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Christian Ponder is quickly becoming the most divisive figure in Minnesota.
It just comes with the territory of being an NFL quarterback not named Brady, Manning, Brees or Rodgers. (OK, we'll concede to Ryan and Griffin for now, but give it a minute.)
"He's not the answer at quarterback, and the Vikings are doomed to fail as long as he's the starter."
"How can you blame Ponder when he has nobody to throw to and never has any time to do anything?"
You can pick either side of the argument right now and have a lot of ammunition on your side. The numbers certainly aren't in Ponder's favor right now, but there's plenty of blame to go around when you start trying to explain those numbers.
Ponder put together a three-quarter stretch of football over the last two games where he completed two passes for 8 yards. Those are numbers for a third grader, not an NFL quarterback. So what's the deal? Is it growing pains? Bad personnel around him? A bad offensive scheme?
It's a little bit of all of those things.
Like any quarterback, Ponder has played a lot better when given time to set up and throw. Both Arizona and Tampa Bay put heavy rushes on him, and he hasn't reacted well at all.
Under the gun Ponder's consistency has vanished. He's making both poor decisions and poor throws, and it's killing any offensive momentum the Vikings are getting from superstars Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin.
Much has been made of Ponder's athleticism, and he's proved his legs can get him out of trouble. The problem right now is that he's throwing the ball so poorly on the run that it's negating any advantages his athletic ability might provide.
Everyone should be able to accept normal growing pains. Ponder knows he has to play better. What has to be fixed immediately however, are simple throws that can't be considered part of "learning the position." Ponder has missed open receivers three or four times in the last two weeks who were within 5 or 6 yards from him. That can't happen.
After starting the season protecting the ball very well, Ponder now has thrown seven interceptions, and the number could be as high as 10-12. That has to stop. For a team whose margin for error is tiny, Ponder simply has to keep his turnovers down.
Yes, of course, there are fingers to be pointed elsewhere. The offensive line must pass protect better. Adrian Peterson has to pick up his blocks quicker. The receivers have to get separation quicker. The offensive coordinator has to get more creative.
That's a lot of things that need fixing. Too bad for Ponder that all the fingers will first point to him. He's the quarterback. It comes with the territory.