As much as Minnesota Vikings fans are beginning to hate Christian Ponder, there’s no reason the team should unseat him as the starting quarterback at this point in the season.
Despite their disappointing loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9, the Vikings have far more culprits to point fingers at than just Ponder.
The former first-round pick completed 67.6 percent of his passes (his best percentage of the season) for 236 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He compiled a respectable 82.7 passer rating and, apart from the interception, wasn’t as ineffective as people make him out to be. Ponder even made an impact with his feet, picking up 29 yards and six points on the ground.
Meanwhile, the defense fell apart in the final Cowboys drive, giving up the game-sealing touchdown. All three starting linebackers failed miserably in coverage, allowing underneath routes all day long to Cole Beasley and Jason Witten. How about Charlie Johnson’s miserable run blocking, or the strip-sack-turned-touchdown that J’Marcus Webb allowed? The blame always seems to fall on Ponder, yet he was far from the only player to make costly mistakes on Sunday.
That’s why the Vikings should stick with the “hot hand” – that term is used very loosely here – moving forward. Ponder might not be an ideal starting quarterback, but he’s a better option than any other passer they currently have on the roster.
As much of a waste as keeping Josh Freeman on the bench appears to be, his first start for the Vikings was enough to keep him on the pine for the remainder of the 2013 campaign. As for Matt Cassel, we’ve already seen all there is to see from him and he simply isn’t a better overall package than Ponder.
It’s a virtual guarantee that Ponder never develops into the franchise passer the Vikings were hoping for when they drafted him, but he’s still their best bet. He has the best chemistry with the rest of the Minnesota offense, and surprisingly brings a bit of excitement (and headaches). With a 1-7 record and all hope lost for the season, what more could you ask for?
Minnesota already confirmed he will start in Week 10, but, assuming he stays healthy, Ponder deserves to start for the rest of the season as well.
If the Vikings are lucky, Ponder will keep making the untimely mistakes we’ve all come to expect and land GM Rick Spielman a Top 3 pick to work with during the 2014 NFL Draft.