Bucs vs Vikings: What Christian Ponder's Heinous Performance Means for Minnesota

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IOctober 26, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 25: Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during the third quarter of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 25, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Buccaneers defeated the Vikings 36-17. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

After a strong start to the season, Christian Ponder appears to be going backward.

The second-year quarterback has tossed seven interceptions in his last four games, including one against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Minnesota Vikings' 36-17 loss on Thursday night.

It's beginning to become a concern.

Ponder had three straight solid performances to start off the season. He completed 20 of 27 passes for 270 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27 of 35 for 245 yards and two touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts and 21 of 35 for 198 yards and two touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers.

That's when it all began to unravel.

I don't know what has happened to Ponder since Week 3, but he has looked like a completely different player. While his stats against the 49ers weren't as impressive as his first two games, that was his most impressive game of the season to me. He was facing a staunch defense and he made some throws that screamed "franchise quarterback."

However, against the Detroit Lions, he averaged 4.3 yards per pass attempt.

He then threw seven interceptions in his next four games.

Ponder's inconsistency means that the Vikings offense will be inconsistent week in and week out. Adrian Peterson rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against a Buccaneers team allowing 3.1 yards per carry (best in the NFL), but Ponder couldn't capitalize.

With that being said, Peterson did have a costly fumble in the game.

Minnesota converted 5 of 13 third downs on Thursday night. That's simply not going to get it done. Ponder has the tools to be a legitimate starter in the NFL, but he hasn't progressed this season, for whatever reason.

It's all about progress when evaluating young quarterbacks. As Ponder regresses, so will the Vikings. The rushing attack and defense can't be relied on every game.

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