What is wrong with the Minnesota Vikings?
Now there’s a question that’s been asked in every living room, office and sports bar across the land of 10,000 lakes since Bud Grant retired for the second time in 1985.
After watching the first two preseason games just about every Vikings fan has an ache deep in their bones to watch Adrian Peterson put on a show running the football. At the same time I think we’re all excited to see what Cordarrelle Patterson can do on special teams.
We need to look deeper for the culprit of the Vikings’ woes. It comes down to either the defense which ranked 16th overall but 24th against the pass. Or is the problem is the passing game which came in 31st in 2012, one spot worse than the New York Jets and one spot better than the Kansas City Chiefs!
In the offseason Rick Spielman and the Vikings front office made some moves in free agency and the draft to shore up the defense. So I’m willing to take a wait and see stance there.
What did the Vikings do about the inept passing game this offseason? They sent Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks and brought in Matt Cassel, who last year was quarterback of the only passing offense that was worse than Minnesota!
In 2012 we saw Adrian Peterson put up the second best season of any running back in the history of the game. The end result was a 10-6 finish and a wild card loss to the Green Bay Packers. In order to do better the team will have to pin its hopes for a championship run on the noodle arm of Christian Ponder.
I think it’s only fair we take a closer look at the man with whom the team’s hopes and dreams rise and sink.
Ponder was taken by the Vikings with the 12th pick in the 2011 draft. He was the MVP of the Senior Bowl after a successful collegiate career at Florida State. Within minutes of selecting Ponder the Vikings explained their choice by claiming that he showed the best combination of intelligence and experience of the quarterbacks available. Maybe they just hadn’t heard of Andy Dalton.
Since taking over from Donovan McNabb early in the 2011 season, Ponder has met with intense scrutiny from fans and analysts alike. Maybe it’s the fact that he feels too much like the second coming of Tarvaris Jackson, only with less running ability?
There is no denying that his stat line is pedestrian. In two years and 26 starts he’s averaging a 59.2 percent completion rate with a passer rating of 77.1. He has a total of 4788 yards with 31 touchdowns to 25 interceptions. Roughly he’s managed in two seasons what Matt Ryan did in one, except Ryan threw 11 less picks.
I don’t think the problem comes down to his intellect or his skill set or even where he is in the maturation process. What it really comes down to is that just like there are some players who love the game and some who simply play it, there are also players who are naturals at the game and some who aren’t.
When I watch Ponder play, he spends too much time thinking, reading, worrying or worse yet just blindly throwing the ball where the play was intended to go. There is no aspect of his game as a professional that looks like he is a natural at playing it. Instead he is sort of just stumbling forward, suffering from paralysis by analysis.
It’s not like the Vikings can count on his clay footed back up Matt Cassel to take over the helm should Ponder stumble again. All the team really can do is hope that Peterson can keep churning out the yards while the improved defense can keep them in the game.
Eric Beuning is a Fantasy Football writer for RantSports.com.