It’s not even the regular season and the Christian Ponder bashing has already begun. With training camp coming to an end, Ponder still remains the Vikings starting quarterback but not in the hearts of all Minnesota fans. His first two preseason games were nothing to show for as Ponder is a combined 6 for 13 for 68 yards and an interception. The Vikings staff made a clear effort to improve the depleted receiving core to give Ponder no excuses when under center. Ponder has one of the better offensive line units in the NFC, a well improved receiving staff, and the most dominant player in the backfield, so what’s missing?
Although Ponder has Peterson, he hasn’t seen him on the field once this preseason. Backup Toby Gerhart has gotten both starts and with no disrespect to the Stanford graduate, Peterson puts opposing defenses into submission. When the Vikings won out their last four games of the 2012 regular season, Peterson went on a tear rushing for 651 yards and 4 touchdowns. During that same stretch of games Ponder put his foot on the pedal as well. His completion percentage was up to 61% and had an average QBR of 73.8.
“We’re gonna get him (Peterson) in the ball game Sunday night,” Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said. “We want to be a balanced offense, but anyone that follows us knows that our offense is gonna be run through number 28. Part of what would help our passing game be improved is having Adrian at full strength and having another super year.”
This sluggish start to Ponder’s preseason could all be put in the past if Ponder can succeed in the Vikings third preseason game with Peterson in the backfield. It will be a great test for Ponder and will prove how the regular season could turn out. When Peterson is on the field 7 to 8 of the 11 defenders will always have their eyes on Adrian, giving Ponder more space to be able to work with. The play-action pass should prove to be huge for Ponder.
“Without Adrian Peterson in our scheme, it impacts our offense tremendously because he is the focal point. Every team that we play, they better have a plan for Adrian Peterson when we line up.”
Not even coach Frazier isn’t afraid to admit that Adrian is the center of the Vikings offense. The coaching staff isn’t asking Ponder to take over the offense but to find his place in Peterson’s offense. If Peterson can dominate the game as he did last year, there is only improvement for Ponder down the stretch.