Christian Ponder could do no wrong as the Vikings got off to a 4-1 start. But even though he proceeded to look exceedingly human, the Vikings still think he’s the right guy.
General manager Rick Spielman just finished a talk with Vikings beat writers, and made it clear where the organization stood on their second-year quarterback.
“I know everybody in this organization believes Christian Ponder is our guy,” Spielman said, via Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com. “And I have full, 100 percent belief that Christian Ponder’s going to be our quarterback heading into the future.”
Beating the Lions last week to go into a bye week 6-4 has quieted some of the criticism, but there’s been reasonable doubt about Ponder after a tough stretch of games that made the Vikings look like they could only do one thing well — run.
“Those are things that you look at when you’re developing a young quarterback, is OK, he had a hiccup for a couple weeks — how does he respond?” Spielman said. “Well, he came out of that and responded pretty well last week. I think he ended up with a 114 quarterback rating and was very productive and probably would have been more productive, but we had a few dropped balls here and there, too.
“So, those are the signs that you’re looking at, not only from his physical ability, but how he handles the pressure at that position from the mental standpoint, too.”
Speilman said he’s been encouraged by Ponder’s approach, even the way he joked about his sideline-reporter girlfriend, which became a topic during his slump.
“You have to have stuff roll off your back at that position, just like a head coach or general manager,” Spielman said. “You know there’s going to be — the praises come with that position, but the heavy criticisms come with that position, too. But you have to have the mental makeup to be able to handle all of that.”
Either way, Spielman said he was still well short of the time he needed to make a final determination on Ponder.
“I always have followed the three-year rule,” Spielman said. “The quarterback position — you’ve got to remember, our guy’s only in his second year. You look at the history of development of quarterbacks and I’ve talked to you guys a lot about that and where they come.
“I know they’re getting measured regardless if they’re a rookie or second-year [player]. They’re going to get evaluated from the outside and from the media on their performance that week. But you have to be, from an internal standpoint, looking at the whole picture and looking at a length of time.”
That’s good news for Ponder, especially if they use the time between his second and third year to add some weapons to the outside, which will allow him to look like more than a guy who hands off to Adrian Peterson.