It’s time for the Vikings to Ponder their future. While no decision has been made on a permanent change at starting quarterback, when head coach Leslie Frazier put Christian Ponder in to replace Donovan McNabb in the third quarter, the seeds of the quarterback controversy were planted.
Frazier said, “We’re going sit down on Monday and just talk about a lot of things and just decide on what direction we want to go.”
That certainly leaves the door open either way, but with the Vikings at 1-5, they need to start thinking about the future and the future rests with their first round draft choice, as opposed to the veteran who will turn 35 next month.
However, McNabb isn’t ready to just go quietly into the night.
“I don’t see it ending like this, as you say,” McNabb said. “But it’s tough. You’re one-and-five 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.”
“I’m going to keep fighting to the end.”
To be fair, McNabb hasn’t been the source of all their problems, but he does get a healthy measure of the blame for the Vikings start. He was brought in to win games, and to mentor the rookie quarterback. The winning part certainly hasn’t materialized.
The Vikings have the 3rd best running attack in the league, averaging over 140 yards per game, but they have the 31st ranked passing attack. McNabb is averaging a little over 150 yards per game and completing about 60 percent of his passes, with 4 TDs and 2 INTs.
His numbers are very ho-hum for a veteran with his background.
Ponder was solid in the fourth quarter, completing 9 of 17 passes, with no TDs and no INTs. No glaring weaknesses, and showed promise both passing the ball on some key completions, and running the ball, when he took off for 8 yards to pick up a key first down.
“I was very grateful for the opportunity that Coach let me go in,” Ponder said. “I thought I made some plays, thought I missed some plays, missed a couple throws. But I definitely had fun. It’s always hard to have fun when you’re losing that bad, but I was grateful and I definitely had fun.”
McNabb complimented Ponder’s performance, but viewed it more of getting some experience during a time when the game was out of reach than really a statement about making a permanent change.
McNabb explained, “The kid’s got to get some reps, and in that situation, he wanted to get him some work. Obviously, you want to keep fighting with your team. But knowing the situation, it was probably the best thing for him.”
“I don’t know,” Ponder said when asked about whether he expected to become the starter next week. “Who knows? I know I missed a couple plays, made a couple plays. But that’s not my call. That’s always Coach’s call, and Donovan didn’t have a bad game this game either. But who knows? We’ll see.”
Next week may not be the most opportune time for a rookie quarterback to get his first start, as the undefeated Super Bowl champion Packers come to town. Waiting another week (and probably another loss) would make more sense, to give Ponder his first start against the 1-5 Carolina Panthers, and fellow rookie quarterback Cam Newton.
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