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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Nov 5, 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.

 

This was a very tough loss to watch. Should we start to be concerned about Christian Ponder? I know it is a tough place to play (in Seattle), but it is still very concerning to me that he has struggled for three weeks in a row in the passing game. I am not giving up on Ponder, but at some point our passing game has to back up Adrian Peterson. Maybe receivers just are not getting open, but I feel like some of this has to be on Ponder.
-- Thomas W.
Richmond, VA

Thomas is correct that some of the blame for the Vikings punch-less passing attack is on Ponder, but I’m sure Ponder’s teammates would step up and say that they’d like to play better around their quarterback. As we discussed in last week’s Mailbag, football is the ultimate team sport. You win as a team, and lose as a team.

It’s fair to be concerned about Ponder. What we’ve seen the past three weeks from Ponder and Co. through the air is just not an acceptable level of performance, and the Vikings will be the first to acknowledge that. But I don’t think it’s fair is to give up on Ponder, or anyone else on the roster. We’ve seen this collection of offensive players perform up to standard in the past, and it’s my belief they will return to that level of play this season. It will take work, but it will be done.

The common sentiment from fans who emailed me last night and this morning was very much that benching Ponder was the fix to this problem. I can’t agree at this point. My opinion on that has nothing to do with Joe Webb or McLeod Bethel-Thompson; I believe they players can succeed, too. But pulling Ponder is not going to help him develop as a player and it’s not going to help the passing attack get on track. Ponder has the ability to be a franchise-caliber quarterback, but the path to that status will not be without speed bumps and setbacks. The key is to overcome that adversity and come out of it a better player. I think Ponder can do that.

I’ve been hearing from many fans that Ponder needs to be benched if we want to win. And while I agree our last two losses can be blamed on Ponder, I still support him as our quarterback, and try to remember that he is still very young and has shown lots of promise. That being said, how would you feel on bringing back the Joe Webb package
-- Gabriel F.
Costa Rica

My instinct is to resist the idea because we’ve seen it in the past and it wasn’t pretty. Additionally, I don’t see how taking opportunities away from Ponder by using an alternative package of plays is going to help Ponder. But at this point, the offense does need a spark and perhaps that’s one way to do it.

It’s nice to see Adrian Peterson playing like he has this season, but it was another tough game to watch in terms of passing. I’m not as disappointed in how Christian Ponder is playing as I am with the type of pass plays that are being called. It seems like whenever a pass play is called, all the routes are three-yard outs. And whenever they do try to throw it downfield, it’s forced. The passing game needs to improve if we want to win consistently.
-- Brandan L.
Fargo, ND

I actually have a different view on this. There’s no question the Vikings are missing a vertical element to their passing game, but I think the key to unlocking that element is to master the short passing game first.

The Vikings offensive coaches have forgotten more than I’ll ever know about what it takes to put a game plan together and what it takes to get a quarterback in rhythm, so I’m a bit uncomfortable mowing their lawn on this topic. But I’d like to see the Vikings stick with their short passing attack early in the game to get Ponder and Co. in a rhythm. Even if he has four completions for just 20 yards on his first four attempts, at least the young passer can establish a rhythm and get something going. Once he hits those first four or five short throws and generates a rhythm, then the offense can start to open up with intermediate and deep passes.

It seems that most of Adrian Peterson’s runs are between the tackles. He has been successful, but why are they reluctant to have him run outside?
-- Brian P.
Sturgis, SD

Brian is right that most of Peterson’s runs are between the tackles. According to the statistical database to which I have access, the Vikings have run it between the tackles 103 times while they’ve run it to the right 59 times and the left 65 times. It’s hard to be critical of that because Peterson is the NFL’s leading rusher, so the rushing attack is going well and there’s no reason to want a change.

I wouldn’t say the Vikings are reluctant to run Peterson outside. I would say the Vikings have devised a running scheme that works and they’re going to use it until some proves they can stop Peterson.

What is going on with our passing game? I could be wrong, but I believe that this is three weeks in a row without TE Kyle Rudolph catching a pass.
-- Chris L.

This is something I hoped the Vikings would address against Seattle. Unfortunately, the offense wasn’t able to get going, and one major victim of that was Rudolph. The second-year tight end is without question one of our most talented players, so I agree with Chris that it’s time to reintegrate Rudolph into the mix. It’s probably not a coincidence that as the passing attack has been grounded, so too has Rudolph.