A good while back I talked about Christian Ponder and his effect on the Viking's 2011 team. I think many fans unfairly judge Ponder, and fail to realize what weapons and the trainwreck that Ponder was given. I see all over the message boards about how the Vikings have no chance to be competitive with Ponder at the helm, and that he's buried beneath the great QBs that are in the NFC North. I will go on record to predict right now that Ponder will be the most underrated QB in the NFL in a few years just because of this reason. I also look around and see all sorts of praise for another young QB named Andy Dalton. Some even argued he could of been Offensive Rookie of the Year, an absurd claim in my opinion. I take a look at Dalton and see nothing that jumps out for me last year, he took a team that had the making of a good team all ready. The biggest being his WR named AJ Green. Also helps he had an above average/great defense.
"Of course I have a soul. What kind of silly question is that?" -Andy Dalton
For Comparison's Sake
How in the world does this compare to Ponder though? Pretty simple, Ponder was given one of the least talented teams in football, midway through the season might I add, and was expected to uplift it and make the situation good. I honestly can't think of many QBs that can do this, let alone a rookie. Especially when you got no first team reps until it was too late. Ponder had one of the worst defenses of all time, no joke, and the worst offensive line in the league. Outside of Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson he had no help on offense. But considering Percy sat out half the plays, and Peterson was battling injury all year that ended with a torn MCL/ACL, the weapons Ponder had weren't anything. When Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu are your top targets we have a problem here. For comparisons sake, here's Dalton vs Ponder for stats.
300 completions on 518 attempts, for a 58.1% completion rate
6.6 yards/per attempt
20 TDs - 13 INTs
37 rushing attempts for 152 yards, 4.1 yards/per attempt for 9 first downs
158 completions on 291 attempts, for a 54.3% completion rate
6.37 yards/per attempt
13 TDs - 13 INTs
28 rushing attempts for 219 yards, 7.8 yards/per attempt for 13 first downs
Pretty similar right? But it also isn't fair to say Ponder played a full 11 games, he only play a full 8. He got benched vs Detriot, and got injured vs Washington and Chicago. But let's say Ponder played a full season, here's around what his stats would probably look like:
Ponder Speculative Stats:
320 completions on 580 attempts, for a 55.17% completion rate
6.4 yards/per attempt
23 TDs - 20 INTs
55 rushing attempts for 429 yards, 7.8 yards/per attempt for 20 first downs
Not bad at all right? Consider this with the shitty team we had last year. Really the only downside is his decision making, which is something that we as Viking fans hope he learns how to read more with time. The reason for those INTs is because he telegraphs some throws and doesn't go through all his reads. Something that he can be taught, and he has already even said that he's learned from watching tape. Encouraging.
Ponder, please just don't throw interceptions in a Championship Game
Keep in mind this with Dalton, he had a great receiver named AJ Green who is already a top 10 WR in this league. I've watched AJ bail out Dalton. Guess who Ponder had to bail him out? Harvin? Yeah whenever he was on the field, sure. Even then we didn't actually use him correctly. When we did use him correctly; guess who got a big play? Exactly. I think it's actually kind of depressing Dalton has such a low yds/attempt with not one great deep threat, but two with Jerome Simpson whose now expected to fill that role on the Vikings. Our biggest deep threat was Devin Aromoshodu, statwise. I'm sure defenses were shivering in their boots.
We'll upset the Packers next year. Just you watch.
Ok, so who cares how Ponder matches up with his rookie friend Andy Dalton? Hell there are even better comparisons out there. Just take a look at Tampa Bay QB Josh Freemen and see how eerily similar their stats are, or check out how terrible Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford were. They are 'ight now.
But what just Ponder? What did he accomplish that was so great? Well first off his was #1 in Red-Zone efficiency. His QB rating was 114.0. Or how about his great third down presence? Ponder moved us from one of the worst to #16 in that ranking. Not easy considering how horrendous McNabb was on third down. Especially in the 4th quarter, McNabb was a terrible 4 for 16. No wonder we lost all those huge first half leads.
"The ball has to go past that orange thing? Never would of guessed" -Donovan McNabb
Remember this show?!
Ponder has a lot to learn, but what he showed us last year was something all Viking fans should be excited about. Yes, he burnt out by the end of the year and Joe Webb came and in put a fire under the offense. Yes, he got injured behind our pathetic o-line and just never looked the same after that. But what Ponder showed before all the shit hit the fan was something I was amazed by, something I've never seen as a Viking fan; a young QB uplifting the team and look promising. I'm excited to see what Ponder can do next year and you should too. He's a smart guy, and I have every bit of confidence that he'll prove a lot of people wrong.
Watch my highlight video!!