Christian Ponder: 5 Bold Predictions for Minnesota Vikings QB Rookie Season
Bold predictions are always an interesting beast simply because nearly everyone who reads them disagrees with them.
But what escapes many, is the simple point of the article—or in this sense, the assignment—being that it’s just a prediction, nothing more.
Sometimes going out on a limb and making a bold prediction is a great way to fire up debate between sports fans, provided they actually realize what’s in front of them, instead of just prematurely attack the words on the screen.
Can we debate whether or not Ponder will be a pretty good QB in 2011?
Sure, so long as everyone understands it’s based on speculation nothing more since the guy has never played a day of pro ball in his life.
For the sake of today’s piece, I’ll limit this slide to just 5 bold predictions; predictions that are obviously devoid of a crystal ball.
There’s a little bit of everything in here.
A bit of actual predictions mixed with a smidgen of dreaming.
After all, not every article I write has to be stuffy…sometimes a little fun goes a long way.
So if you’re game, come take a look.
A Quick Adaptation?
Christian Ponder’s history of injuries has Vikings fans biting their nails in hopes that those days are behind him.
Previous bouts with injuries tend to stand in the way of a player’s progress at a new level.
So assuming that Ponder stays healthy, I predict the following:
The CBA talks, and all the other league road blocks, stand it he way of the Vikings acquiring a viable veteran option that can come right in and be the man under center.
This allows the Vikings to test their theory of whether or not they do in fact have the next Matt Ryan—at the very least, a guy who can be thrown to the wolves and survive at the pro level.
The club casts Ponder out there and Ponder struggles right out of the gate (3-4) until Week 8 while in Carolina.
The Vikings marginally win elevating to 4-4 under Ponder's limited guidance.
The bye comes traipsing along the week after and Ponder finally puts things together, just enough, to finish the year with 3,210 passing yards, 16 TDs and 9 INTs.
Ponder Steals One From the Champs!
In his first go around against the Packers, Ponder doesn’t fare so well.
He gets picked off three times and fails to throw a TD.
Two weeks later, though, he shows how quickly he can learn by pulling the upset himself.
In a game that features a more methodical approach from the Vikings—in other words, keep the ball away from the Packers offense as much as possible—Ponder utilizes specific opportunities in the offensive attack when they come.
But Green Bay continues to show why they are the reigning Super Bowl champs making every down as brutalizing as the next.
The game winds up being a 14-14 tie with the closing moments at hand for Ponder and the Vikings.
On a third and long—let’s say 15 from the Packers' 31—Ponder opts to not gain a few yards and set up the FG, and goes for it all.
Hey, if the pass falls incomplete, the Vikings are still in FG range; albeit a long FG.
Ponder sends Kyle Rudolph in motion to the left, signals for the Mike backer to be aware of, and hikes the ball.
The Packers swarm out of that notorious Psycho package, which works really well against inexperienced rookies, might I add.
Ponder escapes with a routine move toward center, breaks away from the strong side and hits an open Percy Harvin in stride over the middle. Harvin is one-on-one with the covering safety en route to the game winning TD.
It is that game that lifts Ponder just enough to realize he does in fact have enough talent to be a pro quarterback for a long time.
A Playoff Berth?
The Vikings begin to realize they do in fact have a high-caliber quarterback and begin to balance him further with the ground game to maximize both realms of attack.
Ponder, though, continues to adapt to the speed and ferocity of the pro level.
In his final two games—assuming they will be crucial for a post season berth—Ponder gets the job done again, finishing the year high with two more wins in route to his first pro season playoff appearance.
Ponder and the Vikings, for the unofficial record, close the year at 10-6.
This one is a little biased towards what I would love to see happen, but!
The NFC surprisingly ends with Atlanta as the fifth seed wildcard and Minnesota the sixth seed wildcard behind the Packers (1), New Orleans (2), Rams (3) and Giants (4).
Subsequently, the Falcons (who would wind up playing the fourth-seeded Giants) win in commanding fashion and the Vikings (who would play the third-seeded Rams) pull the upset and move on in a third and final divisional showdown with the Packers.
Ponder puts up a fight in the first two quarters, but the Packers' crazy coverage schemes prove to be too much, resulting in a heartbreaking loss.
The point is this: What a great postseason this outcome would be and what a great way to end the year for Ponder, despite the loss.
Rookie of the Year?
Not of us have the ability to predict the future, and nobody thought Sam Bradford would’ve won RoY at the beginning of the 2010 season, except for a select few—and they were probably called idiots for making such a bold prediction.
Now look at them.
Ponder wins the award, becoming the third Vikings player to win RoY in five years alongside fellow teammates Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson.