EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Christian Ponder was back at the Minnesota Vikings’ facilities on Wednesday, focused on changing a recent trend of poor performances from the team’s passing offense.
Ponder believes a weekend break has allowed the team, and himself, to get back to the fundamentals that made Minnesota one of the top teams in the NFL the first five weeks of the season. Everyone with the Vikings knows a bounce-back effort from Ponder will be needed Sunday against Seattle’s fifth-ranked defense.
“Against a team that’s playing so good on defense, we’ve got to do a good job of managing opportunities,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “And then when we have an opportunity, take advantage of it. (Ponder will) be the impetus in getting that done at the quarterback position. So, when we have opportunities on the road, this Sunday, his being able to lead us and helping us to capitalize on those opportunities.”
Article continues below ...
Ponder ranks 15th in the NFL with an 85.8 quarterback rating. His completion rate of 65.3 percent is ninth in the league. He has 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions, but the biggest issue for the Vikings’ offense is his average of 6.65 yards per attempt, which ranks 25th in the league as the passing game has stumbled in recent weeks and is now ranked 27th in the NFL.
Five questions and answers from Ponder’s weekly press conference with members of the Minnesota media:
1. When you look back at the Tampa Bay game, the first three series of three-and-outs, were you able to pick up any trends or diagnose exactly why?
PONDER: It goes back to execution. In the passing game, obviously you’ve got to win on our stuff. It wasn’t really anything they did. It goes back to what we did, which is a good sign. Everything’s fixable, so we’ve just got to fix it. For us to go into a place like Seattle, it’s going to be important to start early and start fast. A couple of three-and-outs at the beginning of the game isn’t going to be good. I think every game that Seattle’s played in they’ve been the first team to score. So it’s going to be important for us to get out and get to a good start.
2. How tough is it to sync up the timing against Seattle’s defensive backs and how physical they get?
PONDER: It’s going to be tough. Obviously, they are a big, physical secondary. So, there going to try and reroute us and jam us at the line. So, our receivers are always going to do a good job of getting off of that and finding ways to get open. Good thing is we have guys like Jerome (Simpson) and Percy (Harvin), who are fast. If they do get past the press, they’re gone and that’s where we’re going to look for big plays and take advantage of that.
3. The throw you made with 25 seconds left in the first half the other day, you had Percy open along the sideline and you tried to go to Jerome on the crossing route. Are you pressing on some level to try and make things happen in the intermediate to deep passing game at this point?
PONDER: I don’t think I’m pressing. That was a dumb throw. I think I had Jerome a little earlier than I anticipated and then waited too long to throw the ball. That was probably the worst throw I had all game. Should have been patient. Obviously, with 25 seconds left, we want to get points on the board. I should have just dumped it down to Percy and not taken that risk. I don’t think I’m trying to press things. Again, when we were clicking, we were throwing the shorter routes and letting our offense and our receivers pick up yards after the catch. So, I think that works and we need to keep doing it.
4. When teams are blitzing to stop Adrian (Peterson) like (coach Leslie Frazier) is talking about, how does that affect you when you see that?
PONDER: Ultimately it comes back to me, and I’ve got to get the ball out of my hands. I think teams have had success bringing pressure, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle does it or we see it the rest of the year. We just have to take advantage of when they do bring pressure that we do make them pay for it. When they bring pressure, that opens up more holes in the passing game and I’ve just got to do a better job of recognizing it and getting the ball out of my hands and finding that spot where they’re most vulnerable.
5. Best costume you saw (at the team’s Halloween party)?
PONDER: The best one I saw, there was a Shrek out there. We’re not going to name names, but there was a Shrek. There was a couple of ballerinas out there, which was very interesting…But, no, we had a fun time.