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NFL Trade Rumors: Despite Donovan McNabb Trade, Christian Ponder Should Start

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:  Donovan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins looks on against the New York Giants on December 5, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Ray TannockSenior Analyst IJuly 27, 2011

Unless you have lost touch with the common sports world in the last few hours, Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb will become a member of the Minnesota Vikings.

For a fantasy evaluation of this deal, come check out if McNabb holds any fantasy value.

But that doesn’t mean McNabb is the immediate guy or even favorite to start the 2011 season, and in fact, my money is still on Christian Ponder starting this year.

Why?

Donovan McNabb is a bona-fide West Coast offense kind of guy and anyone who knows McNabb understands this as truth.

But the offensive strategy that OC Bill Musgrave is deploying is not the WCO.

Ergo, it will take time that is not available for McNabb to get up to speed alongside getting familiar with the players who will surround him.

Christian Ponder not only is more familiar with this offense, but he has already been working with his teammates and has already played a version of Musgrave’s offense in his time at FSU. The Vikings are not going to just throw McNabb to the wolves to justify the acquisition.

The other issue here is McNabb’s potential role. On the one hand, the Vikings wanted a proven veteran who could help cultivate Christian Ponder’s growth as a rookie, but on the other hand, they also wanted that veteran to be some pretty good insurance.

In addition, the Vikings also want the best available quarterback to open up the season, no matter who that may be. When I say best, I don’t mean historically. I mean the guy who has the most extensive knowledge of the system come Opening Day, which will be Ponder.

But I digress.

Does this mean that the Vikings simply brought in a veteran arm that will never play? Certainly not.

If Ponder struggles early on, then yes, McNabb will take over.

If McNabb somehow learns the system extensively and outplays Ponder through preseason, then McNabb will be under center for the first game of the season.

But given the short amount of time involved here, and the head start that Ponder gave himself by getting to work early, one has to imagine there is a very slight chance McNabb opens the season at the helm.

But hey, holding a clipboard and being a mentor who is starter-ready isn’t such a bad gig, now is it?

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