Christian Ponder or Donovan McNabb? Topic is under discussion
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Monday the team would discuss whether rookie Christian Ponder will replace Donovan McNabb as its starting quarterback on Monday and Tuesday and "should come to a conclusion" by Wednesday as to the direction the franchise wants to go at the position.
The Vikings, coming off a 39-10 loss at Chicago on Sunday that saw them drop to 1-5, brought in Ponder to replace McNabb in the fourth quarter of the game.
"I'll be able to provide some insight (Wednesday), one way or another, as to why we chose to go in the direction that we're going," Frazier said.
Asked about the discussions that will be held, Frazier said: "We're going to talk about a lot of things, but the primary point will be what's best for our team as we go forward, as we prepare for our next opponent. That will be the determining factor. What's going to help our football team?"
McNabb completed 19 of 24 passes for 177 yards Sunday in what some have called his best performance of the season. The issue, however, is that McNabb and the Vikings continue to rely on the short passing game and the Bears were just fine with that. McNabb also continued to have issues with the accuracy on his throws.
Ponder entered in the fourth quarter with the Vikings down by 29 points and completed 9 of 17 passes for 99 yards.
"Donovan did a lot of good things in that ballgame," Frazier said. "He took us down and got a scoring drive. Christian came in and provided a spark when he was in there. But when you score 10 points as a team, it's hard to find anything that really brightens you up. It was just a disappointing loss for our team. So if someone did something here or there that was positive, it gets overshadowed by the way our team played."
The Vikings will face the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers (6-0) on Sunday at the Metrodome. Frazier stuck with his "what's best for the team" theme when asked about whether having Ponder start against a club as good as the Packers might be an issue.
"The opponent is the opponent," he said, "they are going to be a good team whoever we lineup against. It's going to be a good team whenever Christian gets his chance to play. It just so happens this week we're playing the defending world champions. They are a very good football team. Whenever that time comes, whoever it is, they are probably going to be a good team as well."
Frazier did not say if he will include the players who makes up his veteran committee in the discussion about whether to switch to Ponder, who was taken with the 12th pick in last April's draft. Frazier has told his team all season that he felt they could compete in the NFC North and a switch to Ponder would signify the realization that the Vikings need to look ahead to 2012.
"I don't know," defensive end Jared Allen said when asked for his feelings on the subject. "I think Donovan has kind of gotten an unfair shake. Granted, he hasn't made the spectacular, 80-yard throw. I think one of the greatest things that he's not getting enough credit for is ball security. We're not throwing picks. (McNabb has two this season.)
"He's not really turning the ball over. Honestly, I don't know how the reaction is going to be. Ponder did some good things. I thought he looked good running around and making some throws. It was exciting. I hope that's not the mindset. If that's the decision that's made, then that's the decision they feel can help us win now. I don't know how many more years I've got left to rebuild and look forward to 2012. I'm here in the now."
Frazier deflected a question about whether the decision could be impacted by the fact the Metrodome crowd booed McNabb and chanted for Ponder to come into the game when the Vikings beat Arizona, 34-10, on Oct. 9.
Frazier did acknowledge that "it's very important" to stick with his decision once it has been made.
"You don't want to have to be, week eight or nine, flip-flopping quarterbacks," he said. "So once the decision is made, if we were to decide to go to Christian, you'd like to be able to decide this is the way to go. But you don't want to be, in my mind, going back and forth."
Allen, meanwhile, said he isn't worrying about the quarterback situation.
"To be honest, it's not even in my thought process right now," he said. "It'll be interesting I guess and we'll see how the team handles it. One more stone to skip in the water, one more wrinkle to stir up. That's coach's decision and he'll do what he thinks is best for the football team and we'll go from there."