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.