Christian Ponder, Frazier exercise short-term memory, move on to Bears
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- In the wake of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder's underwhelming performance in the season opening loss to the Detroit Lions, coach Leslie Frazier insisted the team is not pointing fingers.
Frazier said there's plenty of blame to go around after allowing 469 yards to the Lions' offense and committing four turnovers.
"Christian [Ponder], he made some mistakes, but he's not the only reason we didn't have success on Sunday," Frazier said. "Our team did not play well and that affects the quarterback as well. It wasn't just Christian, it just so happens that he plays the position that's under the most scrutiny."
Both coach and quarterback are convinced the problems that led to just two third-down conversions, three sacks and five three-and-outs on Sunday are easily fixable with a short-term memory.
"Sunday night you get that bad feeling, Monday morning as you head into the film room you get that bad feeling and as you watch the game you're like, 'oh man, that's something that was dumb that could have easily just not happened," Ponder said. "As you watch it, it's a bad taste in your mouth but at the same time it gives you confidence because, hey, these are easily correctable."
Ponder struggled most when throwing against loaded fronts, which he'll likely see in bulk next Sunday at Chicago.
He faced eight or more men in the box on 36% of the plays at Detroit. As pointed out by 1500ESPN.com columnist Phil Mackey, he threw two interceptions versus those looks, only significantly stretching the field on the 47-yard completion to receiver Jerome Simpson.
Feeling pressure on half of his 34 dropbacks, Ponder only looked poise and efficient when he had a decent amount of time, which was evident by his throw to Simpson.
"There are times when we had a ton of time," Ponder said. "Like that long throw to Jerome [Simpson]. ... In every game, it's going to be different. [Detroit has] a good D-line, so they're going to get past the pass rush and have guys get in the backfield and make plays."
Ponder's 11-yard run against the Lions showed he's got the ability to get out of the pocket and scramble when he needs to. However, Ponder hasn't always been able to make those snap decisions.
Frazier said a key component of any quarterback's job is evading and succeeding against pressure.
"It does happen in our league to quarterbacks and you have to be able to function in those situations," Frazier said. "They aren't going to always be perfect."
Backup quarterback Matt Cassel and other teammates backed up Ponder by saying "it's just Week 1." But in his 28th NFL start on Sunday, the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft will need to show a significant progress to quell any talks of a benching.
"I don't listen to any of that stuff, to be completely honest," Cassel said. "Christian [Ponder] is the starter."
When asked about signs of progress, Frazier doesn't point to the preseason or opening weekend. His hands are still tied in pointing to nine months ago.
"Yeah some of those games late last season, there were moments," Frazier said. "That Green Bay game [on Dec. 30] was a terrific performance by Christian. We've seen him do it on repeated occasions. The consistent play is what we're looking for."