In 2012 the Minnesota Vikings‘ running game featured the best running back in the game in Adrian Peterson. At the same time the Vikings’ passing offense ranked 31st in the league, just 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 on paper.
When it came to addressing the inept passing game and the cesspool play of Christian Ponder they sent Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks while trying to replace him with project player Cordarrelle Patterson. They also sought a mentor for Ponder bringing in Matt Cassel, who was the only quarterback worse than Ponder!
What we saw from Ponder in the preseason was the kind of foibles and folly plays that looked more like Three Stooges outtakes than it did a highlight reel.
Going into week one when they faced off against the Detroit Lions, many Vikings fans took a deep breath and pinned their hopes on Adrian Peterson to take the pressure off the passing game. When he took the first handoff for a 78 yard score all of a Minnesota let out a sigh of relief.
What followed was a Reggie Bush gashing through the vulnerable middle of the defense putting the game out of reach for the ground game alone. The Vikings were forced to turn to Ponder’s noodle arm and cross eyed reads to win the game.
What Vikings fans got was a few great catches by an improved Jerome Simpson and three ugly picks by Ponder that sealed the game away without hope.
There is no denying that his stat line is pedestrian. In two years and 27 starts he’s averaging a 59.2 percent completion rate with a passer rating of 77.1. 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 he just isn’t a natural football player.
Adrian Peterson cannot continue to carry the offense on his shoulders and Ponder can’t throw to victory with his. The defense is too dinged up, too much a work in progress at a time when the team needs them to keep games in reach.
The Vikings look like a 4-12 team this year, which is a serious tumble from a 10-6 season and a playoff berth just a year ago.
Eric Beuning is a Football writer for RantSports.com.