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Updated: November 20th, 2013 3:57pm
Zulgad: What are the Vikings doing at quarterback? It's anyone's guess

Zulgad: What are the Vikings doing at quarterback? It's anyone's guess

by Judd Zulgad

We give up.

Ten games into a lost season for the Minnesota Vikings, we're done trying to figure out what this franchise is attempting to do when it comes to the starting quarterback position.

The only thing that makes sense at this point is that whatever general manager Rick Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier are attempting to do makes no sense. Who knows if they are even on the same page.

The last, last straw came Wednesday when Frazier announced that after benching Ponder following a dreadful performance in the second half of Sunday's loss at Seattle, the coach was going to start Ponder this weekend against the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field.

What in the name of Spergon Wynn, Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger is going on? Only Spielman and Frazier know and while an honest explanation would be appreciated, it also scares us that perhaps these two gents are simply making it up as they go.

Continuing to start Ponder certainly can't be the answer. That's not fair to anyone. Not the players, not the fans and, maybe most importantly, not Ponder.

The Vikings know exactly what they have in Ponder and, if they are humane about the situation, they will release him after this season with a year remaining on the contract he received after being selected 12th overall in 2011.

After starting 26 games in his first two NFL seasons, Ponder held the job for the first three games of 2013. He was benched following an 0-3 start and the assumption was that would be it for Ponder.

But after Matt Cassel started two games and Josh Freeman, signed during the bye week, started another, Ponder was given the job back and the company line was that he gave the Vikings the best chance to win.

If anyone really believed that, it became clear that logic was completely misguided last Sunday in Seattle. Ponder threw two terrible second-half interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, showed, again, that he had no awareness in the pocket and finished with a passer rating of 53.0.

Ponder was replaced by Cassel, who also threw an interception and completed only five of 13 passes.

Common sense said that Freeman would take over in Green Bay and get the opportunity to finish out the season and show what he could do. That seemed to be the plan when the Vikings signed Freeman to a $2 million contract during the bye week in early November after he was let go by Tampa Bay.

Instead, Freeman made the one start in the loss to the Giants - a game in which he was asked to throw an inexcusable 53 passes - and then sat after that because of a concussion.

At this point, Freeman has to be counting the days until he can escape this mess.

There are some who are guessing the Vikings brass is starting Ponder because they actually feel that gives them the best chance to lose and thus secure a higher draft pick.

Remember, these are the guys who would have been far better off if they had managed to lose close games in 2011 at Carolina and Washington. That would have left the Vikings at 1-15 and Andrew Luck now would be their quarterback.

But if that's the case, someone from the organization should be smart enough to leak this game plan to a prominent media member so at least there would appear to be some rationale behind the strategy.

The only other thought, and this one is scary, is that a determination has been made that Ponder actually is the best quarterback at Winter Park and that Cassel and Freeman are actually worse.

Is that possible?

Ponder did look competent a couple of weeks ago against Washington but the Redskins defense is among the worst in the league. Nobody expected him to look like a world-beater in Seattle but he at least has to appear as if he knows what he's doing. There was little evidence of this last Sunday.

The Vikings, of course, aren't giving any concrete reasons for how they are handling the situation and odds are one isn't coming.

That leaves those who follow the team with this option: Stop trying to apply logic and just wait for it all to come to a merciful end.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd