Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder's 5 Keys to a Successful 2011 Season

Scott ReighardAnalyst IJune 28, 2011

Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder's 5 Keys to a Successful 2011 Season

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    I don’t care who you are, you have to feel sorry for this crop of rookies.

    If the lockout does not end soon, most would consider these rookie’s season a near loss. Christian Ponder stands amidst a myriad of draftees with high expectations from media, fans and professionals alike.

    In all honesty, I feel there are three QB’s who were taken in the draft that will have a difficult time this year transitioning due to the lockout and lack of being able to go through rookie camp, OTA’s and perhaps even a full camp.

    Those QB's are Jake Locker, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton.

    I say that because most likely these guys will be expected to start this year. Of the three teams with these quarterbacks, the Vikings are in the worst position. Why?

    Jake Locker might get some insulation from Kerry Collins, Dalton, for better or worse, has Jordan Palmer who has four years of experience, but Ponder has Joe Webb?

    No knock against Webb, but he is not a sixth-rounder of the Tom Brady mode; one who is going to go out there and put the Vikings in playoff contention. Sure, he may be a bridge, albeit a small one at that, and what if he goes out there and plays great? Hmm!

    All right, enough comparing, it’s time to put together five things Ponder must do in order to be successful this year once given the chance.

5: Be a Quick Study

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    If Ponder is going to be successful, he is going to be expected to learn as much in as little time as he can. Whether the Vikings sign a veteran QB—and all signs point to that—Ponder is still going to have to climb a steep learning curve quickly.

    As I pointed out in a previous article, even if the Vikings sign a veteran, what’s to say he will be able to run the offense right away? I think that whoever it is they bring in will be in a supporting role, and it may not be so easy to find someone who is willing to do that.

    With that said, the quicker Ponder “gets it” and executes, the sooner the Vikings can put to bed any kind of possible second guessing.

4: Establish a Relationship with Tight Ends

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    A rookie quarterback’s best friend is his TE.

    Minnesota has a very solid TE in Shiancoe, and the sky seems to be the limit for Rudolph, so it would benefit Ponder to huddle up his TE’s and establish that all important relationship that results in confident throws and resulting first downs.

3: Be Open Minded and Patient

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    As a first-round draft choice, Ponder is going to feel the pressure to perform. An important aspect to possibly being thrust into a starter situation is to be patient and open-minded to constructive criticism.

    He has to understand that he does not need to have all the answers right now. Known as an intelligent football player that might be tough for Ponder, and at first he may be very hard on himself.

    This is where the value of a Bill Musgrave will come into play.

2: Film, Film and More Film

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    Be a student of the game like no other.

    Other than playing the game, nothing prepares a player more than film study. He should not only be watching endless film of the opponents, but he should not be afraid to go back and look at tape of himself while at FSU; at least until he compiles enough game film as the Vikings signal caller.

1: When in Doubt, Turn Around and Hand It to “All Day”

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    In key No. 4 I talked about the tight end. My final key talks about a good running game.

    If you look at the early success of Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and even last year with Sam Bradford, a solid running game can do wonders for a young quarterback. Well, any QB for that matter, but especially the young guy.

    If they really want to take some of the pressure off Ponder, my hope is the Vikings employ a philosophy of 65/35, that being run 65 percent of the time, pass the other 35.

Final Thoughts

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    When the season starts, we still have no idea. We may have 16, 13 or even 8 games. Whichever the number is and whoever the Vikings try to pursue via free agency—a trade would not be a good deal—the Vikings are looking to a young man who certainly has what they were and are looking for.

    The real tragedy is that this class of rookies is already behind the eight ball. I hope the coaches, fans, and especially the media, are patient with this crop. We have to understand that most of them are just 21 or 22 years old. Hell, I was still watching cartoons at 22. Wait a minute, was? How about still. Sorry, TMI.

    Hopefully we will see a lot of the picture above, but in purple.

    How about your thoughts on this?