Holler: Ponder's routine should secure change

Christian Ponder (Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY)

Christian Ponder's inconsistency was encapsulated against the Seahawks: promising first half, brutal second half. By now, the Vikings should have seen enough to know what they have in Ponder and make a change to evaluate the next possibility.

What Vikings fans saw Sunday from quarterback Christian Ponder is nothing unusual. His three-year NFL career has been defined more by his failures than his achievements and Sunday was no exception. The difference this time is that it just might be his last disappointing game as the Vikings' starting quarterback.

Head coach Leslie Frazier said team officials will talk about a quarterback change Monday, but Ponder continued with some of the trends that have made him a human piñata among Vikings fans. He completed 13 of 22 passes to his offensive teammates and two passes to Seattle defenders, one that was brought back for a touchdown. On his first dropback of the game, he was hit from behind and fumbled, leading to the game's first three points. His three turnovers accounted for 17 Seattle points and turned a close game into a blowout.

This hasn't been anything unusual for Ponder this season. He has at least one interception in seven of the eight games he has played, and almost invariably his turnovers directly lead to points.

What made Sunday's game so painful for Ponder apologists is that, aside from the blindside fumble in the first quarter, he was having a decent game. At halftime, he had completed nine of 13 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown – giving him a passer rating of 122.0.

In the second half, before being pulled out of the game, he completed just four of nine passes for 15 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. After building up an impressive statistical day in the first half, his second half collapse had him finish the game with a passer rating of just 53.0 – his worst single-game passer rating since an embarrassing loss Dec. 2, 2012 at Green Bay.

Ponder was replaced by Matt Cassel, but he fared little better, even though the Seahawks called off the dogs in the fourth quarter. He completed just 5 of 13 passes for 78 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a passer rating of 52.7.

Wilson was proof once again this season how vital playmaking quarterbacks who make good reads and decisions can be to a franchise. He has Seattle off to the best start in franchise history and appears locked to be the franchise QB for the rest of the decade in Seattle.

With the Vikings heading into Green Bay, it might be time to see what Josh Freeman can do. His debut against the Giants was an unqualified failure, but he's been learning the system for the last month and should at least be close to ready from that standpoint. Any chance Cassel might have had to make a claim for the starting job slipped through his fingers with his lackluster performance in relief of Ponder.

Whether the Vikings opt to make another change at quarterback this week or not, one thing would appear to be clear – many observers, fans and perhaps even teammates and the coaching staff have seen enough of Ponder.

It would appear that it's time for a change and sticking with Freeman so the team can evaluate what it has heading down the stretch. At 2-8, they don't have much more to lose – other than enough games to garner a draft pick high enough to land their next QB of the future.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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