As the final whistle blew on a preseason game last week and the former Florida quarterback walked off the field, the debate continued to rage. His precipitous drop from highly touted first-round draft pick and potential week one starter had quickly deteriorated into three minutes of garbage time and the number three spot on the roster.
“At this point he may not even be the third best quarterback on our roster,” said an unnamed source within the organization.
This was a far cry from the celebration and pageantry he felt when he was taken with the 12th overall pick in the NFL draft. Some people said the team reached to get him, but the organization had been sold on him for weeks. Unfortunately when a team makes you their number one draft pick, it comes with very, very high expectations, and things were not working out quite the way Christian Ponder hoped.
“Right now, Joe Webb is 10 times better than Christian Ponder,” said a Vikings assistant coach who declined to be named. “Christian Ponder sucks. He’s the worst quarterback I’ve ever seen.”
It’s not just folks inside his organization that are knocking the Minnesota Vikings rookie. ESPN’s Merril Hoge said on Twitter recently, “Sitting watching tape of Viking offense from preseason!” he wrote. “McNabb or Ponder? It’s embarrassing to think the Vikings could win with Ponder!!”
Hoge expanded on his Twitter comments during a recent episode of ESPN’s SportsCenter.
“His mechanics are terrible, and don’t even get me started on his feet,” Hoge said as part of a rant that went on uninterrupted for five solid minutes. “I can’t even imagine a worse starting quarterback than Christian Ponder. I would rather eat dog food than watch this guy play quarterback.”
Even Ponder’s teammates have weighed in on the story. Vikings Wide receiver Percy Harvin, who played with Bret Favre and Tavaris Jackson before catching passes from Ponder, Webb and McNabb this season, seems to be in favor of Ponder remaining on the bench.
“It’s just the Ponder thing,” Harvin said. “Now that we’ve got Donovan in there, we can get back to being a high-powered offense. [Ponder] throws like a girl. I’m embarrassed to play football with him.”
Even when the Vikings went out and traded for McNabb, Ponder was expected to compete for the starting job and be a shoo-in for the backup position. But with the impressive training camp that Joe Webb has had, Ponder is getting more and more reps with the third-team offense.
Some people have pointed out that Ponder is trying to learn an entirely new system, has a brand new coach and is being asked to do things that he was never asked to before. He is also competing against veteran quarterbacks who have years of NFL experience and are more accustomed to playing in an NFL offense. Those people, however, are being told to sit down and shut up so everyone can bash Christian Ponder.
Oh wait, none of this happened. Because even though Christian Ponder is a first-round draft pick who a team took way earlier than he was projected and has now been relegated to the third-string quarterback, no one cares. Food for thought. Haters.