Minnesota Vikings: Why Leslie Frazier Should Sit Christian Ponder for the Season

Ray TannockSenior Analyst ISeptember 21, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 27: Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during the game against the Dallas Cowboys on August 27, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Cowboys defeated the Vikings 23-17. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

After two sub-par weeks of quarterback play from Donovan McNabb, some Minnesota fans are beginning to whisper about the possibility of giving Christian Ponder the nod, but keeping him on the bench for the entire season could still wind up being a much better decision.

Throughout two games, McNabb has completed 25 passes out of 45 attempts for 267 yards and a single touchdown and interception, so the rising fan-cry for Ponder might be expected here.

In McNabb’s defense, however, he is dealing with an inept play-calling situation, alongside receivers who just can’t get find separation off the line of scrimmage, let alone separation in the open field.

But as time goes on, a veteran quarterback can find ways to work with situations like this, certainly McNabb, who had to deal with the likes of Todd Pinkston in Philadelphia (2004) and STILL found ways to win.

As time goes on, the coaching staff will also find ways to adjust their offensive approach and the receivers will find ways to respond to their leader under center.

Why is it important to keeping Ponder benched?

Elevating yourself from rookie status to experienced leader not only takes time; it also takes education.

A developing quarterback can only learn so much from the playbook and film tapes, but he can surely learn a lot more by watching a veteran trying to make something out of what may seem like nothing.

In other words, the intangibles.

Would it benefit Ponder to get his feet wet? Sure, but the benefit would be greater if he is given the opportunity to simply watch, listen and learn from a distance.

Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and even Drew Brees—to some extent—were all afforded the same chance, and look at where they are now.

Brady was playing behind a sub-par Drew Bledsoe; Rodgers behind the immortal Brett Favre and Brees behind Doug Flutie.

All three rising rookies had quality veterans to learn from, and they learned rather well from their tutors.

The decision not only makes sense, but it has a proven track record for quarterbacks with a high ceiling for potential success.

If the Vikings find themselves at the bottom of the barrel after Week 8, it may not be a happy situation for the fans, but it will certainly be a great situation for Ponder so long as he sits.

Not convinced? Then consider this final analysis.

  • Ponder has 16 weeks to work on his mechanics under the tutelage of a proven veteran quarterback.
  • Ponder will have 16 games to learn how a LEADER tries to elevate his team to a higher standard, even in the face of adversity.
  • Ponder will have this time to ask questions, take notes, and decided to himself  “how would I have done things differently?”
  • Ponder has the chance to see McNabb’s attempts come to fruition, or die in the try; either way, there is valuable information to ascertain.
  • And after a full 16 on the wood, Ponder will have plenty to think about in the off-season and work on in a potential effort to become the NEW leader who will have the task of leading this team to greater heights.

You may not like it, Minnesota, but keeping Ponder benched this season will ensure this “quarterback of the future” is properly seasoned and trained, before his time comes traipsing along.