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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Dec 10, 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.

 

With so much talk about our passing game improving, it seems like nothing changed this week either. What do you think the Vikings can do to improve it before the St Louis game?
-- David G.
El Paso, Texas

The sub 100-yard passing outings are hard for fans to stomach given the fact that Christian Ponder was the 12th overall pick and is being groomed to be a franchise quarterback. I understand the frustration fans feel in that regard, and I’m hopeful that in time the passing game will take significant steps forward. But if you can refrain from analyzing Ponder through that lens and instead focus on what Ponder and the Vikings need to do to win games this season, I agree with Head Coach Leslie Frazier that against the Bears on Sunday Ponder did exactly what the team needs him to do.

There were several moments where the Vikings needed a big-spot completion from Ponder, and they got it. Two that come to mind immediately are 3rd-down throws. On the opening drive of the game, the Vikings faced a 3rd and 9 from the Chicago 28. Ponder fit a throw to Michael Jenkins between linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Kelvin Hayden for an 11-yard gain. Then, in the 4th quarter as the Vikings were trying to chew up some clock with a 14-point lead, Ponder rifled a quick slant into Jenkins on 3rd and 6 from near midfield following a timeout.

Those are the type of big-spot throws the Vikings need Ponder to make. And given the way Adrian Peterson is running the ball and both the defense and special teams are playing, if Ponder can make the majority of those five-to-six big-spot throws per game, the Vikings can be a very successful team going forward.

Good win for the Vikings to stay in the playoff picture. Credit to the defense and Adrian Peterson for playing a great game. My concern is about Christian Ponder and the passing game. It seems like guys can get open, but he's not passing the ball. His deep ball is also looking weak. What are your thoughts about his ability to make passes?
-- Shane K.
Duluth, MN

I don’t have any doubt that Ponder can make all the throws necessary. Where I think it’s still a work in progress is his timing and some of the pre-play and post-play decision making. The throw Ponder made deep down the middle of the field to Jarius Wright on Sunday is a good example of what I’m talking about. That pass was underthrown, as Wright had a few steps on the defenders but was forced to slow down in order to make a play on the ball. Had Ponder thrown that pass the same distance but just a bit sooner, the pass would’ve been on time and Wright would’ve caught it as he was gaining separation. The same throw that appeared to be underthrown would actually have been perfectly thrown had Ponder just been on time with the pass.

Do you believe Adrian Peterson is the most talented running back of all-time? I certainly do.
Justin F.
Charlottesville, VA

I’m probably not qualified to answer that question because I wasn’t around to watch some of the greats play. As great as Peterson has been during his career, there are some who will argue that Jim Brown or Walter Payton were greater. And then there are others who would say that Peterson has indeed matched or even surpassed those historic names.

Peterson doesn’t yet have the numbers to say he’s the greatest. He doesn’t have the longevity, either. And he hasn’t led his team to a Super Bowl, yet. So from that standpoint, there’s more work to be done for Peterson.

But all things considered – physical ability, production, toughness, etc. – I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a running back in NFL history that possessed a better all-around combination of traits.

What do you think the chances are that Harrison Smith could win the Defensive Rookie of the Year? He's fifth among rookies in tackles. He also has a couple of interceptions returned for touchdowns, not to mention how he has transformed our secondary. While fellow rookies like Luke Kuechly and Lavonte David are having great seasons, Smith's presence seems to far more valuable to the Vikings defense. The same can be said about Matt Kalil on the offense. Although the Offensive Rookie of the Year will most likely go to Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, I think he should at least be considered based on holding down one of the toughest positions in football.
-- Josh
Eagan

I’m not sure what the chances are of either winning their respective rookie of the year awards, but there’s no doubt that both have made a profound impact on the Vikings this season. Both Kalil and Smith have been reliable and productive starters for the Vikings from Day 1 of the regular season. I agree with Josh that the offensive rookie of the year will almost certainly go to one of those two quarterbacks, but maybe Smith has a beat on defensive rookie of the year honors given his most recent interception returned f or touchdown. I’m sure there are several defensive rookies who are having seasons worthy of praise, but none more so than Smith in my opinion.

Do you see Sunday's game against St. Louis as an opportunity for Christian Ponder to gain more confidence in passing, as the Rams compared to the Bears do not have anywhere near as strong of a defense?
-- Mathew D.

Every week is an opportunity for Ponder to progress as an NFL player, but I would not single out the Rams as a weak opponent whom the Vikings can cushion their stats against. Under first-year head coach Jeff Fisher, the Rams have made drastic improvements, especially on defense. They currently rank 12th in total defense and 12th in passing yards allowed per game. They aggressively addressed personnel issues in their secondary over the previous offseason, signing free agent cornerback Cortland Finnegan and then drafting a pair of CBs in Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. They also have some talent in their front seven with players like defensive end Chris Long and middle linebacker James Laurinaitis.

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