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A Log Jam In The NFC North

All of the NFC North teams are now tied for first place within the division.

The San Francisco 49ers decisive Saturday Night whooping of the Packers ended any hope (or fear) of a team from the North winning the Super Bowl.

While Vikings fans have to be elated to see their most hated enemy’s Super Bowl hopes dashed, it is somewhat painful to notice exactly how the 49ers took away a Victory.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was selected with the fourth pick of the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft.  This was nearly a full round later than where the Vikings decided to place the future of the quarterback position on the shoulders of Christian Ponder.

I’m not going to launch into a hate fest of Ponder, but it is hard to deny that Kaepernick is clearly the better quarterback right now and that he has progressed faster than Ponder.  He is just plain and simply getting it done both through the air and on the ground.

What hurts even more is that Kaepernick led an option style offense that posted a ridiculous 579 yards against Green Bay’s defense.  The Vikings employed a similar scheme in the Wild Card round’s opening drive, with Joe Webb making the surprise start, but inexplicably abandoned the option after finding success on that drive.

Why Bill Musgrave and Leslie Frazier “adjusted” their offensive scheme after that first drive will be a question that, for most fans, will never be adequately answered.

Soon, why the Vikings opted for Ponder over Kaepernick in the 2011 NFL Draft may be a question that Rick Spielman finds equally difficult to answer.

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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. The thing that has always bothered me about selecting Ponder where they did was the McNabb trade after it. The only reason they should have selected Ponder that high was if they were planning to play him the first week. He was supposed to be the most NFL ready passer, he sure as hell didn’t have the highest ceiling. I thought Kaepernick was the best QB prospect in the draft but it was bound to take a year or so before he’ld be ready to play. If they wanted the veteran QB anyway, I don’t see why they didn’t grab the guy with the most potential. It comes down to fit though too, and if last weeks game showed us anything it’s that Musgraves offense isn’t going to make the most of the super athlete QB’s the league is shifting too. Time will tell if the plan they have will work to get this team to the Super Bowl, but I worry they are behind the times. What really impresses me about the 49ers is how they are mixing the old school defense and power run game with the newer spread concepts. That is going to be a tough team to beat for a long time…but hey, we beat them this year so maybe we are on the right track.

  2. Let me get this straight….Colin Kaepernick almost single single handedly WHOOPS the Packers on National TV and somehow that turns into a discussion about why the Vikings picked Ponder over him in the 2011 draft? I love how everyone always becomes an expert AFTER the fact.. but were you there when the decision was made to draft Ponder? NO, you weren’t were you.. so instead of making a remark on something you know nothing about, why not just be glad that Colin Kaepernick is playing so well and let us die hard VIKINGS fans rejoice in the fact that he embarrassed the Pack on national TV.. What really irks me is that Packer fans talk smack about the Vikings and go on and on about their MVP QB and how many Super Bowls they have won and ya da, ya da, ya da…. but when he gets his butt beat in front of a national TV audience, then suddenly we are not supposed to say anything about that.. ARE YOU SERIOUS? Aside from the Vikings winning, seeing the Packers get their butts handed to them is one of favorite things.. and when it happens, I am sure going to rub it in their face.. just like they have been doing to us for years.. but, getting back to your original issue….no one could have predicted that Colin Kaepernick would progress this quickly, so to take a shot at Rick Spielman’s draft time decision is simply unfair to do.. have you ever thought that Colin worked really hard after he was drafted and that is why he is so good now? He reminds me of another QB that was taken very late in the draft and has proven to be one of the greatest.. Tom Brady.. I know it may be too soon to compare Kaepernick to Brady, but if he is able to continues to play on the level like he did on Saturday night, I am sure that he could be headed for greatness as well. So, let’s stop second guessing the VIKINGS decision to draft Ponder and just be happy for Colin Kaepernick at this point in time.. this young man embarrassed the Packers and made Aaron Rodgers look like the rookie on Saturday night.. and for that reason, he has my utmost respect and gratitude.. SKOL VIKINGS!!!!

    1. agree 100 %.
      There is no knowing that Kaepernick would have been this good.
      But they sure do have a lot of weapons, and EXCELLENT .. simply brilliant playcalling. The option, the great running game, heavy playaction. One of, if not the, best O-line in the entire NFL.
      The have spended heavy in the draft with 3 first rounders 1 at gaurd, 2 tackles. Simply a very very good offense. Michael Crabtree is also comming into his own.

    2. Hey MackMack… thanks for the comment, I hope you continue to do so. The guys around will probably agree that they could use some help keeping this hack blogger in check.

      Now… lets discuss…

      First, I don’t think that every single opinion ever about an event can be dismissed as hind sight. While plenty of hind sight goes on in sports, it is hardly hind sight when the person sharing their opinions has felt that way since the very beginning.

      “Unlike many Vikings fans, I fully expected the Vikings to target Christian Ponder in the first round of the 2011 Draft. However, just like every other Vikings fans, I did not think they would do so at the #12 spot and expected them to trade back, causing me to roll my eyes and take a deep breath when the selection was announced.” -Me, May 1st, 2011.

      In fact, if memory serves me right, most Vikings fans considered Ponder a huge a reach and many still do. Doesn’t mean we are right (yet) or that he can’t turn it around… it just isn’t hindsight when you have the same opinion 2 years ago.

      Plus, fans pay good money for the right to second guess ad armchair their favorite NFL team. Meanwhile, front offices have a large payroll dedicated to separating the cream from the crop.

      It is early in both of their careers, Kaep and Ponder, and if you read closely I stopped short of saying Spielman should be questioned… I simply said that too many more games like this last one out of Kaep and those questions will for sure be coming.

      1. i remember when they announced ponder’s pick, i said that’s a reach, and even if he turns out to be great, they probably could’ve gotten him later. all decisions are made in the moment, with the info ya have at that time, so people do the best they can, but they might’ve panicked on this one. we still don’t know how this will turn out, ponder could be better than kap in the future

    3. I have to defend my position here. All I did was point out that it frustrated me that they would take a QB whose best attribute appeared to be that he was NFL ready and then trade away picks for a washed up lazy turd in Donovan McNabb. Pretty sure it frustrated the owner of the team too since the guy that appeared to orchestrate that trade lost some roster decision power. I hated the move then and still hate it today. I personally wouldn’t have drafted Ponder at 12 overall because I didn’t feel his physical skills warranted that high of a selection. I wouldn’t have taken Kaepernick there either though, he went right where he should have in the 2nd round based on his 1st round physical skills combined with the big question mark about his ability to perform in the NFL after being in a “gimmicky” pistol offense in college. Also, don’t ignore that I pointed out a decision between those two passers likely came down to fit. Ponder did make more sense for the Vikings based on the offense they were trying to install, so I understand why they decided he was the right QB, I just don’t get why they picked him where they did and then brought in McNabb. I’m not ripping on the current regime, I’m just pointing out that it’s frustrating as a fan to watch teams that underwent regime changes around the same time (San Fran being the prime example) have better results. This doesn’t change the fact that we are still coming off a wildly successful season that seemed so improbable a few months ago. A 10-6 record also doesn’t mean we fans can’t point out things that may have put the franchise on a different path. If you think Spielman, Frazier and the rest of the Vikings brass don’t do the same thing you’re crazy. Looking at where you have erred in the past is key to getting things right in the future, so it’s not really a bad thing to bring this stuff up.

      1. When we picked up McNabb, I was actually thinking the guy would come in with a chip on his shoulder and play lights out football. Instead, he came in fat and lazy. I thought at the time, he’d be good for Ponder. After about 6 games, I couldn’t wait to see him go.
        You make some good points Dan and I always look forward to your posts.

  3. Very enjoyable game, Didn’t McCarthy Say playing against Webb would help them???
    I guess that backfired 🙂

  4. I will admit that I too would have drafted Ponder over Kaepernick… Why? Because we already had Joe Webb.

    I wish I knew why the Vikings didn’t stay with the run option that was working????

    1. The million dollar question Carl. Who knows why they went away from Webb’s strength, after 1 series, to his weakness, the rest of the game. SF showed us all yesterday the error of our ways.
      Still waiting to see if Musgrave is going to be our OC next year but I keep hearing things like “continuity”, so chances are good he’ll be here next year.

      1. kap said in his post-game presser that they saw that the read option could work from seeing us do it against gb. musgrave, to be kind, is subpar, but may be learning and getting better. he just plain blew it a week ago. i’m very disappointed in him after seeing sf beat gb the way they did

  5. i see that the phacker fans are out there whining away
    worst fans in all of sports, win or lose
    that’s what ya get when ya trap a pro team in a hick hillbilly town

    saying pack fans are classy is like saying jeffrey dahmer is a gourmet chef

      1. ring, ring, “911, what’s your emergency?”

        “baa, baaaaa, baaaaaa, baaaaaaaaaaaaaa”

        “ok, we’ve gotten a lot of calls like this today and we’re very busy, but we’ve ID’d your number and we’ll put you in the que.”


  6. Calm down guys, don’t crown Kapernick yet. He abused a below average defense and had a good game. He hasn’t proven he can do it on a consistent basis yet. Everyone is on his bandwagon right now because he beat Rodgers in his first playoff game.

    1. I’ve actually been on Kap’s bandwagon since he inexplicably took over from Alex Smith. He’s been pretty much lights out for the last half of the regular season and the playoffs, so far. I like the guy. Seems solid, better arm by a long shot than Ponder. In hind sight, wished we would have taken him.

  7. It’s pretty obvious to me that Kaep has alot stronger and more accurate arm than Ponder. He’s also a better runner. It shouldn’t have taken much scouting to figure that out. I was totally against the Ponder reach and said so on the live-chat, not as vocal about it as LeCount was tho. Hey Adam is that Live-chat in the archives somewhere? Would be pretty cool to read through that one.

    1. Kap isn’t more accurate than Ponder, I have been very anti-Ponder but I would still prefer Ponder, Kap is a polished Joe Webb. Everyone is on Kap’s jock because he beat the packers, had he lost the talk would have been “alex smith should have started”.

      1. Umm, yeah, but he didn’t lose. The guy absolutely took over a football game, something I have been saying all along that we needed to see at least once from Ponder. And this was kind of a big game, ya know.

        Oh, and that was after his coach opted to bench a very good starter in Alex Smith and give him the keys to the offense… Mid-season… After Smith played very well.

      2. From all I’ve seen Skol, he’s WAY more accurate than Ponder. Granted, I haven’t as many of his games as Ponder but I have yet to see him throw a 3 yard out AT THE FEET OF HIS RECEIVER. Nor have I seen near as many under and over-thrown passes as Ponder.
        One thing is for certain; His long ball is WAY better and his running ability is no comparison

        1. Again, let the guy play more than 3 games before you all go crowning him the next great thing. He is very streaky

          1. I don’t think anyone is crowning him anything, other than he appears better than Ponder at this point in their careers.

            1. i’d describe his throwing last night as very deliberate and careful, maybe a result of his early int. it worked, he was accurate, but who knows how he’ll be, he’s so new

              hoping ponder is just a ‘later’ bloomer

          1. It’s OK, Fran. Just some stuff you don’t kid about, you know? I mean, calling a guy a Packer fan when he isn’t, that’s tough, real tough… 🙂

    1. Yes, that is a good stat. 60% of their o-line are dominant first rounders.

      Kind of like how 100% of the Vikings starting quarterbacks are first round picks.

        1. Why? You’ve preached all year that it “isn’t where a player was drafted, it’s how they play” in defending Ponder.

          Now it is uncalled for to point out that you are smitten with how the Niners have used their first rounders?

        2. I just don’t get how we are back to using the O-line as a defense of Ponder?

          Last year? Sure.

          This year? No way, they played far, far better.

          It’s either. Ponder, the receivers, or both. Can’t keep throwing a very good O-line under the bus for no good reason.

          1. Didn’t intend to drag the Ponder issue into the point I made, Adam. You did.

            Simple Question: Better o-line? Vikes or 49ers?

            1. I would say the are pretty close. Vikes run block better, but Niners block for a mobile QB better than ours.

    1. I still don’t get it, and I’m being honest, you really think Ponders final game was “dominant?” You think what Ponder did to them is right up there with what Kaep did last night?

            1. I could tell by the way you typed that “Yes”, it was very hard to say, huh? 🙂

              1. Nah, Fran, just tired of arguing, and wanted to give poor Adam a break. Like he said, I confuse him. Poor guy, just trying to oversee a friendly little blog for the Vikes here.

  8. the word on the street is that Erin Rogers won the nightly *hot dog* eating contest at Moby Dicks last night Moby Dicks is a well known bar in the Castro district of San Francisco (Erin’s home town)

    Second place went to the guy wearing a super tight white t-shirt, non other than Joe Buck

    Congratulations to Erin and Joe! May you live happily ever after…….

  9. My highlight last night was when Raji jumped on 4th and 1. Did you actually think they were going to run that play? You forgot to wave your finger, champ.

  10. ironic that last night packer fans were complaining about all of the non-calls by the refs
    Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley push off dang near every play
    Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson never get called for defensive holding
    I was secretly wishing the packers would meet the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game only to have Golden Tate catch a game winning touchdown pass by pushing off ……… again

      1. That is Ole=Secret Packer fan. Just lost a little respect for Mr. Purple thong wearer.

        1. Don’t worry guys, I only wanted to see the hated packers die a more gruesome death
          I think they got off too easy from the beat down the 49er’s put on ’em
          Golden Tate catching a game winning TD pass (while not gettin’ called for a push off) would have resulted in wide spread self immolation in the state of wisconsin (geez I hate typin’ that name)
          Fun Times!

          1. i’d like to see them lose every game they play. badly. don’t even want a pyrrhic victory. just pizz on their face humiliation

            1. C’mon, Cal. Ole’s backpeddaling there! Let him have it! Call the blog consistently, man!

              1. idk how to explain what’s goin on around here with you guys. ole musta got ahold of some bad packer poi poi

              2. Bud,
                I know You and Ole made sense lately, logic was good, Losing a NFC Championship would be Gut Wrenching! I’m withyou guys other than my Dislike of seeing them get there?
                I’m i making any sense or having a senior moment…

  11. We did help eliminate GB. Cause of Vikes week 17 victory Pack had to go on the road…Leading to their demise. Helps ease the pain a bit.

    1. C.C.
      Not lookin good… Hawks gave in a run in the 4th today so ya never know…

  12. Kaepernick has been much better than I expected, Ponder not so much.
    But I have to give Jim Harbaugh and his system the credit… He has turned Andrew Luck, Alex Smith and Kaepernick into franchise QB’s.

    You guys can debate who has the better OL or the better QB all you want, but I think the real difference is the system.

    Yes Kaepernick has a strong arm and is accurate… But what separated the way Kaepernick played verses the way Webb played was preparation. It is very obvious that Colin has been taught how to read a defense and Joe and Christian not so much.

    Disappointing! I wish we could trade Musgrave for a real offensive coach like Mike Mularkey… He is available and we need an upgrade. Coaches are always looking to upgrade players, so I think it should be ok for fans to want to upgrade coaches.

    C’mon Frazier, make the switch!

  13. I found the live-chat of the 2011 draft in the archives at Vikings Gab. Pretty darn entertaining to say the least. The consensus was overwhelming that at the very least Ponder was a reach, how much of a reach was all over the place. Worth a trip over to VG archives and check it out or maybe somebody could link it here.

    1. just google: “vikings gab nfl draft live 2011” then it will be one of the first thing comming up.. a very very fun read..
      nearly a completely agreement by all that it was a huge reach 🙂

      1. malte, that worked, easy, thanks. lecount absolutely hated that pick, johnny wasn’t far behind, but freds liked it. hmm, maybe freds thought ponder would make a good chief petty officer

        hopefully, we should know a lot more a year from now if he’ll be any good or if he’ll be bad, unless ponder is another tjack. then we’ll need a new name for him, something like ‘pondurgatory’

  14. At least 4 former Vikings I can think of in games this past weekend. I don’t regret losing Cindy Rice, Randy Mess, or Brat McKinnie, but I will always be disappointed that we let Matt Birk get away. That was a Childress failure for sure. And of course Madieu Williams and Cedric Griffin last week – pretty much understandable exits from the Vikes. Any other notables I missed? (Is Tavarus still a back-up for Seattle?)

    BTW, did EJ Henderson land on any team this past season? Just curious.

    1. Last I knew Tjack got traded to Buffalo but don’t think he saw the field. EJ never landed on another team, I believe he still lives around the twin cities.

    2. i was sorry birk left, too, and childo didn’t even give him a ride to the airport, either. we’re lucky that sully turned out to be good. what a difference between childo, who had no people skillz, and frazier, who the guys like and respect

  15. hang in there, adam and brett. your site traffic might be down now, but this internet thing still might catch on

  16. Whoa…what the Hell? Fran was down there by me a couple weeks ago. Now he’s up past Tomb, and gaining on Charlie…dude…

    1. I also need to find a way to fight back into the top 10, 4 months in the military really hurt.. (not literally)

      1. Malte, just tell Adam you’re a big Ponder fan. You’ll get multiple posts in no time defending that to him.

    2. I’m #5! How’d that happen? I’m going for the Coach now, only need 206 posts and I’ll be #1!

  17. HAHA! You said Log Jam. Reminds me of Big Lebowski. Maybe we can sign a G named Karl Hungus lol