Green Bay Packers: Can Christian Ponder Be Stalled by the Pack's Secondary?

Elyssa GutbrodContributor INovember 10, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 23: Howard Green #95 and Erik Walden #93 of the Green Bay Packers put pressure on Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter on October 23, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Packers defeated the Vikings 33-27. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

When the Green Bay Packers squared off against the Minnesota Vikings on Oct, 23, they found themselves in the position of being the first to play against rookie quarterback Christian Ponder.

For some, the quarterback substitution was cause for celebration before the game. After all, the defending Super Bowl champions should have no problems dismantling an offense led by a rookie who had taken snaps with the first string team for less than a week…right?

For other fans, though, the Christian Ponder substitution was cause for consternation. Although it’s sometimes hard to remember, over the past year couple of years, the team has demonstrated a chronic inability to stop or even slow down offenses led by little-known quarterbacks.

The penultimate example of that is, of course, the 2009 loss to the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers led by rookie Josh Freeman in his NFL debut.

Or maybe it’s easier to recall the 2010 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, where then-backup quarterback Michael Vick nearly overcame a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Of course, Vick in that case wasn’t exactly a rookie in the traditional sense, but he had been out of the NFL for most of the past four years and had changed offensive schemes. There was no tape to study for him that would truly help the defense prepare to face him.

In 2011, the Packers faced rookie Cam Newton in Week 2. With only one week of tape for Newton’s professional career to study, the defense had trouble slowing him down.

Three weeks ago, Christian Ponder was the latest rookie quarterback challenger to face the Packers. Like other rookie quarterbacks before him, Ponder was able to make a lot of magic happen against the Green Bay defense.

Fortunately for the Packers, the high-octane offense has managed to bail out the porous defense thus far this year. With Green Bay’s constant struggles against little-known and rookie quarterbacks, though, should fans be concerned about Sunday’s upcoming game?

On Sunday, the Packers will face Christian Ponder and the Vikings once again. This will be Ponder’s fourth NFL start, and he will have the momentum of a great victory against the Carolina Panthers at his back.

In addition to a few more weeks of NFL experience under Ponder’s belt and the best running back in the league, three Vikings starters who sat out against the Packers the first time they met will take the field Sunday. This will be a completely different game than the one that played out on Oct. 23.

That being said, the Packers will also have something they lacked three weeks ago: an idea of what Ponder is capable of bringing to the field.

Sure, the Dom Capers-run defense has failed to perform to last year’s standards, but they have demonstrated that they are still capable of making big plays when the chips are down and the win is on the line.

With better preparation against the Vikings new offensive look, the defense should be better prepared to spend less time reacting and more time simply playing football.

Oh, and the Packers will also have the ever-important home field advantage.

Christian Ponder has the potential to be the new face of the Vikings franchise. He’s a good all-around quarterback who has demonstrated that he can be excellent on the field.

Although the Packers are 13-point favorites this Sunday, don’t be surprised to see this turn into an entertaining game as Ponder gets a second shot at the struggling Packers secondary. He was able to get the better of them in two of four quarters the last time they met, and he’ll do whatever he can to keep his edge.

All in all it will be interesting to see whether Dom Capers or Bill Musgrave comes out the victor in the chess match between the Packers defense and the Vikings offense.