Let's Ponder What We Will See at Metrodome on SundayPosted:Oct 18th, 2011 8:16 pm
Leslie Frazier confirmed the worst kept secret in Minnesota on Tuesday by naming rookie QB Christian Ponder the team's new starter, beginning Sunday at the Metrodome against the Pack.
There are dozens of reasons this was his only choice and space prohibits me running through them all. But at 1-5 in a division with the Packers and Lions, the Vikings are going nowhere this season. They gain nothing by trotting out the ineffective Donovan McNabb week after week.
Now they will get ten games to see what they have in Ponder. He will gain valuable experience and the franchise will begin the process of starting over with a young signal caller. We got a glimpse on Sunday night when he took over in garbage time: showing nimble feet, a semblance of pocket presence and a couple of floaters for deep balls.
Another main reason they had to do this now: it could have gotten ugly on Sunday, with half the crowd jammed with Packer fans and the other half disgruntled Vikings fans, desperate to kick McNabb to the curb and anxious to see the rookie. Now, purple nation will be solidly behind Ponder and will be energized to play the part of David in this David and Goliath matchup.
So what will Ponder mean to the Vikings offense this week? Well, first let's see whether center John Sullivan and RT Phil Loadhold can play. If the Vikes start to look down the depth chart on the offensive line it will alter the game plan that Bill Musgrave devises.
Expect a healthy dose of Adrian Peterson and quick slants and short passes designed to keep the heat off Ponder and the offensive line. The Pack will stack the line with eight or nine guys and put Woodson and Williams in 1 on 1 situations. This might not be a bad game for Sam Shields to miss (concussion process ongoing this week), especially with the bye the following week. The Pack will likely play very little nickel against the Vikings offense, which will feature two tight end sets. Shiancoe and Rudolph will likely be popular targets on third down.
We all remember the last time the Packers faced a rookie QB making his first career start. Many of you were with me at Arizona's in Shakopee watching Josh Freeman's winning debut as he and the Bucs stunned the Pack in 2009. Mike McCarthy and his staff used that game last week to remind the team not to look past the Rams. Might as well queue it up again this week.
No matter what happens, there will be a buzz at Mall of America Field Sunday afternoon. And if it goes the way we expect, many Vikings fans will leave the Dome pondering what the Raiders might trade them for their rookie QB.