Don't look now, but it's season three as the starting quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings for Christian Ponder.
Drafted with the 12th overall selection in 2011, Ponder has started 26 games for the Vikings, and while his play has been spotty at best, he's shown enough good things that Vikings coaches are hopeful that he will be the main guy for years to come.
There seem to be three different camps among Vikings fans when it comes to assessing Ponder. There are the faithful diehards who point to Ponder's moderately successful first and last four games of 2012 and tend to ignore the middle eight.
There's a smaller group who have seen enough and are convinced that Ponder will never be a quality starting quarterback in the NFL and that the Vikings will be looking elsewhere sooner rather than later.
Then there's the third and most populous group, those who haven't quite made up their minds yet. The reasons to be unsure on Ponder are many; he's looked good in some small stretches, middling and uninspiring for the most part, and completely awful at times. The simple truth is that his sample size probably isn't quite big enough yet to make any final decisions.
That will no longer be the case following the 2013 season.
Ponder will now have two full offseasons under his belt. The Vikings have bolstered their talent at the receiving positions. The offensive line remains intact from 2012. It's often said that by year three, the game should slow down for quarterbacks and that they can become more proactive than reactive.
Having said all of that, Christian Ponder's improvement is the single most important ingredient to the success of the Vikings' 2013 season.
Some numbers simply have to improve. The Vikings were eighth in the NFL in rushing attempts in 2012 and 28th in passing attempts. That has to become more balanced for the Vikings to get the most out of their offense.
According to ESPN's Ron Jaworski's NFL quarterback analysis, Ponder completed just 28 passes over 20 yards last year, by far the fewest of any 16-game starter. He had just six completions where the ball traveled over 20 yards in the air. His average pass attempt was just 6.43 yards, the lowest in the league.
In Ponder's defense it was certainly a run-first offense with terrible receivers and a passing scheme that was timid at best.
With Adrian Peterson on the field, the Vikings will remain a run-first team, but in order to be a better football team in 2013, the passing offense has to improve greatly.