Sunday, August 30, 2015

christian ponder

 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.

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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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Christian Ponder dove for the endzone during Thursday night’s victory against Washington and came up just shy of the touchdown and with a dislocated shoulder.  Luckily for him the injury was sustained on his non-throwing arm, he now has a long week to recover, and Adrian Peterson scored the touchdown for him one play later.

Ponder’s durability problems has again become a long-term concern since he has had to miss time twice now this season, but the short-term outlook may not be too shabby.  On Monday, Leslie Frazier said Ponder could start Sunday, but that they don’t want to put him in a position where he can’t protect himself and where he could do more damage.

Ponder described himself as “day to day” and said his range of motion was much better on Monday than it was on Friday.

Already missing tight end Kyle Rudolph, whichever quarterback starts on Sunday may have to be without the team’s leading receiver, as Jerome Simpson’s apology for his DWI may not be enough for the NFL or the Vikings to let him suit up.  One receiver that is looking healthy and ready to go is Percy Harvin, however, this time he is suiting up for the opponent.

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