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Minnesota Vikings: Stick with Christian Ponder at QB

Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder has had a tough three-week stretch. But Minnesota cannot give up on him as its future.
Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder has had a tough three-week stretch. But Minnesota cannot give up on him as its future.Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Mike NelsonCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2011

The Minnesota Vikings must stick with Christian Ponder, long term.

It’s been three tough weeks for the rookie quarterback—he’s thrown as many touchdowns as interceptions (four), but worse yet, he’s completed 48.1 percent (25-of-52) of his passes.

And in the last contest he was knocked out with a concussion.

Despite calls for Ponder to be benched for a change under center, the fact is the franchise set itself up for the current predicament when it reached for Ponder with the No. 12 pick in last year's draft.

Yes, Ponder has looked awful the past three weeks.

He’s thrown passes too high; he’s thrown passes too low; he’s thrown passes too far in front of receivers; he’s thrown passes too far behind; he’s looked uncomfortable in the pocket.

All the while, he hasn’t been able to inspire his teammates to be better, which is part of the job of an NFL quarterback.

And against the New Orleans Saints, many of his teammates looked like they gave up once before the clock even read 0:00.

Joe Webb is not the answer at quarterback. He is a phenomenal athlete, but the plays he has made at quarterback have been driven by his natural athleticism and not his abilities as a future pocket passer in the league.

Some would like the Vikings to seek out another quarterback in the 2012 draft. But that is not the answer. Minnesota already took Ponder too high, making it very difficult for them to find equal value for Ponder via trade this offeason.

While the last three weeks stick out in our “what have you don’t for me lately?” world, do not forget about Ponder's performances earlier in the season.

In his first NFL start, against the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in Week 7, he nearly made Minnesota the first team to beat Green Bay. He showed signs of a strong leader, able to take a team places in this league.

And in the Week 13 loss against the Denver Broncos he threw for 381 yards to go along with three touchdown tosses.

The former Florida State Seminole has shown signs and made plays that make him look like a viable franchise quarterback down the road to accompany the terrible passes previously mentioned.

In three of his first six NFL starts, he completed over 60 percent of his passes. By comparison, that’s a feat Peyton Manning didn’t accomplish, Drew Brees matched Ponder, and Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers completed at least 60 percent of their passes in four of their first NFL starts.

Manning was the only quarterback in that group whose first six starts came as a rookie.

That’s just it: Ponder is a rookie. This is how rookies learn. This is a period of growth for Ponder. And while it’s painful to watch now, Minnesota has to take the bad now in hopes that it will amount to good in the future.

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