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Vikings QB coach sees major progress from Christian Ponder

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder sits on the field after he is hit by Chicago Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije during the first half of their NFL football game in Minneapolis Reuters

As a rookie, Christian Ponder became the Vikings’ starting quarterback less because he was ready than because Donovan McNabb was lousy, and when Ponder was put on the field he struggled through growing pains. But Vikings quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson says this offseason, Ponder has experienced more growth than pain.

“I think there’s no question, he’s come light years,” Johnson said of Ponder in an interview with 1500 ESPN. “Obviously getting a chance to work out a lot of the kinks, a lot of the problems that you find out as a young player, that’s when you get a chance to work on them is usually in the first offseason afterwards. Having been through this with a couple of other quarterbacks, I kind of know how it goes. They go back [and say], ‘I can’t believe I did this,’ or, ‘Oh my God, this is so clear now.’ You kind of have to put them through the paces for them to understand what’s good and bad about each play. I think he’s really done a good job with that. . . . He’s making the mistakes like other guys do, but as he’s going through them he learns how to work through them and he’s making many fewer mistakes because the game is starting to slow down. That’s what you look for.”

Johnson said it was gratifying during the Vikings’ minicamp to see Ponder take things he had been taught in the film room and apply them on the practice field.

“There’s no question there were three or four sequences [in minicamp when] I saw him, he came back and threw the ball, exactly what we talked about, and it was right there. Right where we wanted the ball to be,” Johnson said.

With a 54.3 percent completion rate last season, the ball wasn’t right where the Vikings wanted it to be often enough when Ponder passed last season. But the Vikings sound confident that Ponder will be the quarterback they need him to be this year.

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35 Responses to “Vikings QB coach sees major progress from Christian Ponder”
  1. textexington says: Jul 3, 2012 6:45 AM

    Rodgers > Pounder.LOLZ.

  2. kwgator says: Jul 3, 2012 6:53 AM

    Vikings quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson? Who?

  3. sportfan23 says: Jul 3, 2012 6:56 AM

    We want Joe Webb!

  4. EJ says: Jul 3, 2012 6:59 AM

    A couple more seasons under Ponder’s belt, and he’ll be pretty good. He just needs to go through some more obstacles like last year.

  5. packerfaninsandiego says: Jul 3, 2012 7:02 AM

    OMG!! I’m so scared that Ponder will be the qb that gets the Vikings to 4 wins instead of 3….It’s gotta suck to be a Vikings fan these past 5 years

  6. bigwalt2990 says: Jul 3, 2012 7:17 AM

    They hope he is. Their coaching careers with the Vikings depend on it.

  7. 69jaredallen69 says: Jul 3, 2012 7:26 AM

    He can progress all he wants in the classroom but his noodle for an arm is going to be a major issue

  8. vikingsnorth says: Jul 3, 2012 7:29 AM

    I hope Craig Johnson knows what he’s talking about. Gonna need a good year from Ponder this season. Actually scratch that, to compete in the NFC North, the Vikes need a GREAT year.

  9. mattsffrd says: Jul 3, 2012 7:35 AM

    I like Ponder a lot and I hope he does well…just not at the expense of my team lol

  10. rooski443 says: Jul 3, 2012 7:35 AM

    He will have over 30 TD passes this year.

  11. jimmysee says: Jul 3, 2012 7:43 AM

    The bar is set pretty high for a QB in the NFC North — but Ponder’s supporting cast may not be good enough or deep enough to give him a chance to show off that ‘major progress.’

  12. tatatoothy says: Jul 3, 2012 7:55 AM

    Translation = we need Percy Harvin to believe in this kid!

  13. canetic says: Jul 3, 2012 8:06 AM

    If my job depended on Chris Ponder showing progress then I’d probably say he’s making major progress too

  14. cooklynn17 says: Jul 3, 2012 8:10 AM

    Yeah, well since your the quarterback coach you better see improvement. Because if you don’t, your new title is ex quarterback coach.

  15. jimthebuilder27 says: Jul 3, 2012 8:20 AM

    Even Ponder looked better than Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert! Bust!

  16. 2ruefan says: Jul 3, 2012 9:21 AM

    packerfaninsandiego says: Jul 3, 2012 7:02 AM

    OMG!! I’m so scared that Ponder will be the qb that gets the Vikings to 4 wins instead of 3….It’s gotta suck to be a Vikings fan these past 5 years

    ************************************************
    HUH??!!
    It was just 3 years ago the Vikes were like 1 play away from the Superbowl. One of the most enjoyable for me out of the 45 years I’ve been following them.

    The other FOUR of the last 5? Yeah.. not so much.

  17. titogetmesometissue says: Jul 3, 2012 9:38 AM

    Ponder is little more than a backup QB. The sooner the Vikes figure that out, the sooner they can move on.

  18. brobokil says: Jul 3, 2012 9:39 AM

    You’re all gonna look and feel pretty stupid when ponder turns out to be a great quarterback.

  19. gtodriver says: Jul 3, 2012 9:50 AM

    textexington says:

    “Rodgers > Pounder.LOLZ.”

    FWIW:

    Rodgers didn’t throw a TD pass until his 3rd season.

    Ponder had 13 TD passes in his rookie year.

    Rodgers first full year as a starter he took over a 13 – 3 team and immediately took them to a 6 – 10 finish. That’s the worst single season reversal in Packers history.

    Ponder is taking over a 3 – 13 team in his first full year as the starter (2 years ahead of Rodgers) and will NOT lead his team backwards.

  20. sb44champs says: Jul 3, 2012 9:55 AM

    Since we both share the same last name, Ponder will probably be the best player on the Vikes in no time… surpassing Percy Harvin in a couple of years… because thats the only player on the Vikings that would be worthy of topping!!!!!

  21. spawnsacs says: Jul 3, 2012 10:14 AM

    FWIW:

    Rodgers didn’t throw a TD pass until his 3rd season.

    Ponder had 13 TD passes in his rookie year.

    Rodgers first full year as a starter he took over a 13 – 3 team and immediately took them to a 6 – 10 finish. That’s the worst single season reversal in Packers history.

    Ponder is taking over a 3 – 13 team in his first full year as the starter (2 years ahead of Rodgers) and will NOT lead his team backwards.
    ……………………………………….
    Yup, that collapse was all Rodgers fault. He threw a pick every other pass.

    However, in year two, Rodgers took his team to the playoffs, and in year three, he won the Superbowl with the greatest 4 game playoff stretche in NFL history. Oh, and last year he won the MVP.

    Ponder will be lucky to finish this season as the starter.

  22. tennesseeoilers says: Jul 3, 2012 10:19 AM

    The 2011 QB class is one of the most intriguing in recent memory. So far we know two QBs have what it takes: Cam Newton and Andy Dalton. Ponder and Jake Locker have shown flashes of brilliance but it’s far too soon to know about them. The one apparent lock to fail? Blaine Gabbert. If he goes on to have a successful NFL career, it’ll be the first time I’ve ever seen proof you could teach a fearful QB to be tough in the pocket.

  23. purpleguy says: Jul 3, 2012 10:30 AM

    No off-season OTA’s, shortened training camp, thrust into the starting role when McPuke tanked — it was hard to expect much out of Ponder. No sense in guaging progress upon practice performance though. If he doesn’t suck in his second league year I’ll be satisfied.

  24. ajschn06 says: Jul 3, 2012 10:52 AM

    69jaredallen69 says:
    Jul 3, 2012 7:26 AM
    He can progress all he wants in the classroom but his noodle for an arm is going to be a major issue

    ————————————————-

    Noodle arm huh? Someone is clearly not watching him play. He may not have a cannon but his arm is certainly competent enough to make every NFL throw…

  25. ajschn06 says: Jul 3, 2012 10:54 AM

    titogetmesometissue says:
    Jul 3, 2012 9:38 AM
    Ponder is little more than a backup QB. The sooner the Vikes figure that out, the sooner they can move on.

    ————————————————–

    Based on what, your expert scouting experience? I’m not anointing this guy as a franchise QB, but noone can be judged (especially a QB) on a rookie season where there was no offseason programs and he was running for his life behind a terrible O-Line. An O-line that is much improved this year…

  26. fwippel says: Jul 3, 2012 11:24 AM

    I like Ponder, and I hope he works out well, but I will say this: Joe Webb outperformed Ponder when he got a chance to play last year.

    I know Ponder has been named the starter. However, the decision about who the best QB is the lead the Vikings should be made based on performance, not based on the fact that Ponder was a high draft pick (and a huge reach) and the coaches and front office don’t want to look bad, so they have to start him.

    If Webb outperforms Ponder in training camp and pre-season, then Webb should be named the starter Week 1. If the coaches and the front office aren’t willing to do that, then they aren’t putting the best interests of the team first.

  27. vikingsfanintexas says: Jul 3, 2012 11:38 AM

    Ponder will be fine with an improved OL. The weapons are good enough to win. Will it happen? Depends on the OL coming together and the defense keeping games close as Ponder gains confidence.

    For those Peckers fans who throw their would be barbs or cutting wit… Keep trying. The Vikings have two division championships in the last four years… That’s one more than Chicago or the
    Peckers and two more than Detroit.

    And in the nfl things change fast… One injury to Rogers and the Peckers are a last place team.

  28. mediasloppy says: Jul 3, 2012 11:48 AM

    Packer fans are always praising Rogers as the greatest of all time. They forget the WR’s are among the best in the NFL and part of 80% of their game plan. There is no better example about the Packers offensive unit, than Matt Flynn starting one game and breaking records during it.

    Rogers > Ponder is a true enough fact. I just think Packer fans who have to pillage every thread about how great Rogers is, are not a true representative of his actual playing. That is why I think Brees or other QB’s who work with far lesser talented players deserve more kudo’s…

  29. purplehayseuss says: Jul 3, 2012 12:04 PM

    Christian Ponder is an NFL quarterback. None of the idiot ‘experts’ here who ‘know football’ are NFL quarterbacks. Or coaches.

    They’re just fans, like you and me. Stick to your Vikes, Minny fans!

    GB will go as far as Rogers takes them. GB has no backup QB. If their O line falters, their season stops being positive instantly. Rogers overcame their awful defense and used his weapons.

    Ponder has a few weapons, by the way, and his O line isn’t horrible any longer.

    Comparing Ponder to Rogers is like comparing Tesla to Corvette. Both high performance cars, you’ve just never heard of Tesla. Tesla is ‘unproven’, but those that have driven one don’t want to get out from behind the wheel. Tesla has undergone major development and progress. Corvette has been an icon and has millions of unquestioning supporters.

    Fasten your seat belts, folks. It’s going to be a great season!
    My own fan’s bias has just one thing to add here:
    Ponder, in his very first game as a starting NFL QB, going up against the reigning NFL champions, and scared the living tar out of the Green Bay Packers. That game was much closer than the GB meatheads will acknowledge, and it was all Ponder.

  30. thankheavenfornumberseven says: Jul 3, 2012 12:22 PM

    One underrated aspect of Ponder’s game is that he can achieve 50 degrees of lateral separation in just two steps.

  31. smittee22 says: Jul 3, 2012 1:28 PM

    fwippel says: Jul 3, 2012 11:24 AM

    I like Ponder, and I hope he works out well, but I will say this: Joe Webb outperformed Ponder when he got a chance to play last year.
    —————————————————–

    Joe Webb might have looked like he outplayed Ponder, but he always came into the game as a backup that the defense has spent no time preparing for. The last game of the year against Chicago he didn’t look good at all. Granted he avoided sacks but his numbers were not good at all.

  32. fwippel says: Jul 3, 2012 2:16 PM

    smittee22 says:
    Jul 3, 2012 1:28 PM

    Joe Webb might have looked like he outplayed Ponder, but he always came into the game as a backup that the defense has spent no time preparing for. The last game of the year against Chicago he didn’t look good at all. Granted he avoided sacks but his numbers were not good at all.

    ________________
    Webb’s outing against Chicago was the worst of his appearances. However, it was Ponder that threw the pick-six to the Bears in that game that cost the Vikings the game.

    Ponder did not play well down the stretch. He looked awful against Detroit, throwing two more pick-sixes in that game, not to mention the one he threw against Denver, a game the Vikings lost by three points. Webb rallied the Vikings against Detroit, and would have won if not for a missed facemask call on the game’s final play. Webb also rallied the Vikings against Washington, throwing two TD passes.

    While I understand your point about the defense not preparing for Webb, my point is that Ponder needs to step up his play. I hope that happens, but if it doesn’t I don’t want to see the team stick with a guy that keeps throwing TD passes to the other team, and costing his team the game.

  33. smittee22 says: Jul 3, 2012 2:30 PM

    fwippel says: Jul 3, 2012 2:16 PM

    smittee22 says:
    Jul 3, 2012 1:28 PM

    Joe Webb might have looked like he outplayed Ponder, but he always came into the game as a backup that the defense has spent no time preparing for. The last game of the year against Chicago he didn’t look good at all. Granted he avoided sacks but his numbers were not good at all.

    ________________
    Webb’s outing against Chicago was the worst of his appearances. However, it was Ponder that threw the pick-six to the Bears in that game that cost the Vikings the game.

    Ponder did not play well down the stretch. He looked awful against Detroit, throwing two more pick-sixes in that game, not to mention the one he threw against Denver, a game the Vikings lost by three points. Webb rallied the Vikings against Detroit, and would have won if not for a missed facemask call on the game’s final play. Webb also rallied the Vikings against Washington, throwing two TD passes.

    While I understand your point about the defense not preparing for Webb, my point is that Ponder needs to step up his play. I hope that happens, but if it doesn’t I don’t want to see the team stick with a guy that keeps throwing TD passes to the other team, and costing his team the game.
    —————————————————-
    I too watched all of the games, and I’m well aware that Ponder was not outstanding by any means. he made a number of terrible mistakes that I won’t even attribute to being a rookie. They were just bad, but I am tired of hearing everyone hollering for Webb to be the starter. They are both young qbs, neither of which looked that good in their performances. In my opinion they should go with Ponder until he loses the job. I like Joe Webb on the team, I just don’t know if he will ever become a #1 QB. I might be wrong, but I personally would rather see Ponder get the majority of the #1 reps this year.

  34. otis52gsh says: Jul 3, 2012 3:03 PM

    What is he supposed to say?, he got worse? He will never be anything more than average if he is lucky. Was a huge stretch for viks to take him where they did, and last year everyone saw it was a mistake. Career backup most likely.

  35. ybo1 says: Jul 6, 2012 4:46 PM

    Cracks me up that so many packer fans are here just dishing Ponder. You must be really shaking in your boots knowing that you are ONE player away from sucking big time. Remeber, Ponder did not start last year. A lot of those loses were not his fault. No I don’t think the Vikings will be that great, but they will be much better and they will continue getting better. It is unfair to judge a young QB in his first year. Give him a break and lets see what he can do. Also the Harvin thing has blown over so get over that. No matter what it should be a good season with a strong NFC north.

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