Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Christian Ponder no surprise as '13 starter
By Kevin Seifert
You may have seen the news that the Minnesota Vikings plan to enter into negotiations that would extend the contract of coach Leslie Frazier. That should come as no surprise given our discussions over the past month. On the other hand, from what I can tell, some of you weren't expecting confirmation of another much-discussed issue surrounding the franchise.
Asked during his year-end news conference whether he would commit to quarterback Christian Ponder for next season, coach Leslie Frazier said: "He's our starter. Yeah, he's our starter."
Ponder appeared to be playing himself out of that role during the middle portion of the season, but over the final four games, he compiled the NFL's second-best Total Quarterback Rating. Remember, Ponder was the No. 12 overall pick in 2011 and the 2013 draft class is weak. With the No. 24 overall pick this season and limited options in free agency, there wasn't much chance the Vikings would give up on Ponder this year.
"We're excited about his progress," Frazier said. "The way he played down the stretch, he was great. He had a lot to do with us winning those last four games the way we did. … We saw glimpses of what he can bring to our football team and the way he led us down the stretch, you feel like you have a chance to win every game when your quarterback plays the way he played. We're excited about his development and looking forward to him getting better through this offseason."
It's quite possible the Vikings will look for a veteran quarterback, but the intention would be for that player to back up Ponder rather than compete with him for the starting job. Ponder will get at least three years as the Vikings' starter, and frankly that's a fair evaluation period for a first-round draft pick.