2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Vikings' finish may have solidified Ponder's role

By JON KRAWCZYNSKI - AP Sports Writer
    2013-01-06 14:59

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Christian Ponder's future as the Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback may have been sewn up without him even throwing a pass.

Ponder was a late scratch for the divisional playoff game against Green Bay on Saturday night, leaving the Vikings offense in the hands of backup Joe Webb, an intriguing athlete that many impatient fans were clamoring for earlier in the season when Ponder was struggling.

In his first extended action of the season, Webb delivered a dreadful performance in a 24-10 loss at Lambeau Field that ended Minnesota's surprising season. He completed just 11 of 30 passes for 180 yards, one touchdown and one interception while Ponder watched from the sideline as a late scratch because of a bruised triceps muscle in his throwing arm.

``It was tough,'' Ponder said after the game. ``Obviously, the whole team has been through a lot and for us to get our first playoff experience and everything it was tough. But we've just got to look forward to next year and hopefully we're going to have more opportunities to do it. I've just got to work my butt off to get back here.''

It seems more certain than ever that Ponder will be the guy again when next year rolls around, which wasn't always the case in a rocky first full season as the man. Ponder started out strong during the team's 5-2 start, but struggled mightily during a stretch of four losses in five games that threatened to waste star running back Adrian Peterson's remarkable comeback season. The fans started to turn on him, booing him at the Metrodome and flooding talk radio shows with calls for the supremely athletic Webb to get a shot.

Ponder went six straight weeks with a completion percentage below 55 percent and three times failed to hit the 100-yard mark, turning the Vikings into a one-dimensional offense that relied almost solely on Peterson's individual brilliance.

But with their playoff hopes hanging by a thread, Ponder finally started to respond. He completed nearly 71 percent of his throws in a win at St. Louis on Dec. 16, avoided the big mistakes in a win at Houston the following week and came up with his best game as a pro in the biggest game of the season - 234 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Green Bay that go the Vikings into the playoffs.

Ponder badly wanted to try to build on that momentum and the confidence he gained by winning a shootout with Aaron Rodgers at the Metrodome, but his arm just wouldn't cooperate. He tried to get it loose all week and even tested it out on Saturday morning before determining that he could not make the throws he needed to make.

Neither could Webb.

In a curious offensive strategy, the Vikings only ran the read option a few times during the game and mostly on the first drive, instead asking Webb to essentially be Ponder by dropping back and running a more conventional passing offense. Webb's passes often missed Vikings receivers by several yards, which allowed the Packers to load up at the line of scrimmage to contain Peterson.

``There are a lot of plays I would like to have back,'' Webb said. ``I haven't touched the field since August, that's no excuse. I feel our team really came here expecting a victory and Green Bay is a great team and a tough team at home. It was a great learning experience.''

If anything, the performance showed how much better the Vikings offense is when Ponder is taking the snaps, and may have given him an even stronger standing in the locker room, and with the fans.

It also illustrated the glaring need for a capable backup. Ponder battled injuries in college at Florida State and in his first two seasons in the NFL. The Vikings have also been developing McLeod Bethel-Thompson. But they could be in the market this offseason for a quality veteran as well who can step in and run the offense that Ponder runs all season, rather than having a second-stringer like Webb, who has a vastly different skill set and needs major adjustments to the system to have a chance to be effective.

``We mixed some of those read-options along the way,'' head coach Leslie Frazier said. ``But at some point, you would like to complete some passes. Early on we did have them off-balance and had some opportunities in the passing game, but we just couldn't connect.''

---

AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell in Green Bay, Wis., contributed to this report.

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Peyton ManningJan 30 12:52p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning may make a decision on whether he plans to return for another season in the near future, according to his dad, Archie Manning. Archie [ More ]

Brandon MarshallJan 30 10:42a

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall may not return to the team in 2015, in the opinion of ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright. The thinking is that Marshall and WR Alshon [ More ]

LeSean McCoyJan 30 02:32a

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy has said he would restructure his contract to lower the $11.95 million cap hit for 2015, but he will not take a pay cut.

Larry FitzgeraldJan 29 05:52p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald's new contract should be able to get worked out this offseason, according to team president Michael Bidwill. 'Larry and I have met about it, [ More ]

Earl ThomasJan 29 01:12p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) was administered a human growth hormone test by the league Wednesday, Jan. 28, and he believes it was directed at him after he [ More ]

Austin CollieJan 29 03:33a

Free-agent WR Austin Collie (Patriots) signed a contract with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League on Wednesday, Jan. 28.

Tom BradyJan 28 12:33p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (illness) admitted that he is currently battling a cold, but he said he expects to be 100% ready for the Super Bowl Sunday, [ More ]

Brandon MebaneJan 27 11:23p

Seattle Seahawks DL Brandon Mebane (hamstring) said Tuesday, Jan. 27, that his hamstring surgery went well and he should be full go for the team's offseason program in April.

Richard ShermanJan 27 11:23p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (elbow) has torn ligaments in his elbow, but he is improving daily and he is no longer receiving treatment for the injury.

LeGarrette BlountJan 27 08:33p

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount should be a factor in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Feb. 1, in the opinion of Boston Herald writer Karen [ More ]

Adrian PetersonJan 27 07:43p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson was directed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to meet with a league-assigned psychiatrist following Peterson's suspension. The National Football League Players Association is now [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiJan 27 12:23p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is an offensive weapon that the Seattle Seahawks are focused on shutting down during the Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1. Seahawks head coach [ More ]

Trent RichardsonJan 27 10:43a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson's one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team voided the guarantee of a $3,184,062 salary in 2015.

Josh GordonJan 26 02:13p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is in Stage Three of an alcohol program, which requires him to be tested for alcohol for a minimum of two years. His failed [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiJan 26 02:03p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski could cause a problem for the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX, because the Seahawks defense allowed 11 touchdowns to tight ends this [ More ]

Earl ThomasJan 26 02:03p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) said he won't miss the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots with a dislocated shoulder, but he also admitted that it won't [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 01:52p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he'll need to shut himself down this offseason in order to enter 2015 fully healthy and in great shape. He [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 26 12:33p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon tested positive for alcohol, according to sources, and his failed test will subject him to a possible one-year suspension. Gordon caught 24 passes for [ More ]

Vontaze BurfictJan 26 12:23p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (knee) is recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee, and the surgeon who operated on him is hoping that he will be at [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 11:22a

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he played this season with two tears in his right hamstring, which never fully healed.

Josh GordonJan 25 09:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will be under contract through the 2016 season, and he will only be a restricted free agent after that year due to his looming [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 25 04:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon has reportedly failed another drug test and will be subject to a one-year banishment, according to multiple league sources.

Earl ThomasJan 23 09:02p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) will play in the Super Bowl, head coach Pete Carroll said Friday, Jan. 23.

Dennis PittaJan 23 04:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) met with some specialists last week, but the team is not expected to have an update on his status for a few weeks, [ More ]

Johnny ManzielJan 23 01:12p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel had a big proponent last year in owner Jimmy Haslam, but Haslam now thinks the team needs a quarterback in order to get their [ More ]

Jimmy GrahamJan 23 10:32a

New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder) said he'll rehabilitate his shoulder injury after the Pro Bowl, but he hasn't made a final decision on surgery. 'It's something we [ More ]

Mark IngramJan 22 06:42p

New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram, who will be eligible for free agency this offseason, wants to return to the team next year, and he thinks the interest is [ More ]

Vernon DavisJan 22 06:22p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis had just two touchdowns in 2014, and they both came in Week 1. He also wasn't targeted at all in the red zone [ More ]

Geno SmithJan 22 05:32p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith has a lot of talent and promise, according to new head coach Todd Bowles. At the same time, Bowles acknowledged that the quarterback [ More ]

Brian HoyerJan 22 04:52p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer could be re-signed this offseason, according to his agent. Hoyer is expected to meet with general manager Ray Farmer and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in the near future.

Johnny ManzielJan 22 02:43p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel will be working with a new offensive coordinator this year in John DeFilippo, but DeFilippo is unsure if the team's quarterback next year is [ More ]

Joe FlaccoJan 22 12:52p

Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco will have his fourth difference offensive coordinator in as many years in offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. However, head coach John Harbaugh is confident Flacco [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group