Although Greg Jennings is in his first off-season with the Minnesota Vikings, he has been quick to come to the defense of his new quarterback Christian Ponder. Jennings, who was traded to the Vikings from long-time rival the Green Bay Packers this past March, had a a couple things to say about Ponder to Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take this morning. Keeping this in mind, we’ll examine Jennings’ comments one at a time. Greg started his comments about Ponder with the following:
“Every quarterback, you’ve got to give him time (to develop),” Jennings said. “Tell me this, right now: Brett Favre, receivers around him. Aaron Rodgers, receivers around him. Christian Ponder, receivers around him.”
First, Jennings is pointing out a somewhat obvious fact: Ponder is only going into his third year in the NFL and because of this, one cannot expect him to be playing at his highest level. However, with the performance of rookie quarterbacks RG III, Russel Wilson, and fellow three-year veteran Colin Kaepernick being what they are, I wouldn’t say that Ponder shouldn’t be playing at a high level yet either.
Second, Jennings is insinuating that Ponder has not had high-level receivers around him like Favre and Rodgers have. Greg is correct that Ponder has not had an entire receiving corp made up of stars like I would argue Favre had in Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, and James Jones in his last season with the Packers or Rodgers had in these same receivers plus Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and Jermichael Finley just last year. However, Ponder hasn’t exactly been without start receivers since his arrival in Minnesota. Ponder had the opportunity to play with Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph who are both excellent talents. A major factor in Ponder’s seemingly lack-luster performance the past two seasons was his inability to take advantage of Percy Harvin with the deep ball. Ponder will have no excuse this coming season with a receiving corp featuring Kyle Rudolph, Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson (hopefully), and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson.
Jennings went on to say:
“He (Ponder) has always been (in) a position where the stress and the pressure was on him, and he really didn’t have the help around him to take that load off, outside of ’All Day’ (Adrian Peterson). That’s it.”
I have a couple problems with this statement as well. Every player in every position has stress and pressure on them every game, especially quarterbacks, so this statement about Ponder is really moot. Additionally, Jennings brushes over the fact that Ponder has Adrian Peterson, saying “that’s it,” as is having AP doesn’t take almost an immeasurable load off of Ponder’s back because the defense always has to account for a running back that dynamic. Regardless of these facts, it is a quarterback’s job to lead under pressure and still perform at a high level.
Lastly, Jennings said of Ponder:
“You should have questions about the quarterback”
With this last statement about Ponder, it seems as if Jennings is skeptical about the young quarterback, even after trying to stand up for him. In the end, with another year of experience under his belt and a stronger receiver corp, this season should show what Christian Ponder’s NFL potential is.