Donovan McNabb vs Christian Ponder: Who Should Be Vikings' Starting QB?

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IOctober 17, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 1: Donovan McNabb #5, Christian Ponder #7 and Joe Webb #14 of the Minnesota Vikings speak during the first half against the Houston Texans on September 1, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings benched quarterback Donovan McNabb in favor of rookie Christian Ponder during the second half of the Vikings' 39-10 loss to the Chicago Bears Sunday night. 

When asked who he would start next week against the undefeated Green Bay Packers, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier didn't give a clear answer and said that his staff will have to weigh their options today and tomorrow before making a decision. 

So who should start for the Vikings next week against the Packers, McNabb or Ponder?

There's a strong case for each quarterback. 

The Vikings are looking at a lost season with a 1-5 record, and their 29-point drubbing at the hands of the Bears last night didn't do much for locker room morale. Like the Denver Broncos are doing with Tim Tebow, positioning Ponder as the starter could provide a spark on offense while giving the franchise a good look at its first-round pick. 

Ponder certainly didn't embarrass himself in his first regular season action, either. He completed 9-of-17 passes for 99 yards while eluding a pass rush that got to McNabb several times.

For those of you on the Ponder bandwagon pushing for him to be the starter next week, not so fast.

McNabb still plans to start in Minnesota moving forward, and he said as much in his post-game press conference.

"I don't see it ending like this, as you say," McNabb told 1500 ESPN's Tom Pellisero. "But it's tough. You're 1-5 at this particular point. I felt like we did a lot of great things (Sunday). But I guess we'll sit down to talk, but I still expect to be in there next week."

Keeping McNabb in the starting lineup, at least for another week, might be the best choice for the Vikings. 

Minnesota welcomes the rival Packers to the Metrodome Sunday, and the NFL's defending Super Bowl champion and unquestioned No. 1 team in 2011 might not be the team you want to throw Ponder to in his first NFL start. 

For as poorly as McNabb has played at times in 2011, he still likely gives the Vikings their best chance to upset the Packers on Sunday. Despite playing at home, the Vikings are going to be double-digit underdogs regardless of who is playing quarterback. 

Let McNabb work his way through another week, and then decide what you want to do before you travel to Carolina to take on Cam Newton and the Panthers. The Vikings also have a bye week following their trip to Carolina that could theoretically give them time to get Ponder ready for his first start.   

There's obviously reason for the Vikings to consider starting Ponder, as McNabb has been a shell of his old Eagles' days. But you have to protect your investments, and Ponder is at the top of that list for the Vikings. 

I'd make sure I was confident in Ponder taking the No. 1 snaps with the offense, preferably with a full bye week mixed in, before I threw him into his first start. 

Still, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Vikings decided to start Ponder as soon as this Sunday. Eventually in 2011, Ponder will be the starting quarterback for Minnesota. I'm just not sure it should be as soon as some will think.