striving for such lofty goals as mediocrity from the QB position. I understand having an OL that provides all the protection of a Trojan with a pinhole isn’t helping him, but I think we’re witnessing the second coming of Joey Harrington. Take away the YAC yards of a Percy Harvin dump pass, and get used to the losing. My finger’s hovering over the “bust” button on this kid; he needs to do something, anything, remotely impressive real quick-like.

I’ll now accept your concession speech.

B. Grant:  Concede I will, my friend, to the fact that you are far better than I at taking 2 sentences worth of questionably viable information and turning it into 2 paragraphs of total random confusion for 98% of the readers in the world. (and I don’t ever want to meet that other 2%!). But don’t give me that innocence when it comes to participation in “low-brow hijinx”. You’re a card-carrying member of that club.

Let me get this straight. You are paralleling the decision to stick with or abandon a QB with the decision between 4th & inches and 4th and 47. I suppose if we were comparing Peyton Manning to Kelly Holcomb, I could begin to accept that you might have a slight point. But we are not, and you do not.

So…. can we move past the Big Reach label anytime in this decade? Let it go, man! Where Christian Ponder was picked in the draft means about as much as the 2012 presidential vote tally in Florida… squat! He’s here, he’s currently the #1 QB, and he needs to have a good game this week for us to stay in the playoff hunt.

Let me make it clear that I am not a died-in-the-wool Christian Ponder apologist. He may be the next Joey Harrington, he will never be the next Tom Brady, but he may also be the next Rich Gannon, who needed a little time to find his game, but became a pretty darn good NFL quarterback. Keep this simple (if you somehow can) — you stick with Ponder through the year, and decide your direction prior to the draft next spring. This isn’t rocket surgery, Tomb, and a statistical analysis at this time will only give you a headache.

As far as people wearing monocles and cravats at some sort of backyard shin-dig… you win.

Tomb:  “Concede I will, my friend, to the fact that you are far better than I…”

Thank you. It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong. You did a fine job. Now let’s move on to your other points of contention.

First, my 4th down analogy was only a quickly crafted hyperbole to illustrate that stats & numbers matter in decision making. You know, if you fully embrace numbers, you can make outstanding jokes like “calculus and alcohol don’t mix, never drink and derive.” Hahahaha!! Yeah, that’s the good stuff right there. Feel free to steal it.

Next, The Big Reach label goes nowhere until he proves me wrong, or he becomes The Big Replaced. He should have been picked around the area of Dalton or Kaepernick, not 12th overall. I’d take either of those other two jokers over BR right now. Maybe he was thrown to the wolves too quickly, maybe the OL isn’t doing him any favors, maybe the receivers aren’t getting open, but none of these things factor into throwing short on a bubble screen. He really seems to be getting worse instead of better.

Now if you’d cease and desist from your role as Ponder apologist, we could maybe move on and get some things resolved.

B. Grant:


OK, first, let’s operate under the assumption that you have a reading comprehension disability. How anything I said here could be construed as being an apologist for Ponder is a clear indication that you have less of a grasp on the English language than I had previously assumed.

Second, I know a reach when I see one, which includes my daughter’s first three boyfriends (and BTW, you sound an awful lot like number 2. So help me, if there is a Craftsman 1/2 inch variable speed drill in your garage with the serial num…… never mind.) But if you insist that the decision on the future of Ponder needs to include where he was drafted, let’s let you have that one. (since it’s the only “one” you have a chance at here.) And if we want to use your numbers approach, Mr. Calculus, Ponder has the following rankings among the nine first and second yr. QB’s with 200 or more attempts: Completion Pct. (3rd), Completions (3rd), TD’s (4th), QB Rating (5th), Yards (7th). Use those numbers however you want, but there will be guys below him in those rankings playing QB in the NFL the rest of this year and next year.

But tell me this, O Wordy One; what would you have Leslie Frazier do at this stage in the season? Switch to Webb or the other guy? Sign a QB off someone else’s practice squad? Snap the ball directly to Adrian and Percy the rest of the year? NO. You play him, coach him, and do all you can to make him the QB of your future.

Now obviously, and finally, this expression of logic and common sense ends the discussion until after the season is over. And just so you know, that “joke” of yours now entitles me to a future pun of my choosing. Thank you very much.

Tomb:  Come to think of it, I do have a Craftsman 1/2 inch variable speed drill in my garage, but the serial number seems to have been filed off. That’s strange.

Anyways, as much as it absolutely PAINS me to agree on anything with a guy who considers puns viable comedy, we apparently concur that we are stuck with BR through the end of this season.