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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Dec 31, 2012

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the vikings.com Mailbag! Every Monday during the season we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag feature. Although we can’t post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

To submit a comment or question to the mailbag, send an email to Mike Wobschall at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. Remember to include your name and town on the email.

 

Considering the circumstance of the game, do you think you think this was the best performance of Christian Ponder's career?
-- Derek S.
New York

In looking at just the numbers, it certainly ranks as a top three performance for Ponder. He’s thrown for more yards on seven occasions, but he’s never had a higher single-game passer rating (120.2) than he had Sunday and the performance against Green Bay is the second time he’s had three-plus touchdown passes in the game. Also, Ponder was great in key moments, hitting Jarius Wright on a 65-yard bomb early in the 4th quarter to set up an eventual touchdown toss to Michael and then finding Jenkins for 25 yards on a crucial 3rd-and-11 play in the 4th quarter that led to the game-winning field goal by Blair Walsh five plays later.

When you consider the circumstances, though, there’s no question that Sunday’s win over Green Bay was the best performance of Ponder’s career. Given what transpired before the Vikings even kicked off, with both Chicago and the NY Giants winning, the Vikings were in a true win-and-in scenario, where there was no way for them to qualify for the postseason with a loss. Ponder delivered in the biggest moment of the season, and in the biggest moment of his career.

This game will go down as one game in his entire body of work as the Vikings evaluate him going into the offseason. But the quarterback position, more than any other, is evaluated with careful consideration to “clutch moments,” and Sunday’s game against Green Bay represented as clutch a moment as Ponder has seen in his career. Ponder played his best game in the biggest moment.

Great team win vs. Green Bay. I know I have been hard on Ponder this season, but he stepped up big, and he is one of the major reasons for the victory. Also, congratulations to the hopeful MVP, Adrian Peterson, for the second-best all-time rushing season.
-- Alex B.
Phoenix, AZ

Whatever one’s opinion is of Ponder in terms of a long-term option at the position, there’s no denying that he grew up quite a bit on Sunday. Will it propel him to a solid postseason and a solid career? Will it be a flash in the pan, and more of an aberration than a trend? We don’t know those answers. But given how well Ponder played early in the season while guiding the Vikings to a 5-2 record and given how Ponder has played increasingly well over the final four games of the season while leading the Vikings to a 4-0 record without his best receiver (Percy Harvin), I see no reason to not have optimism about Ponder’s ability to be this team’s quarterback of the future.

Yes, he’s had his moments of adversity during two seasons with the Vikings, but he’s also had great moments. Sunday’s was the latest and the greatest yet, and it came with everything on the line.

Do you think Adrian Peterson can still get the MVP even though he didn't quite get the single-season rushing record?
-- Brandon
Mora, MN

You have to try very hard to come up with an argument for someone else winning the MVP award over Adrian Peterson. Seriously. If Peterson doesn’t win the MVP this year, when will a non-quarterback ever win the award? Peterson has been the definition of valuable for the Vikings this season. Are there other deserving candidates? Most certainly, with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning being among them. But those guys are playing on teams that made the playoffs a season ago. Peterson just rushed for 2,000 yards less than a year removed from a devastating knee injury and he’s led a 3-13 team to a 10-6 record and a postseason berth. Honestly, what else can a guy do to win the MVP award? I’m not sure if he’ll win it or not, but I will be thoroughly disgusted and disappointed if Peterson is not chosen as the MVP for what he’s done in 2012.

Christian Ponder was pretty impressive. The downfield pass to Jarius Wright was as impressive as anything Rodgers was tossing out. There just needs to be more of them. I'm a little concerned about Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave’s inability to adjust to teams bottling up Adrian Peterson. He just continues to punch Peterson up the middle, hoping for a break instead of changing the plays. Finally, in your expert opinion, with the Vikings issues with Green Bay’s passing game can they adjust enough to take out Green Bay in their house? GO VIKINGS!
-- Brian
South Dakota

Bottling up Peterson? When did that happen? Peterson carried the ball 34 times for 199 yards with one touchdown. He averaged 6.0 yards per carry for the season and 5.9 yards per carry against Green Bay on Sunday. How can you blame Musgrave for running the ball 37 times? I understand the principal of Brian’s question – that an NFL offense should be balanced. But that’s exactly what the Vikings were on Sunday. They were balanced, with 217 net yards rushing and 227 net yards passing. The Vikings had 13 first downs passing the ball and 10 first downs rushing the ball. They won the time of possession battle 31:55 to 28:05. I’m not sure how much better Musgrave could’ve called the game. The early screen pass to running back Toby Gerhart was perfectly timed, the 65-yard bomb to Wright came on the first play of a series, the 25-yard completion to Jenkins on 3rd-and-11 was the perfect play call against that coverage, and the playcalling and clock management at the end of the game was perfect.

As for Brian’s second question about making adjustments to contain Green Bay’s passing game, I think that’s perhaps the top subplot of the game for the Vikings. Rodgers and the Packers passing attack is elite and they’re going to rack up yards and points against anyone, but the Vikings must find a way to limit the long plays. It will be hard to win in Green Bay if the Vikings give up 34 points as they did on Sunday at Mall of America Field.

What’s the status of CB Antoine Winfield and his injured hand? Will he play in Green Bay?
-- Darnell T
Pomona, CA

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier was not very specific about Winfield’s chances of playing this weekend. Given that Winfield tried to play through the injury this week, my guess is he’ll try once again to play through the injury next weekend in Green Bay. This will be a day-to-day situation.

Congratulations to Adrian Peterson on 2,000 yards rushing, the second-best single-season rushing mark in NFL history. And rushing for 6.0 yards per carry? Wow, just wow. SO glad he’s on our side. He’s been my favorite player since the 2007 NFL Draft. We really need to, as fans, take a step back and say “Okay, he didn't get the record, but man is he special.” I know next year with a bigger work load he’ll get the record, and I know he feels the same way. Make sure you give him all our love and praise from the fan base, and thank him for being everything we could possibly ask for and more, and being a wonderful role model and amazing human being off the field, and an inspirational story that no matter what happens, or how injured you get, you can always come back better than before. Nothing is too serious to ever keep us down.
-- Anthony
Connecticut

Well said, Anthony.

I wish no one harm or injury, but it sure seems to me like the offense has started playing a bit better since Percy Harvin has been out.  We did have a little sputter in Green Bay, but for the most part we've started to see more of the other receivers and we've used our tight ends.  We still have a ways to go, but I think our offense is starting to pick up.  Thoughts?
-- Al F.

Harvin is an elite offensive weapon with a unique skill set. Any team would become more dynamic with Harvin on the field, and that include the Vikings. With that being said, Al might be on to something here because the Vikings offense has without question been improving on a weekly basis since Harvin has been unavailable. With Harvin out of the lineup, the Vikings have been forced to use other receivers on the roster, and those receivers have answered the bell. Jerome Simpson had a few clutch receptions on Sunday and has 11 receptions over the last three games, Jenkins had a touchdown and a huge third-down reception on Sunday, Wright has come on strongly and tight end Kyle Rudolph has been reliable and productive all season.

Now that we're in the postseason can Percy Harvin come back?
-- Derek D.

No, Harvin has been placed on the Reserve/Injured list and is therefore unavailable to the Vikings for the remainder of the season.

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