Well I finally pulled myself out of the haze I’ve been in to write something about the disastrous game against the Tampa Bay Bucs on Thursday night. I don’t even think it was the loss itself that bothered me as much as witnessing (along with a national audience) a complete failure in so many facets of the game. There are plenty of Vikings fans just like me feeling a bit unsure about a laundry list of things, yet there doesn’t ever seem to be any comfort in numbers. In fact, sometimes listening to the shear volume of opinions after a loss almost automatically results in that doom and gloom feeling.
Not surprisingly the player that has been saddled with the brunt of the negativity is Christian Ponder. It’s funny to think that only a few weeks ago Ponder was looking (dare I say it now) fairly impressive. Clearly the fans in the dome had been sitting on some pent up emotion after Ponder’s highly visible failures over the past two weeks. Some didn’t waste any time on Thursday night as the heckling and headshaking began after the first series. On the plus side for Ponder, I didn’t hear any “Joe Webb” chants floating down from the upper deck so that’s an improvement over last year. Even if the love affair with Ponder took an ugly turn, I think the fans know that there isn’t anything better waiting on the bench. Nothing like adding insult to injury, but the Vikings could have held off on giving out the free Christian Ponder posters to fans leaving the dome after such an ugly loss. The streets outside were littered with shredded Ponder. Good thing the players use a tunnel at the back of the dome otherwise that visual probably wouldn’t have done much to help his confidence.
I haven’t heard anyone utter anything credible to explain Ponder’s apparent giant step back in his development, but I’m sure there has been plenty of interesting speculation. The most entertaining is what I like to call “The Romo Effect” after Cowboys’ QB Tony Romo. This terrible affliction happens when an NFL player starts dating a high profile woman (in Ponder’s case ESPN talent, Samantha Steele) and then subsequently forgets how to play the game of football. Not sure I buy into this theory with Ponder, but I did hear some shouts at the game to “dump Samantha” so I might not represent the majority.
While I’m certainly not suggesting to give Ponder a pass on his performance, I think there are plenty of players and coaches that could stand to take some heat as well. Maybe it will be good for everyone to have a few days away. Let’s hope that absence makes the heart grow fonder for Ponder as the Vikings head to Seattle for a difficult matchup on November 4th. SKOL!