Like Will Ferrell's Robert Goulet character recording the Coconut Banger's Ball – It's a Rap (see video above), Christian Ponder is actually doing the fans and the Minnesota Vikings franchise a frickin' service by playing so brutally over the past seven games.
In those seven games, he's failed to throw for over 100 yards three times – and two other times he did it happened when the Vikings were way behind and defenses were playing soft coverage. He's only had one game that can be classified as solid-to-good (a month ago against Detroit, which hardly counts), and he's looked only slightly better than Arizona's John Skelton and Ryan Lindley. In the past two weeks it's been clear what Minnesota offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's gameplan has been – do everything you can to minimize, even eliminate, Ponder's impact on the game. They are asking him to do little other than hand off to Adrian Peterson and not throw interceptions. And even with so little being asked of him, Ponder has barely been up to the task.
But as I thought about Ponder's play on Sunday in between cursing it, I got to thinking this isn't such a bad thing.
My line of thinking goes this way. If Ponder was playing serviceable, or even mediocre-level football as the Vikings fashioned a surprising 7-6 record, I think the coaches and general manager Rick Spielman could hope, and try to sell to the fan base, that Ponder was still progressing. They could trick themselves into thinking that with another year or two of experience, and with some newer, better receivers to throw to, he'd develop into the kind of quarterback who could win games for the Vikings. There would still be enough doubt in the minds of the Vikings front office that Ponder really wasn't a mistake. So fans would get one, two, maybe even three more seasons of that kind of play from Ponder and the Vikings would be right where they are now. An Ok team, but no Super Bowl contender.
However, my feeling is Ponder's play of late has removed all doubt that he will go down as a first round bust. I hate that I've come to that conclusion because I really like him personally and I want him to succeed. But experienced football minds like what the Vikes supposedly have on staff must be able to see what I'm seeing with Ponder. They must know very few NFL quarterbacks have been so bad during their first few years in the league and then turned out to be so good. (Hat tip to @ArifHasanDN for finding that link).
In short, while we may be stuck with Ponder in 2012, I think his play will force the Vikings to ensure we aren't stuck with him – at the least – as the only starting QB option in 2013.
And in Vikings Country, we call that progress.