After a fourth straight fairly dismal performance Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, speculation over the job security of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder started quickly. But head coach Leslie Frazier put any discussion of turning to Joe Webb under center to bed on Friday, suggesting that barring injury Ponder will remain in place as the starter going forward.
Ponder started the season solidly with zero interceptions over the first four games, but he has thrown seven interceptions over the past four games and has generally struggled with his accuracy. His struggles actually go back to Week 4 against the Detroit Lions when he threw for just 111 yards, so it’s fair to think if the Vikings had a more established backup the coaching staff would be more willing to bench him.
But Frazier said the team will remain patient with Ponder, the team’s offensive issues in recent weeks are not solely his fault. The offensive line had arguably their worst game of the season against Tampa Bay, and the shortcomings of the Vikings’ wide receivers not named Percy Harvin are clear. Tight end Kyle Rudolph has just two catches on six targets over the past two games, which has coincided with the offense’s struggles, so getting him back involved has to be a priority with the long week ahead of Week 9 against the Seattle Seahawks. If nothing else Rudolph is a capable red zone target for Ponder, where his size and catch radius make him a mismatch for opposing defenses.
If Ponder struggles again against the Seahawks in a tough environment on the road, the issue of his job status will certainly be revisited and Frazier will again have to answer questions about it. But unless the knee issue he has dealt with in recent weeks gets worse, we should not expect to see Webb under center any time soon.