Ponder: Most important stat is turnovers

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Christian Ponder has had to deal with a lot in his 21 games as the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback. Sunday, it was an unusual rash of drops by his receivers.

Ponder went 22 of 43 for 159 yards, one touchdown and one interception in Sunday’s 28-10 loss to the Chicago Bears. Minnesota receivers dropped seven passes. Playing for the second game without leading receiver Percy Harvin hurt, and the Vikings missed a big opportunity against NFC-North leading Chicago.

Meanwhile, Ponder slipped to 24th in the league in quarterback rating with an 82.0 rating in 11 games this season. He ranks 12th in the NFL in completion rate at 63.5 percent, and has passed for 2,186 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Five questions Ponder dealt with from the media during his weekly Wednesday press conference:

1. Is this one of the harder weeks to pivot (from last week’s game) quickly?

PONDER: No, I don’t think so. I think obviously it’s against one of the better opponents we’re going to play all year, but it’s our rival. I think everyone’s excited, and I think it’s a lot easier to focus this week than it has been any other week. Obviously, we know how good of an opponent it is and what this game means.

2. I think we tend to paint with a broad brush about focus, and it’s sort of an all-encompassing term. In a game like in Chicago, where you do have turnovers, you have dropped passes, is that a legitimate thing that’s an issue?

PONDER: I don’t know. Obviously, when you try to pinpoint those mistakes, I guess you can always pinpoint it as focus and the lack thereof. Obviously that needs to change going into this game.

3. With emphasis you put on turnovers last week and it didn’t translate on game day, how much more can you put on it this week?

PONDER: Obviously, it’s very important in every game, especially when you’re on the road. You never want to give the home team that much momentum, and we kept doing that last week. Obviously, we’ve got to keep the ball in our hands and convert on third downs and keep the ball in our hands and keep our defense off the field. So, they’re not on the field the whole time. We kept going three-and-out or handling them the ball, you put your defense in a tough spot. Obviously, we want to limit those turnovers. That’s one of the highest correlations, when you turn the ball over, to losing games.

4. How deflating is it as an offense when you guys are dealing with drops like you did on Sunday?

PONDER: It’s not deflating. Obviously we want to make the plays that we’re supposed to make on the field, but we have full confidence in what we’re doing and I have full confidence in those guys. We’re going to be fine. I think it goes back to, it has nothing to do with ability, it’s just certain things we’ve got to work on and get better at and we’ll be fine. Watching that film against Chicago, obviously they’re a great team, but a lot of those mistakes come down to what we were doing and they’re all fixable.

5. What statistics are most important to you?

PONDER: Statistics? No. 1 are turnovers. Obviously those impact the game the most. Other than that, I think the thing that we talked about earlier in the year was efficiency on first down, and that’s something I’ve kind of swayed away from and something I’ve got to improve. But other than that, that’s what a quarterback needs to do, is efficiently spread the ball around and not turn the ball over.

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