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There has been no hotter seat in the NFL at the quarterback position over the past six weeks than in Minnesota. The Vikings have had three different starting quarterbacks this season, though they have circled back to third-year signal-caller Christian Ponder after he started the first three games of the season.
Ponder initially suffered a rib injury against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 and missed the Vikings’ next game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers as a result, but the Vikings did not give the struggling quarterback his job back immediately upon his return from injury.
Matt Cassel, who led the Vikings to their first (and to this point, only) win of the season against the Steelers, started Minnesota’s next game against the Carolina Panthers after its Week 5 bye. Midseason signing Josh Freeman then went on to start for Minnesota in Week 7 against the New York Giants before Ponder got his job back in Week 8 in a game with rival Green Bay.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who could also be on the hot seat after the team's 1-7 start, said Ponder will remain the starter for at least Week 10, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
There are reasons, though, why Ponder did not get his job back immediately upon his return from injury. With just 214.4 passing yards per start and three touchdowns compared to six interceptions, his poor play has been a significant factor in the Vikings losing all five games he has started.
Ponder’s 72.6 quarterback rating ranks 28th among qualifying starting quarterbacks this season. The Vikings should certainly be in the market for a new long-term quarterback option in 2014, but if Ponder does not pick up his play, he could lose the starting job back to Cassel or Freeman before even getting through the rest of this season.