COMMENTARY | The roller coaster that has been Christian Ponder's 2013 season with the Minnesota Vikings is about to make another loop. With Josh Freeman suffering from concussion-like symptoms, Ponder will get the start on Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers.
Not only will Ponder's future with the Vikings likely be decided by how he performs with a new lease on the quarterback job, the futures of head coach Leslie Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman could all be impacted by what Ponder does on the field.
It was Spielman who decided to draft Ponder at No. 12 in the 2011 draft and was one of his more ardent supporters during his first two seasons. Still, Spielman decided to sign Matt Cassel in the offseason in case Ponder's progress came to a standstill, which it appeared to through the team's first three games. Ponder threw just two touchdowns and five interceptions to go along with two fumbles as the team started 0-3 before Cassel took over for the team's only victory.
Frazier's future is a bit more uncertain, as the team has turned in some dismal performances this season and even a strong finish may not be enough to save his job. But if the team continues to flounder as it has the past two weeks, Frazier may not even make it to the end of the season.
The situation couldn't be any better for Ponder, as the former whipping boy for the team is actually a welcome relief to many fans after watching Cassel and Freeman play so poorly in back-to-back losses to Carolina and the New York Giants.
For his part, Ponder took his benching like a professional and didn't go spouting off to the media or point fingers at his teammates - most notably the defense - for what happened, but shouldered the blame himself. He obviously wasn't happy with the situation, but no team would want a player who didn't believe he should be playing.
This may be Ponder's last opportunity to earn the starting job with the Vikings. If he plays well, it's likely he'll start the following week against Dallas. If he performs badly, the Vikings are likely to go back to Freeman, who will have had several more weeks to learn the playbook.
For all practical purposes, Ponder will hold his own fate in his hands on Sunday night. But Spielman and Frazier have a lot riding on the outcome as well.
Allen Moody is an author and sports bettor living in Nevada. A newspaper sports reporter for 12 years, he has been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings since the 1970s.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Christian Ponder
- Minnesota Vikings
- Josh Freeman
- Rick Spielman
- Leslie Frazier
- Matt Cassel