Monday, December 3, 2012

Lambeau Buzzkill Analysis

Christian Ponder Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings scrambles to avoid the rush during a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 2, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The Packers defeated the Vikings 23-14.
Is Christian Ponder's time with
the Vikings running out?
Words cannot describe the thoughts going through my mind as I take a look back at this game. What an absolute buzzkill to a season that had bundles of potential. A defense that was emerging, a career year for one of the best running backs in the NFL and nothing to show for it. Once again we are witnessing that a quarterback and a coaching staff are holding up a decent team from making a run to the playoffs. Christian Ponder's decision making was terrible and he made the worst throw of his NFL career outside of halftime. I'm frustrated by the way the plays are being called and how a wide receiver didn't record a reception until two minutes left in the game. This is partly the wide receivers responsibility, but based on watching tape back, receivers were open, just not targeted. Ponder has had three less than stellar games this season and has never been pulled from the game to think about his mistakes. We all hated T-Jack and rightfully so, but was he ever quite this bad? I checked out the stats and it isn't even close. Leslie Frazier should have made a statement and displayed that these types of decisions are unacceptable.
In yesterday's game, the Packers defense couldn't stop the run, which was more reason for Joe Webb to enter the game. His scrambling ability and arm strength would have been successful and could have salvaged a winnable game. He wouldn't have missed Adrian on the wheel route at the start of the 4th quarter and wouldn't have made near the amount of poor decisions Ponder has continually made. I don't understand why Coach Frazier can't stand up and make an executive decision to improve our offense. When our defense allows only 23 points, we should be winning ball games. This all starts with coaching and may eventually cost Frazier his job if he is using Ponder as a crutch. I understand as an organization we drafted Ponder and would like to see him develop into the future of this franchise. I like Pander’s personality and want him to succeed, but are we playing to develop quarterbacks or to make the playoffs? That's the question I want answered and it will be very soon.
In order to completely see whether playcalling is yielding the offense struggles, or if Ponder is the problem, is to replace Ponder with Webb to see if the issue is still present. Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming Ponder entirely for this loss, but it rested heavily on his shoulders. Coach Musgrave is part two of the equations, but it currently is unknown based on the way Ponder is playing. Receivers were open during the game, but is the playcalling a contribution to the struggles? I believe it is and that it will cost Musgrave or possibly the coaching staff their jobs.

 Leslie Frazier has been anything but successful as the head coach of this team. With a 9-19 record as full head coach of this roster, he hasn't led this team to victory. He won several games as an interim coach, but he wasn't the man in charge of scheming and doing everything to defeat the adversary. Leslie has one of the best personalities and has always been friendly to fans and members of the Minnesota Vikings, but this is a business. In the NFL, teams want to win and our team is in the process of developing quarterbacks. Everyone refers to Frazier as a piece of Tony Dungy, but Dungy was unsuccessful in Tampa Bay and then made his way to Indianapolis, where he was given one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history in Peyton Manning. The Vikings organization hasn't had a stable quarterback since the days of Fran Tarkenton and have relied on veterans to carry them at this position. Now we draft a quarterback, in hopes to find one for the future and we look terrible on the field. Why are quarterbacks like RG3, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson more successful than Ponder, with a year less experience? They were elite quarterbacks coming out of the NCAA and had proven themselves. Ponder was definitely a reach and was not worthy of the 12th overall selection.
Ponder's poor arm strength was a concern coming out of Florida State and the issue is still prevalent in his play. The Vikings organization preached that through work they would fix this issue and develop Ponder into an elite level quarterback. This hasn't happened and was a key factor this organization pushed during the offseason. Frazier must believe that if Ponder shows progress during the last four games, he may be able to save his job. A coaching staff's job is to develop players and mold them into an elite level, but Ponder has been a failure. I'm not ready to give up completely on Ponder, but based upon his current level of experience, we should be seeing improvement, not regression.

Our veterans need to step up and rally this team to the point of winning ballgames down the stretch. I think the guys respect Leslie and the coaching staff, but want to win. We are burning away talent of veterans such as Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, Percy Harvin, and Jared Allen in the prime of their careers. It is sad to feel like talent is being wasted and because of the future, these players are being thrown down the drain.

We've had chances to defeat Chicago and Green Bay and both were missed opportunities. With better play from Ponder and elite coaching, we could be at the top of the league. I believe the only way we will be able to connect the dots is by placing Joe Webb in the game to see where the problem is coming from. I respect 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh for making a decision to start Colin Kaepernick. Alex Smith was struggling and Kaepernick had the hot hand. Harbaugh felt like making the switch at quarterback gave his team the best chance to win. Coach Frazier should think about his decision to stick with Ponder during the last few games of the seasons. If Ponder is struggling in the first half of the game vs. the Bears next Sunday, Frazier must make a statement and remove Ponder from the game. The "boo-birds" will be in full swing on Sunday at Mall of America Field and this time Coach Frazier might just cave into the pressure of the fans.

I don't want people to get the feeling that I'm the type of Vikings fan that sways whichever way the wind blows. I'm not that type of fan. I want to see the Vikings win football games and it is very frustrating to watch us be so close, but yet so far away from Winnersville, USA. I respect the individuals that I critiqued during this article, but the NFL is a business and the job is to win football games. Ponder and Frazier are great people, but have struggled to be successful over a period of time in which we should see improvement.
I hope more than anyone that if Ponder gets the opportunity he proves the fans, coaches, and organization wrong by winning convincingly next Sunday. If we see a similar performance, his job could be in jeopardy. I want to see this team win the last four and give themselves a realistic chance at the playoffs, but with the type of play coming from the most important position on the field, 52 players will have to wait to reach their ultimate dream.

It's a sad, sad, day Vikings fans, but let's stay positive and hope the issue will be resolved by itself in the form of 4 successful games to close the season.


 Until then Loserville, USA................

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