1. Because Sid is a big fan.
Sid Hartman, the ever popular and widely read sport columnist that started covering the Vikings at the Star Tribune way back before face masks were invented (ok, that might be a stretch but it’s been a long time), thinks Christian Ponder could start game one.
2. A new system might mean a new and improved Christian Ponder.
Ponder doesn’t need to be on the field to improve as a quarterback. Ponder can absolutely get better as a leader and a signal caller just by standing next to Norv Turner soaking it all in. Vikings fans may never see the dividends of the positive impression Turner’s system and teaching might have on his NFL career. But if by chance his number is called, I will feel pretty comfortable that Ponder can lead the Vikings to a few late season wins if needed.
Last week, offensive coordinator Norv Turner addressed the media and spoke about the style of offense he is looking for and his desire to attack different defenses. “If you’re going to be a complete offense, you have to play great in situations – 3rd downs, red-zone, two-minute are the ones that are the most critical to me.”
If Ponder ever happens to make a name for himself as a solid NFL starting quarterback, Norv’s three critical areas will be the blue print and the wheelhouse for Ponder’s success.
3. Ponder is the best 3rd string quarterback in the NFC North.
Ponder has 35 career starts under his belt and has completed over 60 percent of his pass attempts in the NFL. His quarterback rate of 77.3 and his 38 touchdowns to 34 interceptions hasn’t exactly wowed Viking Nation, but compared to other 3rd string quarterbacks around the league and particularly in the NFC North, Ponder clearly is one of the more desirable #3 options to keep on the roster.
In Chicago, David Fales will make short work out of surpassing Jimmy Clausen for the #2 job behind Jay Cutler. If you think Clausen is a better option than Ponder, think again. Clausen has a 1-9 record as a starter completing under 53% of his attempts while throwing 3 touchdowns and 9 picks.
In Detroit, over the past 2 seasons, Kellen Moore has completed 71 of 126 (56.3%) preseason pass attempts throwing 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. 2014 will mark his year to move up the depth chart and solidify himself as Matthew Stafford’s primary backup. That leaves projected 3rd string quarterback Dan Orlovsky as our case study. His career record as a starter is 2 wins and 10 loses. Orlovsky has completed 58.5 % of his attempts, throwing 14 touchdown and 12 interception in the NFL. No thank you, I will keep Ponder please.
In Greenbay, Scott Tolzien will probably be the #3 guy behind Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn. Tolzien has completed 55 of 90 career attempts (61.1%) while chucking 1 touchdown to 5 interceptions. Again, I will take Ponder over Tolzien any day of the week.
4. Ponder has had his moments where he’s been good at: red-zone efficiency, moving the chains with his feet, and finding the slot receiver.
As a rookie, Ponder was #1 in the league in red-zone efficiency (QB rate over 107) and was in the top half of the league in 3rd down efficiency. In 2012, Ponder completed 41 of 69 passing while throwing 17 touchdowns and 2 picks with a QB rate of 94 while in the red-zone.
Ponder’s career 5.1 yard average per rush puts him up with dynamic quarterbacks like Russell Wilson (5.4), Cam Newton (5.6) and Colin Kaepernick (6.0). Ponder may lack franchise quarterback poise and pocket presence, but his happy feet can certainly make some big plays.
In 2012, Ponder connected with Percy Harvin 62 out of 85 targeted attempts. A 72.9% accuracy mark to your top target is exceptional. Ponder has also shown some accuracy when targeting Jarius Wright and Kyle Rudolph vertically down field.
Ponder has the ability to do a few things at a high level. Does that mean he gives us the “best” chance to win? No, but in the event of an emergency, I think he does gives the Vikings a “good” chance to win. Ponder has his share of flaws that’s for sure. The former Florida State quarterback has never shown good rhythm or accuracy with a true #1 wide reciever. Ponder also lacks discipline with his progressions and he doesn’t have natural pocket presence. Yes, the list goes on, but many of his flaws like the once listed can be improved and even corrected with time and better coaching.
5. Miracles can happen.
Seeing is believing. Ponder will help his stock, confidence and overall approval rating if he can pull off a couple come-from-behind wins in heroic fashion this preseason. Yes, Ponder has been booed and hated as a starter, but as a 3rd stringer and late-game preseason quarterback, he has enough talent, experience, and big play potential to bring the fans back to their feet.
In Norv’s presser, he also expressed his desire to be good in the forth quarter. “The biggest thing to me, and if you ask our player I think this is the thing I talk most about is we have to be a team that plays our best in the 4th quarter in the most critical times.”
I think Ponder will be asked to do more than just hand the ball off and milk the clock in the 4th quarter this preseason. I’m not expecting fireworks from Ponder, but I do anticipate seeing good play.
This article is meant to help those who suffer from Ponderophobia. It your anxiety or rage continues for more than 4 hours after reading this, please seek help immediately.