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Defenses have figured out Ponder

Christian Ponder AP

So what has happened to Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, who looked so good early in the season and so bad lately?

The thinking in league circles is that defenses have complied enough game film to crack the code on Ponder’s tendencies in the 2012 passing game.  “Now that they’ve figured him out,” the source said, “it’s over.”

But not necessarily.  If Ponder and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave do some self-scouting and adjust accordingly to what defenses are doing to stop what Ponder was doing so well earlier in the year, things can change.

Especially if they make a commitment to letting Adrian Peterson continue to show that he’s healthy and effective.

The numbers bear that out.  After generating passer ratings 105.5, 114.6, and 94.1 in the team’s first three games, Ponder has been in the 80s and worse ever since.  Also, his completion percentage has been dropping lately, bottoming out at 47.1 percent against the Cardinals and 54.3 percent against the Buccaneers.

One of the problems seems to be that Ponder doesn’t react well to pressure.  Until he can show that he can stand tall in the pocket and find the open man when extra defenders are crashing through the line, the pressure will continue.

The pressure will build on Musgrave to install plays and protections that will help Ponder succeed.  With the Vikings by all appearances committed to Ponder, if a change is going to be made, it’ll be Musgrave who goes.

With two games left before the bye (at Seattle, vs. Detroit), a lack of improvement could force the team to make multiple changes before a six game stretch that consists of Bears, Packers, Bears, Rams, Texans, Packers.

If they don’t, that 5-2 start could eventually become a sub-.500 finish.

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43 Responses to “Defenses have figured out Ponder”
  1. stellarperformance says: Oct 28, 2012 8:28 AM

    His little legs move so fast when he gets chased out of the pocket, but he doesn’t go anywhere. He looks like he is stomping grapes as quickly as possible. Third stringer somewhere next year.

  2. jhein23 says: Oct 28, 2012 8:39 AM

    Thats funny listening to Vikings fans on this site I was led to believe defenses had Aaron Rodgers figured out and it was all over for him now. I’ve only seen 2 Vikings games and they can have all the good drafts the next few years they want, if that guy is their QB they aren’t going far and aren’t winning postseason games in the coming years. The way he plays makes him appear smaller than he actually is – almost like Doug Flutie.

  3. mikeincmn says: Oct 28, 2012 8:46 AM

    He wont be starting next year. Musgrave is a dead man walking as well. I like Ponder as a person, seems to be a decent enough guy, but he’s Mark Sanchez in purple essentially. I dont agree with all the people calling for his benching just yet, Joe Webb isnt much better. Find out what Ponder can do over the course of a season and move on.

  4. dc1to1 says: Oct 28, 2012 8:56 AM

    @Stellarperformace

    Geewiz!!!
    This is his second year and he’s a quality mid grade QB. Let him grow and lets talk mid way through year three.

  5. thetokyosandblaster says: Oct 28, 2012 9:09 AM

    “If they don’t, that 5-2 start could eventually become a sub-.500 finish.”

    This is what I’ve been trying to say all year. Their schedule was nice early and brutal late.

    I think others have noticed, because I haven’t seen barroomzero and other honks at all lately.

    Ah, well… Normalcy should return to the NFC North now.

  6. KIR says: Oct 28, 2012 9:13 AM

    These clowns who say Newton is a bust are laughable. Who are these great QB’s that have accomplished more than him in their first two years? Unbelievable! Go look at the top QB’s drated the last 5 or 10 years and their first two years. lol

  7. phillybleedgreen says: Oct 28, 2012 9:16 AM

    I think anything around 7-9 should be considered a good year for the Vikes. Get some secondary help this offseason and maybe a bit of O-line help (Kalil has been a beast this year) and they’ll be even more competitive. Only other thing they need is another threat opposite Harvin. It showed on Thursday when he went down and they didn’t have anyone to replace him.

  8. thetokyosandblaster says: Oct 28, 2012 9:26 AM

    KIR says:
    Oct 28, 2012 9:13 AM
    These clowns who say Newton is a bust are laughable. Who are these great QB’s that have accomplished more than him in their first two years? Unbelievable! Go look at the top QB’s drated the last 5 or 10 years and their first two years. lol

    Big Ben, Joe Flacco, & Matt Ryan may have something to say about that.

  9. leafeaterx says: Oct 28, 2012 9:28 AM

    This is normal in any team sport with a young promising player. The question, as PFT writes, is whether Ponder adjusts to what defenses are doing to stop him. He could also use some more playmakers I think, not a Vikings follower though… Good luck.

  10. 69allday says: Oct 28, 2012 9:36 AM

    Hey thetokyofudgepacker-Why don’t you stick to your cheese.-I grow weary of your negativity on every Viking post. Thank you.

  11. whatjusthapped says: Oct 28, 2012 9:43 AM

    Hell, I have Ponder figured out too!

    Just cover all the receivers 10 yards down the field. Mr. Noodle Arm can’t throw it with much mustard 11 yards and beyond.

  12. gunpowderjones says: Oct 28, 2012 9:53 AM

    “film study has shown that he doesn’t like to be pressured”

    Tom Landry help these teams out with that?

  13. thepvyharvin says: Oct 28, 2012 10:04 AM

    Let this season play out. Then we can have a more time tested opinion of Ponder and his ability to play NFL football,,

  14. bangreggwilliams says: Oct 28, 2012 10:06 AM

    How many 2nd year QBs are perfect every game? Give me a break. Ponder has shown legit potential, as well as reasonable 2nd year struggles.

    So, I say be quiet haters, or I will pay some Saints to injure you.

    Thank you…goodnight!

  15. duanethomas says: Oct 28, 2012 10:08 AM

    He’s Jim Everett in the pocket.

  16. 2ndaryinsanity says: Oct 28, 2012 10:12 AM

    Newton has skills, and he had an amazing rookie year. Some bumps in the road are to be expected for most 2nd year QB’s. However, Newton’s response to adversity has to be a concern. At this point, the question is whether or not Newton has the mental make-up to be a great QB. Your QB has to be a team leader…and so far Newton isn’t “that guy.” He’s immature and not used to failure. If Cam learns and grows from this, then there’s a chance he’ll end up being a good QB. Another consideraton is that the Panther’s are not doing a good job with the play calling. Why on earth would they spend so much money to keep Stewart and Williams and not run the ball more??? They also need to bring in another receiver. Steve Smith can’t do it all by himself. They need more receivers who can make plays. What I don’t understand is people calling a player a bust before their second season is even over. It takes QB’s longer than that to adjust to playing in the NFL. If they haven’t made real progress after 3 seasons, then maybe they are a bust. Teams aren’t (and shouldn’t) give up on their 1st round picks so quickly

  17. dd393 says: Oct 28, 2012 10:25 AM

    It’s all about adjustments. If Bill Musgrave is creative enough to make those adjustments, then Ponder will play well again. Until the defenses make adjustments. Etc.

  18. guruvious says: Oct 28, 2012 10:28 AM

    If you’ve watched one Vikes game, you have Musgrave figured out. Ponder is just trying not to get killed when the predictable plays come in.

    Two great TE’s, Adrian, Percy and a QB who can control a game would be welcome on anyones team!

  19. nawlinssaints1956 says: Oct 28, 2012 10:29 AM

    Just two points-Ponder hasn’t shown he can throw downfield with any consistent accuracy, and even if he could he has no competent deep threat receivers…

  20. docsweeney says: Oct 28, 2012 10:36 AM

    There was a year that Rex Grossman through the first few weeks looked like an NFL MVP for the Bears. Then Denny Green blitzed the hell out of him and he was never the same. Sounds like the same recipes for Ponder.

  21. raiderspride says: Oct 28, 2012 10:42 AM

    One of the most promising future NFL QB’s is now playing for The B.C. Lions. The Vikings should be looking to Canada.

  22. 6thsense79 says: Oct 28, 2012 10:49 AM

    I guess Ponder can always take solace in knowing at least he’s not Gabbert.

  23. bdoubleoey says: Oct 28, 2012 10:52 AM

    Well if its up to Musgrave we are screwed. He is clueless. Have never been impressed with him. If you watch Ponder in the 2 minute drill he tends to do better. I think Musgrave has scared him so bad about making mistakes that he doesnt take chances. Bottom line, Mustgrave needs to go.

  24. larrydavidstern says: Oct 28, 2012 10:54 AM

    This guy was a huge reach at 12 when they drafted him there. He wasn’t that good in college, so what made them think he was gonna be good in the NFL?

  25. fuhq says: Oct 28, 2012 11:17 AM

    duanethomas says:
    Oct 28, 2012 10:08 AM
    He’s Jim Everett in the pocket.

    Are you sure you don’t mean Chrissy.

  26. vikesfansteve says: Oct 28, 2012 11:42 AM

    Webb isn’t accurate either. The play that needs to be used a little less is the bubble screen. Reminds me of Bevelle and TJAC with the roll right jump pass.

    Ugh.

    The Vikings need to activate Wright and trade for a receiver. Burton wastes a roster space only playing a couple plays a game.

    Musgrave needs to get up in the booth so he can see the field and not just his 20 yd area.

    He calls good run plays.

    The O line misses too many assignments.

    All this can be fixed in 10 days. My personal opinion is the Vikings are going to put the same beating on Seattle that the Bucs put on them.

    Then they are going to beat Detroit.

    They are also going to give the Texans and Packers a tough fight.

    Rams I don’t know because the Vikings play down to their competition.

  27. vikesfansteve says: Oct 28, 2012 11:44 AM

    They are going to split with the Bears and maybe even sweep them because of the bye week before the game in Chicago. Yes I am on the kool aid.

  28. filthymcnasty1 says: Oct 28, 2012 12:26 PM

    “The thinking in league circles is that defenses have complied enough game film to crack the code on Ponder’s tendencies in the 2012 passing game. “Now that they’ve figured him out,” the source said, “it’s over.”

    Yeah, I have to agree.

    And anyway it’s almost November, and that means it’s time for Viking fans to start working on their mock drafts.

  29. contraisloosebuthole says: Oct 28, 2012 12:37 PM

    KIR says: Oct 28, 2012 9:13 AM

    These clowns who say Newton is a bust are laughable. Who are these great QB’s that have accomplished more than him in their first two years? Unbelievable! Go look at the top QB’s drated the last 5 or 10 years and their first two years. lol
    ________________
    these clowns are people who want to win now! No excuses for reverting.

  30. pack13queens0 says: Oct 28, 2012 8:29 PM

    Just like I’ve said before, Ponder doesn’t have a brain. Look at A-Rod, there’s not a defense in the league that can figure him out.

  31. samanthasteeleruinedmyqb says: Oct 28, 2012 9:03 PM

    If teams gave up on quarterbacks who haven’t set the world on fire in their first 17 starts, we would never have heard of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, etc.

  32. brewdogg says: Oct 28, 2012 9:38 PM

    Hey Packer fans:

    Your golden boy just threw for 186 against the #24 pass D, one that averages giving up 265/game.

    You better hope Jennings and Nelson get healthy soon. Oh yeah, and since 4 of your top 5 WRs is 27 or older, hope that you can acquire some new ones soon, too.

    If you aren’t intelligent enough to catch the underlying point to this, don’t bother responding.

  33. thetokyosandblaster says: Oct 28, 2012 9:46 PM

    Yummy, yummy tears.

    Keep them coming!

  34. vikefan says: Oct 28, 2012 9:48 PM

    Just like I’ve said before, Ponder doesn’t have a brain. Look at A-Rod, there’s not a defense in the league that can figure him out.
    ———————————————————
    ….mmm cept frisco, giants, seahawks……..

  35. mnomalley says: Oct 28, 2012 11:49 PM

    Anyone catch musgrave when he’s calling a play? His playbook card is barley bigger than my phone..

  36. romeodread says: Oct 29, 2012 1:49 PM

    Funny how a guy can be labeled a bust so quickly. For those saying he doesnt have good arm strength, niether did Montana. Not comparing them, just saying you dont need a cannon to be an nfl qb. As far as brains, the guy has them. Hes a young qb. Give him more than a season before burning him guys. He has potentail. Yeah, he was a reach in the draft, but the vikings have had some pretty good drafts lately. There is probably a reason you guys arent getting paid to make decisions about nfl personnel.

  37. th56 says: Oct 29, 2012 5:20 PM

    What they figured out, is that the Vikings can’t handle the blitz!

  38. lordfrza says: Oct 30, 2012 12:35 PM

    Come on people, we were never in consideration for the playoffs. We are doing better than expected and have almost doubled our win total from last year. That’s great! This team is improving and that’s all we can ask for.

  39. pappavike says: Oct 30, 2012 4:16 PM

    This is Ponders First full season (last years lockout) No body gave up on Peyton Manning not in year one, or two. And as far as the schedule go’s I think the Vikes will be just fine! They always play better when they play good teams!! The Vikes big problem is not Ponder And no Webb is not!! I say again NOT the answer!! Vikes just have to stop playing down! to the teams thier playing!! Vikes fans take a breath!! Everybody thought the Vikes wouldn’t be competive this year! Oh! but wait they are!! There were no expectations = No presure And for those who want to bash on the Vikes go ahead!! But why would you waste your time on a team that You say is so bad!! Seems to me your the one who has the problem!!

  40. rickytheviking says: Oct 30, 2012 5:15 PM

    Last time I looked it takes a while for an NFL
    quarterback to develop
    So give Ponder a chance

    That said I am not impressed with Musgrave
    as OC or Frazier as HC

  41. pappavike says: Oct 30, 2012 11:03 PM

    I think Frazier is a good coach thats getting better game by game!! Musgrave needs to be less predictable and let Ponder throw down field more! Were 5-3 thats damn good for a team that nobody had any expectations for!! I really think we will give the remaining teams on our schedule a run for thier money!! the Vikes can play loose because there are no expectations of them getting to the playoffs! I for one already think they have done great and I don’t even care if the Vikes get to the playoffs and go one and done!! Because they weren’t so suppose to be there in the first place!! I’m proud of the Vikes and to be a Vikes FAN!!! (yes I’m a homer) GO VIKES ! ! ! !

  42. vikefan says: Nov 1, 2012 11:04 AM

    first & foremost im not a fan of musgrave but there is a bad cycle going on. i dont think mugrave trusts ponder (and rightly so in the last 4 games) and i dont think ponder has any faith in recievers (and possibly o-line) in a downfield passing attack. simpson has speed but is yet a work in progress. Jenkins has been an absolute waste and is barely a 3rd starter on any other squad. when ponder has time & confidence he has proven to be effective and a good game manager. I think it is currently the o-line not handling blitz packages & lack of wr talent (with one on one coverage which has been a problem for the vikings for over 5 years) that is the bigger problem that is just making ponder look bad.

  43. vikefan says: Nov 1, 2012 11:06 AM

    also keep in mind the vikings were 3-13 last year, already at 5-3 and could easily finish 8-8 or better which is a phenominal turn around for a team arguably in the toughest or second toughest division in the NFL (after nfc west), honestly not bad at all.

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