Monday, December 03, 2012

Christian Ponder Running Out Of Time

A few things I will say are absolutely true with no arguments:
  • Adrian Peterson is the best player in the NFL. If the Vikings had two more wins, he'd be a serious candidate for MVP, and he probably should be anyway. Unfortunately, we have a somewhat warped idea of what an MVP is, and the MVP can't come off a 6-6 team that is probably on its way to 7-9 more than on its way to the playoffs.
  • Aaron Rodgers' numbers aren't as good as they were last season, but that's an unreasonable expectation, and it doesn't mean Rodgers isn't playing at an MVP level. Despite banged-up receivers and an offensive line that lacks depth and high-end talent, Rodgers leads the NFL in quarterback rating, is still near the top in completion percentage, and is every bit the reason this team is 6-1 in its last seven games.
  • Christian Ponder sucks.
  • He's also not getting much help as he tries to attain his goal of not being terrible.
What isn't as certain, but is something I believe pretty strongly, is that Ponder is running out of chances to prove he is the guy Minnesota thought it was getting.

He was dead-on awful Sunday, hitting just five passes for 36 yards before a couple of stat-padding series against a prevent defense. All five completions came on a touchdown drive for the Vikings that got them on the board in the first quarter. That was it.

After a 48-yard scamper by Peterson in the third quarter -- a run that followed Mason Crosby's out-of-bounds kickoff -- the Vikings were in scoring position. Ponder rolled out right on second down, and threw across his body for Kyle Rudolph in the back of the end zone. Safety Morgan Burnett made sure the ball never got there, intercepting it to give Green Bay life in a game it was about to go down 21-10 in.

From there, it was all Green Bay, with both Ponder picks eventually setting up Crosby field goals (actual made field goals!). James Starks added a touchdown run (!) in a 23-14 win.

At 6-6, the Vikings are pretty much screwed when it comes to the playoffs, thanks to a remaining schedule that includes the Bears and Packers at home, and Houston and St. Louis on the road.

Can Peterson run Minnesota into the playoffs? In other words, can he do enough to keep Ponder's dumb mistakes from killing the team?

The answer Sunday was a negative one. Peterson went off for 210 yards, but Ponder's inaccuracy and inefficiency sunk the team.

Packers defensive tackle Ryan Pickett summed it up pretty well.

"They should run him until he can't even breathe," defensive end Ryan Pickett said. "I don't understand why they wouldn't. I ain't seen nobody stop him. No one.

"If I had him, I probably would be tempted to not even pass."

... "An average running back today would have had 50, 60 yards," said Pickett. " 'AP' had 200. It wasn't like we were getting beat up. He would just make people miss."

He's right. Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave should be taking the air out of the ball completely. If it isn't a safe play-action pass to Rudolph, it probably shouldn't even be attempted at this rate. Just let Peterson get his 200-plus yards and hope it's enough.

Hell, the Vikings were so bad Sunday -- outside of Peterson -- that they got whipped in time of possession by a team that never makes a truly concerted effort to hold on to the ball. It's hard not to feel badly for Peterson, seemingly a good guy who just plays the game at a level higher than anyone else can reach. And he blew out his knee last December.

Fear not, Vikings fans. Ponder has the answer. He wants to hang out on the ranch.

 Ponder told that he has never spoken with Brett Favre, who had officially retired — for real this time — several months before the Minnesota Vikings used a 2011 first-round pick on the former Florida State standout. Ponder, though, said he has recently chatted with “people in the (Vikings) organization about maybe going and hanging out with him for a couple of days.”

“We’re going to bring that up and try to take advantage of that,” Ponder said Thursday.

Well, Ponder already knows how to make brain-dead throws into coverage. Maybe Favre can teach him the good stuff.

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