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There is just no way around it, Christian Ponder has to show some signs of life over the last three games of the season, or the Vikings would be wise to look elsewhere for a starting quarterback for 2013.
The franchise line on Ponder has been a constant stream that sounds something like, "Christian has all the tools, he keeps on improving, we know he has to get better and he will."
That's what they have to say.
Like it or not, GM Rick Spielman and head coach Leslie Frazier have much of their future invested in Ponder; his success will be the No. 1 determining factor in theirs. Frazier has proved himself, he has a job for 2013 and he's earned it. Getting seven wins is already more than most people expected out of this club.
Spielman had a great draft last spring, but the truth is, fair or not, the most important pick a GM will ever make is that of a first-round quarterback. If Ponder isn't successful, he may ultimately bring down both Frazier and Spielman with him.
Expectations will be bigger in 2013, that's what happens when you exceed expectations—your rebuilding time-line drastically changes.
Ponder has been a mess in 2012, plain and simple. The idea that quarterbacks need time to develop in the NFL is a fair one (although it's being disproved all over the league right now). The problem is that Ponder is showing zero glimpses of improvement.
He was hailed for both his athleticism and his intellect when he was drafted in 2011. The two haven't meshed at all in 2012. He hasn't shown any feel for the game. He doesn't anticipate well, and he has shown no knack for making things happen.
It's true that the Vikings have horrible receivers and that's part of the Vikings' laughable passing numbers, but these guys made an NFL roster; they can't be as atrocious as the numbers are.
Ponder's QBR (the advanced quarterback metric that is a much better tool than passer rating) has been over 40 just once in his last eight games. And by the way, 40 is terrible.
For every Eli Manning that has taken three years to figure things out in the NFL, there are 25 examples of guys who haven't. (First of all, Eli has always been a bad example; his last name is Manning for god's sake.)
Time is ticking on Christian Ponder. He flat out hasn't looked like an NFL quarterback for over a year now. It's long past time for he and his coaches to stop telling us that he'll figure it out and to start showing us.