Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder did not look good through the first quarter and a half of action last weekend. He was out of sync with his receivers, and badly missed a couple throws, one that definitely should have been picked off.
However, something changed late in the second quarter. Ponder all of a sudden started connecting with his targets, and before you knew it, the Vikings were right back in the game.
Many wondered what changed. What was Ponder doing differently? Because he certainly didn’t look like the same guy from the first quarter.
Ponder recently made some comments that may shed some light on what did change:
“It’s just an attitude. I think mentally just telling myself that I’ve got to go out and play aggressively and play almost mad.”
“I just go out there and play with that sense of urgency and I think that starts with the tempo that you call the play and you break the huddle immediately and you get everyone to get up there and run the play. I think you can control a lot of that in the huddle.”
Playing mad, eh? I must admit, just from his general demeanor, he doesn’t strike me as an angry guy.
However, I say whatever gets the job done. If Ponder has to psyche himself up to play better, fine with me, because the team can’t afford to see any more of the first-quarter Ponder the rest of the season.
Once the switch was flipped, he completed 17 of his last 20 passes, including leading the team on game-tying and game-winning drives.
Over the years I’ve seen many players in all sports who play mad. For some it’s very effective, and others, not so much. The ones who are successful are the players who channel that anger into their play, and don’t let it overtake them.
So far Ponder appears to be able to channel his, but it’s only one game. Whatever he started doing differently in the second quarter last Sunday, I’d like to see him start that way this Sunday.