Training camp is only ten short days away, and there is no question all eyes will be on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. As we all know, Ponder had the very definition of an “up and down” season in 2012. He started off great during the team’s first five games, recording no interceptions and leading the charge in a huge week 3 upset over San Francisco, a game in which he completed 21 of 35 passes for 198 yards, 2 touchdowns, and scored on an incredible 23 yard rushing touchdown.
Luck seemed to distance itself from Ponder after week five where, over a ten game span, Ponder failed to reach 200 passing yards seven times, and even failed to reach 100 passing yards three times. The Vikings as a team hit a slump as well because of this after starting off 4-1 in their first five games, ending up 6-6 after twelve games. We all know how the story goes from there, winning the next four games in a row and making the playoffs, and although Adrian Peterson was the main reason for that success, Ponder’s play over those last four games speaks, as well. He threw 4 touchdowns against just 1 interception over the last four games, and had the best game of his career in week 17 at home against the Packers, throwing for 234 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Ponder finished the season with 2,935 yards, 18 passing touchdowns (2 rushing), 12 interceptions, a completion percentage of 62.1%, and a quarterback rating of 81.2.
Although it was not a great season for Ponder, improvement was made in almost every category. He’s shown flashes of brilliance in each of his first two seasons, and with a great offensive line, a new and extremely talented group of receivers, and blossoming Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph, I don’t see how Ponder can’t succeed this year. Will he continue making mistakes? I’m sure we’ll still see some boneheaded passes here and there, but talent surrounding him should give him confidence and allow him to have a legitimate chance at displaying his full potential.
I think Ponder will finish the season with 26 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and 3,581 yards (3 rushing touchdowns).
This will be a make or break year for Christian Ponder, and he knows it. He’s a smart guy.