Ponder struggling but will not be benched by Vikings

Eric Edholm
Pro Football Weekly
Ponder struggling but will not be benched by Vikings

For the second season in a row, it appears QB Christian Ponder is regressing. After an auspicious debut and a fine performance at Carolina a year ago as a rookie, Ponder struggled down the stretch. A similar scene is playing out in his second season. After having a TD-INT ratio of 4-0 and completing 68.3 percent of his passes in his first four games, Ponder has dropped to 6-7 and 62.6.

Ponder also has taken 10 sacks in his last three games after having only nine in his first five. The Vikings’ passing game has leveled off despite the addition of WR Jerome Simpson, and they have lost two of three games after a 4-1 start.

His problems are myriad. The clock in his head has been slow at times; at others he has appeared to be trying too hard to be too fine with his throws, which, ironically, has led to him being inaccurate. The play-calling also has not been in sync, and speeding up Ponder's timing with quick throws has made the Vikings easier to defend.

Ponder’s uneven performances are troublesome, but head coach Leslie Frazier isn’t planning on benching him anytime soon.

"What I like is his resiliency, the fact he's been able to stand in there. He's taken a couple of shots,” Frazier said following the loss to the Buccaneers. “He's also delivered some big plays for us. And that is what's been impressive for me.

“I know he's going to have some ups and downs because of where he is at this stage of his career. But to see him bounce back the way I expect him to bounce back, that's what has been impressive.”

We hear that there also is no substantive talk of reviving the “Blazer” package featuring Joe Webb, which was a late-season hit a year ago. The theory is that the Vikings want to avoid a Tim Tebow-Mark Sanchez type of dilemma where they are pulling quarterbacks off the field in the middle of drives and stunting the growth of their first-round pick.