Vikings Support Christian Ponder, but Coach Says He Must “Suck it Up”

Christian Ponder

(from USA Today, September 24, 2013)

With the Minnesota Vikings team record at 0-3, the fans are looking for someone to blame. That blame is going on the Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. Although the coach, Craig Johnson, does not think fans should be loudly calling for a change, he also states that Ponder should suck it up. Johnson states, “The bottom line is – and he knows this – if you do not win the game, you’re getting the blame. That’s just the way it is. When you lose, you’re getting the blame. That’s the deal.” Ponder currently is ranked 21st in the NFL in passing yards, 22nd in completion percentage, and 30th in passer rating. He only has two touchdown passes but has five interceptions. Even though Ponder ran in two touchdowns and played better the second half of their home opener against the Cleveland Browns, Ponder still heard the boos and chants for the backup quarterback Matt Cassel. Ponder was drafted 12th overall out of Florida State in 2011; he has been through this before. Last season he was booed multiple occasions at the Metrodome. As a rookie, he improved in almost every statistical category over his 11 games, but he did go through a mid-season slump. Last year when the quarterback was struggling, running back and reigning MVP Adrian Peterson said he had Ponder’s back after the loss to Cleveland. Ponder was able to come back from his slump last season, and Johnson believes he can do it again. He played some of the best football of his career last season after his slump. Johnson states, “He’s got to improve consistency all the time. He’s put together some good plays, some not so good plays. The biggest thing that I told him and any quarterback is make sure we protect the ball better. We do that, we’ll be good.”