This weekend, the Lions will be perfectly happy to let Christian Ponder throw the ball and concentrate on bottling up Adrian Peterson.
I said as much in my Lions game preview and will likely say similar things when I flip it and do my Vikings game plan later today.
It's really simple and really obvious, but not for the reasons you think.
Yes, Christian Ponder has been bad lately. He has made bad reads, bad throws, probably kicked puppies—he's certainly made us feel like kicked puppies post-game, at least.
It's not all on him, though, and Tom Pelissero has done an outstanding job outlining why other people certainly share a ton of blame.
Teams want the Vikings to throw—because ultimately Ponder cannot do it all himself.
Take Percy Harvin out (and injury will do that to some extent this weekend), watch Kyle Rudolph come up short and let a bunch of mediocre (in some cases, sub-mediocre) receivers try to make magic.
It's no wonder Ponder has regressed so badly. It's one thing for us to think about how the receivers aren't playing well enough to help him and the offense. It's entirely different to hear NFL scouts pick the receivers apart.
It pretty much backs up what I've been seeing for weeks. It's not just Ponder, though he isn't playing well. He has nobody to throw to, so he has regressed—run back into his shell like a turtle.
Everything he did well in the first month or so? Forgotten. Because teams started taking away his better options and the rest of the receivers are not consistent enough to help out.
Great quarterbacks do indeed elevate the level of the players they have.
However, you only need look at some of the rookies this season to see that it's not always possible. Yes, Andrew Luck is playing well, but Reggie Wayne could be a Hall of Famer, and Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen are very good.
Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III is working with an aging Santana Moss, lost his tight end and he has a bevy of mediocrity to throw to. He's has had some games where he struggled.
On the far end is Russell Wilson, who has almost nothing to throw to in Seattle, save for (occasionally) Sidney Rice. From a talent-to-quarterback standpoint, he's the best comparison, but he's so much more mobile than Ponder.
The point is though, as much as I love Wilson, he's not likely to be an 'elite' quarterback—just a damned good one. The two, with the exception of Wilson's running, are very close in stats and production.
Frankly, I think they are close in development as well.
Ponder has that same potential Wilson has—he can be a damned good quarterback. But he needs help.
So it comes down to the same thing we've talked about many times before—this is a work in progress, a rebuilding team who needs parts. This offseason and during the draft, the Vikings need to pick up offensive talent to help supplement Harvin, Peterson and to a lesser extent, Rudolph.
Ponder needs time to develop. He needs to improve, no doubt—make better decisions and choices.
He also needs help.
On to the rest of the NFC North.
And Lo, Arian Foster came to Illinois and there was much woe—if the Bears can't stop him, that is. It's a big test for the defense, according to ESPNChicago's Jeff Dickerson.
Dan Pompei of the Tribune says Houston defensive end Whitney Mercilus has something he wants to prove to the Bears this weekend.
Still on the fence or have any issues with Charles Tillman maybe missing a game for the birth of a child?
BOOM. (from Kevin Seifert at ESPN's NFC North blog)
While the Lions' secondary is banged up and has had some struggles as a group, Jeff Seidel says in the lFree Press that, as a unit, they are a tight group. (also, Louis Delmas called them Skittles. You have to read it to believe it.)
Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News says that even though the special teams for the Lions was horrible to start the season off, they have turned things around lately.
ESPN.com reports that Calvin Johnson has nerve damage, and it's so bad he has issues gripping the ball.
Zach Kruse takes a deep look at the stats for the Packers' offense at CheeseheadTV.com.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy was interviewed on Mike & Mike in the Morning over at ESPN Radio.
The Packers are getting production from their defensive rookies this season, says the Journal-Sentinel's Tom Silverstein.
Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press talks turnovers and sluggish effort in today's column.
Chris Carter believes the Vikings can still make the playoffs, according to The Star-Tribune's Sid Hartman.
Also in the Star-Tribune, Dan Weiderer says head coach Leslie Frazier is still holding out hope that Percy Harvin will play.
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