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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Dec 3, 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.

 

How long will the Vikings give Christian Ponder to show improvement? The end of this season, or next season?  If anything, he has regressed as this season has gone on, and I don't see how long they can hang on to that position being a weak link. A better receiver would help, but Ponder has to shoulder some of the blame here.
-- Brian
Sturgis, SD

There’s no way around the fact that the Vikings need better play from the quarterback position. No one, from Head Coach Leslie Frazier to Ponder himself, will hide from that fact. Criticism of and impatience for Ponder is increasing among the fan base, but the team’s long-term outlook on Ponder remains the same. I’ve written many times in the Monday Morning Mailbag this year that we have to live with the mistakes Ponder is making because he’s the hand-selected franchise quarterback. Granted, seeing the same mistakes time and again causes the frustration to intensify and the impatience to grow. But I’m willing to be patient with Ponder and give him more time to get it right. I also still contend that the Vikings can play better around Ponder, specifically at the receiver position.

I understand if fans don’t have that same patience. After all, we haven’t seen much from Ponder in recent weeks to suggest my confidence in him and the Vikings process of developing him is well-placed. But being in this position for eight seasons, my sense is that the book on Ponder has not been written. We are several chapters into it and there are doubts, but this story is not over and there is more to discover.

I'm not saying Joe Webb is the answer, but Ponder just isn't giving the Vikings a chance to win. So why not try something new? The Jets finally broke down and benched their starter. Why not the Vikings, too?
-- Mike H.
Austin, MN

Obviously, the aftermath of the Vikings loss to Green Bay is going to feature almost exclusively criticism of Ponder. It’s understandable, but it’s also unfortunate because Adrian Peterson dazzled us all once again by rushing for 201 yards. Regardless, the main talker coming out of this week for Vikings fans will be Ponder. And I think there are two parts to the discussion.

The first is the global, long-term outlook on Ponder, which was just discussed in the previous question. The team is developing Ponder and I think they should stick to the plan and keep building this offense around him. The second is the short-term look at the situation. I’m not on the side that says Ponder will never be a good quarterback for the Vikings. But I can hear the argument that perhaps Webb could’ve entered the game on Sunday and given the Vikings a chance to win the game.

Frazier was asked if he thought about pulling Ponder during the game, and he said the idea didn’t cross his mind because the game was so close and he thought changing quarterbacks mid-stream was not in the best interests of the team. That is a completely reasonable response, and it’s Frazier’s decision to make. I’m glad he had a conviction and stuck with it – that’s what you want your head coach to do. But I do think there’s a case to be made for pulling a starting quarterback in the middle of the game when it’s apparent that it just isn’t his day. That’s what the Jets did with Mark Sanchez on Sunday, and they won the game. I’m sensitive to the fact that you don’t want to mess with a young quarterbacks psyche by pulling him every time he encounters adversity, but I also believe it’s incumbent on a player to accept the fact that sometimes it’s not his day and another option is a better option, even if only for one game or one half.

Again, I’m not saying the right move was or was not to pull Ponder. That’s a decision that is made by people who know more about the game and the team than me. But I will listen to the argument that sometimes it’s better to give the backup a chance to salvage a win.

Sunday’s loss was heart-breaking, especially because it was against a rival during a time where a win meant a possible playoff spot. With the Chicago loss to Seattle and the Buccaneers loss to Denver, what does this mean for the Vikings?  Are we still a close wild card option?
-- Sheema
Burnsville, MN

The loss to Green Bay dropped the Vikings to 6-6, which puts two games behind both the Bears and Packers in the NFC North. In the Wild Card race, the Vikings 6-6 record puts them one game behind Seattle and matches that of Dallas and Tampa Bay. The Vikings lose the tie-breaker right now to Tampa Bay because they lost that head-to-head matchup, and they lose the tie-breaker to Dallas because the Cowboys have a better winning percentage within the conference.

At the moment, making the playoffs looks to be an uphill climb for the Vikings. But there is a lot of football yet to be played with four games still on the schedule, including two against division opponents. And we all know that a lot can change in a week. A win by the Vikings next week against the Bears can shake up the playoff picture in the NFC.

We've got serious receiver issues. Is there any situation in which we don't draft a receiver first round this year?
-- Connor
Richmond, VA

While it’s likely the Vikings will identify wide receiver as a position that needs to be addressed this offseason, it’s far from a guarantee that the Vikings will use a first-round pick on a wide receiver. It’s possible, yes, but it’s not certain. Predetermining what position you’re going to address with a first-round pick is the first step to reaching on a player. I’d rather see the Vikings take the best player available with their first-round pick. That strategy is more likely to result in a quality football player joining the roster, and the Vikings need more quality football players if they want to continue progressing as a team.

We need a deep threat ASAP. I guess I'm a desperate fan, but what is the possibility of the Vikings being interested in Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, or T.J. Houshmandzadeh?
-- AJ C.
Greenville, PA

I haven’t watched film of those guys or worked any of them out lately, so my opinion is less scientific and more based on a gut feeling. But I’m guessing they would help very little. Those guys have been available for all 32 teams to sign all season, and no one is giving them so much as a sniff. I agree the Vikings need increased production from the wide receiver position, but I don't think those guys are the answer. If they were, they would be on a team.

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