Saturday, March 28, 2015
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christian ponder

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With plenty of blame to go around in the Vikings’ disappointing 0-3 start, fans are calling for a change at quarterback.

For those at Mall of America Field on Sunday afternoon, fans were heard chanting for backup quarterback Matt Cassel at various moments of the game—including the final play when quarterback Christian Ponder was sacked to end the game.

Ponder is reportedly on a much shorter leash than people think, but head coach Leslie Frazier said after the game that he doesn’t foresee making a switch at quarterback after he watches film from the game.

The 2013 NFL season has started off on the wrong foot for the Minnesota Vikings, and head coach Leslie Frazier is willingly taking the blame after dropping the first 2 games on the road against division opponents. I am all for Frazier being more hands on and establishing a stronger vocal approach with his players and staff, but I wouldn’t say he is the right person to blame for the losses.

 The Vikings have played hard, overcame some adversities, made plays, and put themselves in a position to win both games, but miscues, inconsistent play and poor execution has shown it’s ugly head much too often for the Vikings to secure a win. The team has had moments where they have played very well and have looked the part of a playoff caliber team, yet other moments of blunder and mayhem have haunted an otherwise solid overall effort.

 Fans can point the blame in a number of directions up and down the Vikings roster, but no player is more scrutinized than 3rd year QB Christian Ponder. After 2 games this year, Ponder’s play continues to resemble something you would see in a Robert Louis Stevenson mystery-horror novel.

 A 67 QB rate with twice as many interceptions as touchdown passes would scare the… pigskin off most football coaches. But not coach Frazier. Despite rumors of a short leash, Frazier stuck with Ponder through the good and the ugly at a rainy Soldier Field.

 With 3:02 left in the first half against the Bears, and the game knotted at 14 each, Ponder threw a pick six on 1st and 10 from the Vikings 31 yard line. Most coaches might have been tempted to pulled the plug at that point on the struggling QB. However, after the interception, Frazier went over and looked into Ponders eyes, said a few encouraging words and saw enough confidence in his QB to stick with him. Ponder went on to complete 12 of his next 18 passes including a 20 touchdown strike to Kyle Rudolph. Three nice second half drives led to Blair Walsh field goals that capped a solid second half performance.

 So which Christian Ponder will we see verses the Cleveland Browns this weekend?

 The Browns are 0-2 and have scored a combined 16 points in 2 games… so, this would be a great time for the “good” Mr. Ponder to make an extended appearance on Sunday. However, if the “ugly” Mr. Ponder shows up, the home crowd boo-birds might come out in full force. Will Leslie Frazier continue to be patient and wait around for the “good” Mr Ponder to come and go? Or could a more hands-on approach by “Dr.” Frazier be the answer to controlling the mysterious erratic play of young Mr. Ponder?

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After an ugly performance in Week 1’s 34-24 loss against the Lions, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder may see himself on the bench if he doesn’t improve soon.

Like—very, very soon.

According to Jay Glazer of FOX SportsPonder is on a short leash as the team’s starting quarterback.

“He’s on a much shorter leash than anybody has any idea about,” Glazer reported on the FOX NFL Sunday show. “Matt Cassel is in there doing all the right things. I think fans look at it and say this is Ponder’s team. No.

“From a lot of what I’m hearing inside that locker room, he’s on a much shorter leash than anybody has any idea about.”

Entering his third year as the starter, Ponder has 32 touchdowns and 36 turnovers (28 interceptions and 8 fumble losses) in that span.

The other day I hit a squirrel.  I didn’t mean to and I did everything I could to safely miss the thing.  I went right and so did the squirrel.  I went left and the squirrel reversed course and stayed right in front of me.  This went on for a number of slight swerves when suddenly a definitive “THUD” made the outcome of this little episode quite clear.

On Sunday afternoon, the Detroit Lions played the part of my car, doing seemingly everything they could to keep that squirrel (the Minnesota Vikings) alive.

In the end:  THUD.

Things started out fairly promising.  A botched field goal attempt led to the Vikings first offensive snap, which Adrian Peterson took to the house from 78 yards out, but it was all downhill from there.  Here are my graded observations from the action:

GRADE A

Watching Adrian Peterson take that ball 78 yards for a touchdown really gave me hope about this game.  Hope is officially dead for a week one win, but runs like that still give me hope for the rest of the season.  In the hours following this loss I had to keep reminding myself just how ugly that loss to Indianapolis was last year and that the 2012 Vikings were able to turn things around, so the 2013 version might be able to do the same.

Some of the noteable guys from last years squad that didn’t make my cut are: Brandon Burton, Larry Dean, Tyrone Mckenzie, Matt Asiata, Joe Berger, and Stephen Burton.

MBT and M Sherels won a spot on my list after a solid game Thursday night against the Titans.

Greg Childs is on the PUP list until week 6, after that he will either go on IR for the rest of the season or he could take a roster spot from Joe Webb or MBT.

Special Teams (3)

Jeff Locke, Blair Walsh, Cullen Loeffler

QB (3)

Christain Ponder, Matt Cassel, McCleod Bethel-Thompson

FB and RB (4)

Jerome Felton, Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Joe Banyard (keeping the seat warm for Felton the first 3 weeks will be Zach Line. The Vikings have 3 weeks to choose between Line or Banyard)

WR (5)

Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, Corrdarrelle Patterson, and Joe Webb

OL  and TE (11)

Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, Rhett Ellison, Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco, Phil Loadholt, Jeff Baca, Demarcus Love, and Seth Olsen (keeping the seat warm for D Love while he is suspended will be Kevin Murphy or Brandon Keith, too close for me to call) Jeff Baca or Seth Osen will play backup center. Bad snaps by Joe Berger in preseason cost him his job.

DE and DL (9)

Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Sharrif Floyd, Brian Robinson, Everson Griffen, Letroy Guion, Fred Evan, Christain Ballard, and D’Aundre Reed. (Keeping in the seat warm until Ballard returns is Everett Dawkins or Chase Baker, too close for me to call)

Linbackers (7)

Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson, Desmond Bishop, Marvin Mitchell, Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti.

DB’s (11)

Chris Cook, Josh Robinson, Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, Jamarca Sanford, Andrew Sendejo, AJ Jefferson, Bobby Felder, Marcus Sherels, Robert Blanton and Mistral Raymond.

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