According to a report by USA Today, Ponder suffered a rib injury during the loss to the Cleveland Browns last week, and his status for this week's game in London against the Pittsburgh Steelers is uncertain. In the report, Ponder was quoted as saying:
I don't have a concern right now. I guess the concern may come after Friday's practice to see where I'm at. But right now (Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman)'s doing a good job of devising a game plan for us to work on what we can do to make it better and we'll see how it goes.
The fans vocally expressed their displeasure, and it's officially put Ponder on the hot seat. Vikings quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson had this to say about Ponder's current situation:
The bottom line is — and he knows this — if you do not win the game, you're getting the blame. That's just the way it is. Suck it up. You're no different than quarterbacks in every other part of the country. When you lose, you're getting the blame. That's part of the deal.
While the fans are calling for Matt Cassel to step in and replace Ponder, there's only one way he can save his job—playing.
If Ponder sits out with the injury and Cassel looks even the slightest bit better than him, fans will be calling for the backup to become the starter, and the Vikings' coaching staff might decide to pull the trigger, regardless of whether or not they win or lose.
On the other hand, if Ponder does play, there's a chance that he can hold on to his job. The Vikings will need to get the win, however, or things will not look good for Ponder.
This isn't going to be an easy task for Ponder, who will be going up against a strong Steelers defense. The Steelers have allowed less than 183 passing yards per game—the third-fewest yards in the NFL. However, they've forced zero interceptions and have an opposing QB rating of 83.0.
We've already seen that it isn't too early for a team to pull the plug on its starting quarterback. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Josh Freeman had been benched in Tampa Bay after its 0-3 start, and Mike Glennon will take his place as the starting QB.
Bucs have made the move: Benching Josh Freeman for Mike Glennon, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 25, 2013
Fans are not happy in Minnesota, and Ponder needs to prove that he can help lead this team to wins. If he cannot do that this week, then his starting job will likely be gone.