Coach says Christian Ponder in no jeopardy of losing starting job
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Leslie Frazier made one thing clear on Friday.
Christian Ponder's recent struggles aren't going to land the Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback on the bench.
A day after the Vikings' 36-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Metrodome, Frazier was asked if there was any way he would consider a change to backup Joe Webb.
"Barring injury, Christian's going to be fine," Frazier said. "We have complete confidence that he's going to do a good job for us. We'll keep working as a group to improve as a whole, but I don't foresee that situation."
Ponder completed 19 of 35 passes for 251 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Buccaneers. He had a 74.8 passer rating. However, he was only 10 of 22 for 134 yards before Tampa Bay dropped into a prevent defense in the fourth quarter.
In the Vikings' 21-14 over Arizona last Sunday, Ponder had one of the worst games of his two-year career. He completed only eight of 17 attempts for 58 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions and had a feeble 35.5 passer rating.
After throwing four touchdowns and no interceptions in the first four games, Ponder has thrown seven picks and six touchdowns in the past four games.
Frazier, though, said Ponder is still doing "some things that you like to see," and pointed to the fact the Vikings will be patient with the 12th-overall pick in the 2011 draft.
"You're working with a guy that's in his second season," Frazier said. "There are going to be some ups and downs and sometimes during the course of the game. The good about Christian is he's shown the ability to make those corrections as we go.
"But we have to make sure that we're getting everybody on the offense to play up to the standards that we're asking and not make it all about the quarterback. That's one of the things that we'll center on (next) week at practice. There are some areas on our offense and on our team that we have to pick things up so that it's not all about the quarterback."
Vikings players will be off Friday through Sunday before returning to practice Monday as preparations begin for the Nov. 4 game at Seattle. Frazier said there will be a focus on blitz pickups because other teams are going to see what the Buccaneers did to the Vikings and attempt to copy it.
He also noted the obvious point that Ponder and his wide receivers need to get on the same page when it comes to connecting on vertical routes.
"One of the things we've got to do a better job of is making sure that our quarterback feels comfortable in the pocket," Frazier said. "We have to do a good job of running good routes and making ourselves available to the quarterback. And then when guys are there, we've got to make sure we get the football to them on time.
"In the passing game, that's generally the way it is. It's not any one thing. It's a combination and that's what we're seeing when we're looking at the tape. We've got to improve on what we're doing and we're talking about ways to do that. It's going to be hard for us to achieve our goals if we're not able to improve our passing game."