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Lessons Learned: Patience Isn’t Always A Virtue

The company line at Winter Park this week is going to be that the Vikings still control their own destiny, and that Christian Ponder will be the quarterback to lead this team to the playoffs.

While this is mathematically a possibility, the truth is that the Vikings playoff hopes died on Lambeau Field Sunday when Ponder nearly failed to throw for over 100 yards and had a pair of untimely interceptions that quite literally robbed his own team of hard earned points.

Sure, there are plenty of other things to point to that went wrong on Sunday.  The referees (and I hardly ever resort to this) made a number of calls that left many wondering if Ed Hochuli plans to retire in Green Bay.  Blair Walsh’s missed field goal in the fourth quarter was the nail in the coffin.  Receivers continued to struggle to get open.  Bill Musgrave once again failed to get Adrian Peterson a handoff, not even once, in the fourth quarter.

All of these things can be viewed as unacceptable, but none were more glaring than the horrendous display put on by Ponder against the team fans want to beat the most.

I can’t fault the Vikings staff for starting Ponder today, and I can’t fault them for starting him next week against Chicago, but their decision to keep Joe Webb on the bench following Ponder’s second interception has left me dumbfounded.

You want to be patient with young quarterbacks.  You want them to learn from mistakes and learn how to rebound after committing them.  You want to get a full season’s worth of game tape for evaluation purposes during the offseason.  More than anything, you want to prove everyone else wrong and let him lead you to victory.

Still, with all of those things in mind, what was expected to be gained by keeping Ponder in the game?

Joe Webb has proven to be one the NFL’s best change-up pitchers in the NFL and Ponder gave absolutely no indication that he could win this game, even with Peterson’s ridiculous numbers.  Webb, while not viewed as a viable long term option, should have been allowed to try and redeem the game and put the Vikings (and Christian Ponder) in a position to see postseason action.

Instead, the Vikings chose to place the “development” of their first round quarterback ahead of the team goal of winning a championship, and kept Ponder on the field only long enough to gain a few more yards against a prevent defense.

Whether the call was up to Leslie Frazier, Bill Musgrave, Rick Spielman, or even Zygi Wilf himself, 52 other players and an entire fan base had to suffer Sunday due to the irrational stubbornness displayed by the Minnesota Vikings.

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. Unfortunately, I don’t think the lesson is going to be learned by the coaches. If they had put Webb in after that first pick they win this game and have a chance to extend their season. They should have done this in the Seattle game earlier this year and failed to do so. I understand trying to let him play through the rough times, but Ponder did not have the look of a guy who thought he could win the game. As you said, Webb has already shown that he can come in and make things happen against D’s that aren’t expecting to see him. That should be his role on this team. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to feature him from time to time in that role to get some great tape out there for him. Maybe trick some other team into giving up a draft pick for his rights, because there is little chance he’s going to re-sign with us two off-season’s from now.

  2. yup, webb should’ve gone in, or mbt, or the water boy. ponder has to be racking up some all time game lows

    1. I prefer McLeod John Balthazar Bethel-Thompson. The guy reminds me of a poor mans Favre, an old school gunslinger which is probably the most entertaining type of QB to watch. He will throw for record TD’s but will probably have mid teens ints too. MJBBT could be good I’m tellin ya.

  3. It’s very obvious that Webb gives them the best chance of winning right now, period. This is Fraziers call and he’s responsible for the decision to leave Ponder out there. When they get screwed on an officials call why doesnt Frazier at least give them an earfull? Amazing

  4. Article from Seifert- ” I wonder what message the rest of the team hears when an underperforming player routinely is held unaccountable for his play.”
    Guys will tend to get frustrated at that. I have played on teams with that problem…it can get…ugly.

  5. As a teammate you have to support each other. Everyone is gonna have a bad game, so you have to understand. Cause it may be you next week. But, when it turns into the next week, then the next one. Maybe one week you win and it seems better, but then it happens again. And you lose again, even as other guys are playing their hearts out. You still lose…
    It reaches a point, you gotta say something. Outwardly you support and say the right things. It’s up to the veteran guys, to go to the coach and say, “Hey Coach, with all due respect, we think a change here is in order. ”
    I’m willing to bet that will be happening soon, if it hasn’t already.

    Asked if he’s concerned about how that will play in the locker room, Frazier said, “I don’t think it’ll be a tough sell. These guys are teammates that want the same thing. They know that we can win with the personnel that we have and we’ve shown that we can. We’ve just got to do a few things better. …

    Sorry Coach, it is a tough sell. Thing is…you shouldn’t have to sell to your team who the starting QB is.

  6. You’re right Adam. Ponder’s play over the last 5 games has been a major issue for this team. As much as the interceptions certainly hurt today, it was just as disheartening to see him miss the wide open throws to Peterson and Gerhart, which absolutely must be completed by an NFL quarterback. I think that there has to be some consideration given to bringing in Webb in situations like we’ve had the last two weeks. I felt all week that this was a winnable game, and I think we all saw that it was. But you just cannot have QB play like this. Very disappointing.

  7. unless ponder is injured or the GM changes his mind, ponder will start the last four games. spielman has said it’s a 3-yr. plan, and frazier will soldier along. same again next season, too. the change might be a new OC for ’13

    ponder will have to improve this year or start out next year strong and be consistently decent through the season, and if not, then they’ll try back-ups as starters. what’s the QB draft class for ’14 looking like?

    crap. we’re right back where we were before favre, and TJ
    and before that, i thought culpepper and moss had us set for a while
    this sux

    1. I am still hoping Leslie can be fired this year. If we lose the rest of the games like we have been there is a chance!

  8. My biggest issue with his two picks: 2nd and 6 and 1st and 10. That’s the down and distance he decided to chuck the ball to Morgan Burnett on. We weren’t talking about a 4th down play in a game your down by 7 in. He had absolutely no business throwing either of those passes and it’s actually pissing me off more now than it did when I was watching it. He set the tone early ignoring a wide open Jarious Wright on the first 3rd down of the game. He blew an opportunity to hit Peterson in stride for an easy six. This guy better put everything he has into this week of preparation because the way his teamates and coaches are standing by him right now is shocking considering the magnitude of his mistakes today. There’s a whole lot of class in that locker room and the best way he can show them some appreciation is to break out of this funk against the Bears.

  9. Troy Williamson, drafted 7th overall, same spot as Adrian Peterson. Hard not to laugh a little at the thought. Anybody else remember when they sent Troy to that Nike camp dealie to try and fix his inability to catch?

    I imagine every Viking fan out there, myself included, hoped it would work. It so very, very much did not. He came back the same ol’ Troy, passes flying untouched through outstretched hands and doinking off his helmet. Funny now, painful then. Trying to find a player with the best odds of becoming a major contributor to your team is a huge part of the draft process. Another huge part is realizing, and admitting, that the guy you chose is a bust. Hugely painful and a major hit to the ego especially when it’s such an early pick.

    In the year of the Big Reach, they opted to chose need over BPA. Fine. But did it work? So far, an emphatic no. I’m NOT SAYING Ponder is a definitive bust, but isn’t the evidence quickly mounting?

    All I’m saying is, if he is indeed the bust he’s beginning to appear as: Spielman, what’s plan B?

    1. Well luckily Tomb, we drafted Williamson 7th, and later Peterson 7th. A bust followed by a stud. We are on pace to finish 6-10 and that would mean we are picking somewhere around 12th. Ponder drafted 12th is a bust, he may be followed by __________… a bust followed by a stud?

  10. I agree with everything for the most part except for the “goal of winning a championship”. Winning a championship this year was and is not a realistic goal. Spider is not an option either. He was terrible in preseason and did not deserve to be on the field. I would look back on some of the comments that were posted after he played this preseason. At this point losses are good as the team clearly has a lot of issues to be taken care of. Higher in the drafting order is not a bad thing at this point. Keep on hoping the Lions lose also. Remember they traded the Vikes a 5th round round pick this year and the Vikes get their 4th rounder next year. I always maintained that this was a 6-7 win team this year and 8 wins would exceed expectations. Rome was not built in a day.

    1. Hey Norse, how the heck are ya? Havent seen you around for quite a while.
      We should all be used to this stuff, we get our hopes up only to see them come crashing down.

    2. Good to see you back Norse!

      “Winning a championship this year was and is not a realistic goal.”

      Adrian, Antoine, and Percy never got that memo for some reason.

      1. It takes more than those players superhuman effort to win. It takes a team with quality depth and good coaches to pull it off. Who is the best receiver behind Harvin? Their receiving corps is one of the worst in the league. They don’t have a good backup at QB behind Ponder. Little depth at LB and CB. The Carlson signing has been a disaster. They need at least 2 more very good drafts and some quality free agency signings to get there. Then there is the OC play calling which has shown no imagination at all. They are getting better however they still have a lot more to do before you can put them up there as a contender. Every team team has the montra of “winning the championship” at the beginning of the year. The [players are paid to play and some do it just better than others.

  11. Web was so bad in the preseason, Horrible! I don’t think he deserves the right to play, Unless the change of pace thing will work. I’d rather see MTB, than Webb.

    1. How is preseason failure (Webb) any worse than regular season (Ponder) failure? Why is that people, not just you there are plenty of others, that feel Webb doesn’t also deserve a chance to play football?

      We have yet to see a Joe Webb play quarterback after a full offseason and preseason to prepare to actually play the position. I haven’t exactly been kind to Webb in the past, mainly because of his footwork, but I never once saw Webb play with as poor of footwork as Ponder has played these last few.

      “Webb SUCKS” is a cop out…