Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has heard it from the fans, the media ... and now his own coaches are even giving him a dose of some tough love.
After landing in London, where the 0-3 Vikings will take on the 0-3 Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium, quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson told USA Today's Tom Pelissero that with each loss the pressure will mount before it subsides for Ponder.
"I don't feel any different now than I did before," Johnson said. "The bottom line is — and he knows this — if you do not win the game, you're getting the blame. That's just the way it is. Suck it up. You're no different than quarterbacks in every other part of the country. When you lose, you're getting the blame. That's part of the deal."
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This comment can be interpreted in many ways. In context, it's a demanding coach likely saying that Ponder is no different from any quarterback in the NFL; they're as open to criticism as any position in any sport.
But it's hard not to think that Johnson expects far more from Ponder, who ranks 21st in the NFL in passing yards (230.2 per game), 22nd in completion percentage (59 percent) and 30th in passer rating (65.9).
Johnson said Ponder has been there and done that before, which made Sunday's loss to the Browns — where the Vikings had a chance to drive down the field and win at game's end — so frustrating.
"He's got to push through," Johnson said. "At the end of the day, we've had the opportunity in the end of the game to have a chance to close it out, and we've got to do that. He's done that (before). We've got to do it. Period."
Fans at the Metrodome booed Ponder and started chants for backup Matt Cassel. Kansas City Chiefs fans, enjoying their 3-0 renaissance, must get a good laugh out of that one. That's about as low as it gets.
Thankfully for Ponder, no matter how bad he might be this week, the London fans likely won't boo — they whistle over there — and most certainly will be busier doing the wave or oohing-and-ahhing at punts or something.
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