Monday, November 30, 2015

christian ponder

It is pretty hard to argue that Matt Cassel was anything other than the Vikings best quarterback in 2013.  It is also hard to argue that they don’t need to improve at the position and can’t afford to take steps backwards.

1500ESPN’s Darren Wolfson, however, reports that source told him Wednesday that Matt Cassel intends to void the second and final year of his Minnesota Contract.  If he indeed goes through with it, then he is essentially wagering that he can do better than the $3.7 million one-year deal he would have been playing for in 2014.

Many have expressed surprise that Cassel would bail on a nice payday like what he was owed, but I am not at all surprised.  I listed Cassel as the Vikings top internal free agent candidate and actually assumed he would void the deal.  With such slim pickings at the quarterback position this offseason when it comes to free agents, he could easily be trading a nice one year deal for a nice longer-term deal.

Both Josh McCown and Michael Vick are a few years older than Cassel, so is arguably the most attractive free agent option at the position this offseason.  He won’t be breaking anyone’s bank, that is for sure, but I’m sure he’ll come out of this with more long-term stability than if he had played under the one year deal.

The only real question for the Vikings at this point is whether or not they want to attempt to re-sign Cassel for more money and commitment, or begin the offseason by taking a small step backwards at the quarterback position while also clearing some cap space.  It would not be a total shocker to see Cassel still end up back in Minnesota to play under Norv Turner.

With quarterback Josh Freeman also scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, it is entirely possible that Christian Ponder is this team’s only quarterback option at this moment in time.

 The well-traveled Norv Turner is officially the new Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator. Unless Turner decides to show a new wrinkle at age 61, it’s safe to say the Vikings will employ a vertical passing attack mixed with a power running game long known as the Air Coryell offensive system.

 Turner takes over a Vikings’ offense that was ranked 23rd in passing in 2013, yet he has plenty of talent at the skill positions to work with moving forward. Norv Turner must be sleeping easy at night thinking about the damage Adrian Peterson could do running out of a spread formation. And the thought of a big TE like Kyle Rudolph with great hands and enough speed to stretch the field vertical, certainly has him dreaming of sugar-plums and candy canes. But possibly the sweetest vision dancing in Turner’s head might be his plan to develop Cordarrelle Patterson as one of the top wide receivers in the NFL.

 Before all the dreaming can become a reality though, Turner must find the long term answer at the quarterback position. The Vikings have the eighth pick in this year’s draft, so you can bet landing a franchise quarterback is high on Turners wish list.

 What does a typical Air Coryell quarterback look like? What quarterbacks in the 2014 draft fit the Norv Turner mold?

With Christian Ponder yet to pass the concussion tests required for him to suit up, and Josh Freeman still mysteriously riding the bench, the Vikings sound as if they’ll ride the hot hand of Matt Cassel for at least another week.

The weekly quarterback updates this season have been almost as tiring as all of the losses, but it is still important to note that Cassel will get the nod against Baltimore this week.  As of now, Leslie Frazier acknowledged that Cassel will start and Freeman will back him up, but qualified his statements by saying that could change should Ponder make quick progress.

“More than likely, Matt Cassel is going to end up being our starter for this ballgame,” Frazier said. “We’ll proceed accordingly, with Josh (Freeman) as his backup, understanding where Christian is, in trying to pass those tests. … It’ll probably be tough (for Ponder). If he were able to practice (Thursday), maybe — but we’re not planning on it.”

By pretty much every unit of measurement, Cassel has been the Vikings most successful quarterback this season, and for a coach who desperately needs to accumulate some wins it seems like the most logical choice by a long shot.

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For the first time this season the Vikings will face an opponent without much-criticized middle linebacker Erin Henderson.  This means reserve linebacker Audie Cole will get the nod, despite having been released and re-signed within the last few weeks.  It is also expected that rookie Michael Mauti will see some time at the spot with the first team.

The Vikings won’t have to be without Adrian Peterson as they face the Green Bay Packers.  Despite a nagging groin injury, Peterson is expected to play, as will receiver Greg Jennings who returns to face the Packers for the first time since leaving in free agency.

The Vikings inactives today:  QB Josh Freeman, LB Erin Henderson, CB Josh Robinson, TE Kyle Rudolph, G Jeff Baca, DT Chase Baker, and WR Rodney Smith.  This marks Freeman’s fifth inactive game since joining the Vikings and the team’s unwillingness to give him another crack at the starting job continues to puzzle many fans.

With the Packers missing Aaron rodgers today, however, Christian Ponder has a chance to finally be the best quarterback on the field.

We will be hosting our live chat for those interest.  If you want to join us:  CLICK HERE.

This has been a depressing season with plenty of losses to inspire some very critical things written on this blog, and elsewhere, about the Vikings.  So, after weeks of being a negative nelly, I decided to devote an entire post to some positives to take away from Thursday Night’s win against Washington.

1.  Sendejo Steps In

With Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford both injured the Vikings tested their secondary depth and the results were not as bad as many would have expected.  One guy that stuck out to me for the second straight week was reserve safety Andrew Sendejo who has a knack for the big hit.  Sendejo led the Vikings with eight solo tackles and was tied with Chad Greenway for a team-leading 16 total tackles.  His coverage skills need work, but he certainly made a case for himself to remain the starter, no matter how badly Jamarca Sanford wants to play against Percy Harvin.  Sanford will likely get his starting gig back this week, but it won’t be from a lack of effort on Sendejo’s part.

2.  Progression From Ponder

Whether or not Christian Ponder is able to progress enough over the long run to be the answer at quarterback remains to be seen, but there is no doubt he “progressed” in the short term.  Thursday night we saw a Christian Ponder that looked far better than we had seen from him since the end of last year.  He completed 17 of 21 passes for 174 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception prior to leaving the game with a dislocated shoulder.  His lone interception was ugly and all too familiar, but Ponder looked as cool and comfortable as he has in quite some time.  If he could play like he did Thursday on a more consistent basis then I have no doubt the Vikings fans would be far more welcoming than they have been of late.

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