Tag:Christian Ponder
Posted on: September 1, 2011 5:51 pm
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Peterson will benefit from Johnson's new contract

PetersonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

You know who’s really happy about Chris Johnson’s new mega-extension (the four-year, $53.5 million deal with $30 million of guaranteed money that we told you about earlier? Yes, Chris Johnson, of course.

But the second-happiest person might be Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson. Last week, the Vikings press corps asked Peterson about Johnson’s holdout in Tennessee. “Pay the man,” Peterson said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Now that the Titans have, Peterson is set to cash in as well. Probably at an even higher rate.

Peterson, who was the highest-paid back in the NFL before Johnson inked his new deal, will make $10.72 million in this, his contract year. But Peterson obviously wasn’t in a hurry to sign a new deal without seeing what Johnson agreed to first. Now that Johnson has set a new standard among running backs and with Peterson set to be a free agent after the 2011 season, Peterson likely will look at Johnson’s guarantee and go even higher.

As the newspaper writes, “Peterson is in perpetual competition with Johnson. He hates it when people say or even suggest Johnson is the league's best running back. The Vikings could let Peterson play out the final year of his contract at $10.72 million this season and then stick the franchise tag on him for about $12 million next season. That would save money, but that also comes a likely giant mess.”

Mostly because it would upset Peterson.

And with a new franchise quarterback in Christian Ponder set to take over the team, and considering Peterson is still only 26 and probably has a few more productive years left in his body, the Vikings don’t have much of a choice. They’re going to have to pay him, and they’re going to have to pay him well.

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Posted on: August 23, 2011 8:55 pm
 

Del Rio says David Garrard is his starting QB

J. Del Rio watches D. Garrard, his starter (Getty).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio's head, there’s not a doubt who will start at quarterback for his squad when Jacksonville opens the regular season vs. the Titans. In his mind, there was really never any question.

That person is David Garrard and not rookie Blaine Gabbert, and on Tuesday, Del Rio said it as simply as he could.

“David’s our starter,” Del Rio told the media, via the Florida Times Union.

Fair enough. But before Garrard gets comfortable, he should know this: Del Rio isn’t completely happy with the way he’s played thus far in the preseason (Garrard is 7 of 12 for 99 yards and an interception through two games, while Gabbert is 20 of 39 for 181 yards).

"We need more efficiency offensively and certainly the trigger man plays a large role in that," Del Rio said. "I think it all ties together. You know how I feel about it being a team game that we play and the timing of the routes with the receivers and the protection up front and the quarterback making good decisions delivering the ball. It all comes together and then you're able to do things offensively, where you're a beat off here or a beat off there and the play breaks down and when you have that timing it looks beautiful. So we're doing some things better and we've been in camp long enough.

"We have the same system, we have the same quarterback, we have the same players. We should expect to play at a higher level. I expect us to play at a higher level and now would be a good time."

Eventually, the person playing at a higher level will probably be Gabbert, a point made by CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco earlier this month when he tabbed him as a future top-10 quarterback.

Wrote Prisco: "I watched his tape in college, and Gabbert did some things that were unsettling. He felt phantom pressure at times. But you could always see the arm and the athletic ability. I liked Florida State's Christian Ponder more -- still do -- but Gabbert looked much better than I expected Thursday.

“I know it's only one practice, and it's not live contact, but he does things that you want from a quarterback. The coaches aren't publicly saying all that much about him, but they know. The scouts know. And you better believe general manager Gene Smith knows.”

For now, Del Rio doesn’t know. Or he will pretend he doesn’t know so Gabbert can continue improving or because he feels Garrard gives Del Rio a better chance of keeping his job after this season. But someday soon, when a reporter asks who the starter is, Del Rio will be saying (as if it’s been obvious the whole time), “Blaine’s our starter.”

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Posted on: August 17, 2011 4:24 pm
 

Roundtable: Which rookie QB will help the most?

C. Newton could be one of the breakout rookie QBs this year (Getty).

Posted by Eye on Football staff

Well, we're a week into the preseason and that means we know everything about everyone. Or nothing at all. Whatever, we got our first glimpses of the NFL's newest rookie quarterbacks and that leads us to the question: What rookie quarterback will help his team the most?

Will Brinson: Go ahead and cue up about 15 "Panthers homer" comments in the next few paragraphs, but I don't care: Cam Newton. The guy's a freak-a-deak athlete with a firehose attached to his right shoulder and he's going to get a chance to produce. Unfortunately, that firehose thing can also be bad if Newton can't control his accuracy. And it's possible that Jimmy Clausen -- who looked better than terrible after he threw a pick six on his second passing attempt -- could be the safer option for Carolina. But Newton gets the fanbase amped and he's already shown exponential growth since we last saw him throwing passes. Putting him in the proverbial fire's the way to go and he'll be a difference maker for Carolina in both the stands and the field.

Josh Katzowitz: Will, I couldn't agree with you more. I don't know if Newton will help his team that much more on the field than Clausen would have -- I'm willing to bet heavily on the odds that there are going to be games when Newton is ABSOLUTELY terrible and people are going to be saying, "Yeah, buddy, the NFL is a little different than the limited offense you ran at Auburn, eh?" (these people, of course, will be Canadians who care way too much about SEC football) -- but as far as starpower is concerned, Newton is the one. I don't care if he privately looks at himself as an entertainer and an icon. He's got that huge smile and he's got that charisma, and eventually, the stink of whatever NCAA rules his dad might have violated will wash away.

That said, I don't think he's going to contend for any rookie of the year honors, because as the season goes along, defenses are going to begin to figure out Newton. Actually, I think the real answer to your question about which rookie will help his team the most will end up being Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, assuming he stays healthy behind that poor offensive line. Alex Smith will continue to be Alex Smith, and midway through the season, Jim Harbaugh will call upon Kaepernick to replace Smith and win a few games for the 49ers. And I think he'll do it, especially in the NFC West, hastening Smith's departure (which, when you think about it, might be the single biggest reason how Kaepernick impacts the team). Newton will help his franchise the most, but Kaepernick will help his team the most.

Ryan Wilson
: We talked about it (at length, I might add) and Newton was impressive. I know, it's just one preseason game, but the guy's come a long way since February, the Auburn scandal, and the silly comments about being an entertainer and an icon.

And let's be honest, he's energized fans that had every reason to lose all hope and commit their energies to supporting NASCAR full time. That can't be understated. Winning is obviously the goal, but Panthers fans will find reasons for optimism if the Panthers can win five or six games. So in terms of therapeutic value for a downtrodden fan base, Newton is this season's most valuable QB.

A. Dalton could be the starting QB in Cincinnati (Getty). But if we're talking about a QB who has a chance to play and help his team win enough games to battle for a playoff spot, I'm going with Christian Ponder. Partly because Myron Rolle thinks he's a genius, but also because Donovan McNabb has become a punchline in recent years. How long until he's yanked in favor of Ponder? Four weeks? Remember: this is the guy who not only lost his job to Rex Grossman last season, he was eventually demoted to third string behind John Beck, he of four career starts, all losses, all coming in 2007.

Brinson: Well, we're one full turn around the table and the only person we haven't talked about is the only guy who's virtually guaranteed to start Week 1: Andy Dalton.

So, um, yeaaaaaaah.

What does that say about the Bengals? (And why do I have the feeling Josh will try to defend them?) I guess it says either that "We don't respect Andy Dalton," "We forgot about Andy Dalton," or "Even if Andy Dalton was Peyton Manning, he wouldn't be saving the Bengals from certain doom in 2011."

Perhaps it's all three?

Wilson: I didn't mention Andy Dalton for the same reason I don't think about paying my mortgage every day: if I ignore it, it don't exist. It's a coping mechanism. In Dalton's case, it means I'm not constantly reminded of what the 2011 season inevitably holds for him: pain, misery, disappointment -- all words that have become synonymous with the Bengals in recent years.

(Just look what the madness did to even-keeled Carson Palmer -- it drove him right into retirement in what should be the prime of his career. Think about that for a minute. Things were so god-awful in Cincinnati that Palmer would rather sit around the house doing crosswords than get caught up in tiger-striped maelstrom for another season.)

While we shouldn't put too much stock in first-ever preseason performances, Dalton's got his introduction to big-boy football from, fittingly, Ndamukong Suh. And I feel that was just a preview of things to come in 2011 (for both Dalton and Suh). So, yeah, it's pretty easy to be down on Dalton, more because he's a victim of circumstance. Which is why I don't want to think about it.

Brinson: Thanks for the reminder on the mortgage payment, jerk. Speaking of which, if there's one thing that the Panthers, 49ers, Titans, Vikings, Jaguars and Bengals have in common it's that they mortgaged their future on the talents of the 2011 NFL Draft class. With that in mind, let's wrap up this puppy up by making a list -- how do you gents rank the rookies in terms of impact on the 2011 season? Here's mine. Don't copy it.

1. Cam Newton
2. Blaine Gabbert
3. Andy Dalton
4. Christian Ponder
5. Jake Locker
6. Colin Kaepernick
7. Ryan Mallet
8. Terrelle Pryor

PonderWilson: No matter the list -- or the topic -- one thing is assured: Brinson will put Cam Newton at the top of it. Panthers fan solidarity and whatnot.

Back on Earth...

1. Christian Ponder (He'll be starting before the end of Sept.)
2. Colin Kaepernick (See above)
3. Blaine Gabbert (He'll be starting before Halloween)
4. Cam Newton (The next Jimmy Clausen? JOKE. Clearly, he's the next Chris Weinke.)
5. Andy Dalton (Must've been a serial killer in a previous life to get stuck with this fate.)
6. Jake Locker (Should only play if Hasselbeck gets injured.)
7. Ryan Mallett (Bill Belichick is a genius. That is all.)
8. Terrelle Pryor (But he's a first-round pick!)

Katzowitz: Just in case, Will needs a reminder: Here's my takedown of Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis in that ridiculous news conference they called to announce that Lewis would return for another season, and here's what I wrote about the Bengals' lack of a practice bubble. I lived in Cincinnati for six years, but believe me when I say that I think the Bengals are an incompetent mess (though, personally, I think Mike Brown is a nice man).

My list (the correct one):

1. Colin Kaepernick (If Mike Singletary thought about replacing Alex Smith with David Carr (!) last season, Jim Harbaugh shouldn't have a problem replacing Smith with Kaepernick)
2. Christian Ponder (Because he's better than Rex Grossman, and since Grossman is better than Donovan McNabb ...)
3. Cam Newton (How disturbing would it be if Clausen actually won the starting job?)
4. Andy Dalton (He still has Cedric Benson to lean on)
5. Blaine Gabbert (I'm not sure he can beat out David Garrard, and I'm not sure Garrard will be bad enough this year to warrant starting Gabbert)
6. Jake Locker (Locker will get tons of help from Hasselbeck)
7. Ryan Mallett (He won't even beat out Brian Hoyer to be Brady's backup)
8. Terrelle Pryor (I don't know, maybe, he could be an effective NFL TE?)

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Posted on: August 14, 2011 1:11 pm
 

Myron Rolle on Ponder: 'He's borderline genius'

Posted by Will Brinson

Christian Ponder didn't -- at least according to one expert opinion -- get off to the greatest start on Satruday night as Minnesota lost his debut to Tennessee 14-3. But that doesn't mean he can't become a good, great or just plain smart quarterback.

Or all of the above. According to Myron Rolle, that should be easy. Rolle, Ponder's former teammate at Florida State and a Titans safety, says the Vikings quarterback is, in fact, "borderline genius."

"He’s a very smart person, incredibly smart, one of the smartest I've met," Rolle said Satruday, per John Glennon of The Tennessean. "He’s borderline genius. So I don’t think it will be an issue for him at all to get adjusted mentally to the [professional] game."

If there's one NFL player (or human being in general, actually) who knows a thing or two about being intelligent it's Rolle.

Rolle, a Florida State graduate and former freshman All-American, eschewed the 2009 NFL Draft to pick up a Masters of Science in Oxford and then entered the 2010 draft, where Tennessee took him in the sixth round.

So, yeah, if you're talking about big brains, Rolle's a guy you want to check in with. And he worked with Ponder for some time in Tallahassee so while there's potential for bias, but it's pretty hard to argue with since, as Glennon points out, Ponder's got his bachelor degree, an MBA degree and is casually still rolling through FSU's sports management program.

"He has a mind outside of just book-smart," Rolle said of Ponder. "What I like to call it is applied knowledge. He can understand things. He grasped our teams at Florida State very quickly. He grasped social concepts at Florida State very quickly. He’s very impressive."

And, as Rolle points out, he's in a pretty good situation for applying said knowledge. Sitting behind Donovan McNabb and learning the Vikings offense, adjusting to the speed of the NFL game and growing into a professional quarterback.

Absolute worst-case scenario? It doesn't work out for Ponder and, like Rolle, he falls back on one of his many collegiate degrees to earn a nice living elsewhere, which is the real advantage of being a smart NFL player.

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Posted on: August 6, 2011 5:13 pm
 

McNabb's Vikings contract: 1 year, $5.05 million

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It's been a precipitous fall for Donovan McNabb, the one-time franchise quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles who was traded to the Redskins after the 2009 season. Washington gave him a five-year, $70 million extension early in the 2010 campaign only to later bench him for Rex Grossman.

It gets worse: McNabb was eventually demoted to third-string behind Grossman and John Beck, who had played in all of four NFL games (all losses, by the way) since coming into the league in 2007.

No one was shocked when McNabb and the Skins parted ways in July; Washington shipped him to the Vikings, where he's the latest grizzled veteran quarterback to assume the starting duties. This time, though, Minnesota didn't lavish their old-timer under center with a huge contract. Just the opposite, in fact.

An NFL source tells the StarTribune.com's Judd Zulgad that McNabb received a one-year deal worth $5.05 million.

Or as PFT's Mike Florio put is Saturday: "That’s only $1 million more than the $4 million average of the two-year deal that former Vikings starter Tarvaris Jackson signed in Seattle, and it’s $11 million less than what the guy who ultimately replaced McNabb will earn in Philly this year."

According to Tom Pelissero of ESPN Radio the team included incentives that push the maximum value of the contract to $7.25 million.

Zulgad calls the deal a "win-win" for the Vikings because it means that if McNabb plays in 2011 like he did in 2010 Minnesota can let him walk. It also gives us some indication of what the Vikings' plans are for rookie quarterback Christian Ponder: he'll likely sit for this season and it will be his job to lose heading into 2012. And who knows -- depending on how things go, perhaps sooner.

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2011 3:18 pm
 

McNabb says 'you become robotic' for some coaches

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It took nearly a week and the ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement, but Minnesota quarterback Donovan McNabb finally got on the field with his new teammates.

And not unlike his 2010 season in Washington, McNabb's first official day on the job was a mixed bag. The St. Paul Pioneer Press's Jeremy Fowler writes that "From 50-yard completions to ducks crashing into the grass, Donovan McNabb made just about every throw in his first full practice with the Vikings."

To be fair -- and McNabb pointed this out after the fact -- it was his first workout with a new team, with new faces, in a new system.

"We made a lot of big plays today, but some plays we want back," McNabb said, according to the Pioneer Press. "Everything was moving a mile a minute (early on); your legs feel so fresh that your drops are extremely fast. You just have to calm down."

One difference between Minnesota and previous teams -- at least to hear McNabb tell it -- is that Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is more amenable to input from the quarterback than former coaches (we won't name names but we'll venture a guess…).

"Some coaches say 'Hey, it's my way or no way,' " McNabb said. "You become robotic. That's when you pull away from your style of play and the way of things that got you successful. If things don't go as well as you'd like them to, you find out what the mistake was, you correct it and you go right back and get it done."

McNabb probably deserved to be benched at some point last season, but that's not the issue. Why did Mike Shanahan give up a second-round pick to division rival Philadelphia for a guy who didn't fit his system?

(And if the argument is, "Well, he thought McNabb was a good fit and that's why he traded for him," that makes Shanahan seem out of touch and a horrible judge of talent. Which is fine for your fantasty football team, less so when you're coaching an actual NFL franchise.)

Worse still: once it was determined that McNabb wasn't working, the backup plan was … Rex Grossman.  (If nothing else, the Redksins' chronic ineptitude over the years has provided some much need comedy relief. So there's that. )

Now McNabb gets a fresh start in Minnesota. And maybe he will find some of the magic that helped propel the Eagles to annual playoff appearances in the mid-2000s. But it's just as likely (and maybe more so) that 2011 will not only signal the end of McNabb's run as an NFL starter, but usher in the Christian Ponder era. The only question is when.

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Posted on: July 26, 2011 6:23 pm
 

McNabb could be headed to Minnesota

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

So, who wants to take a chance on Redskins QB Donovan McNabb, the guy who was beaten up and benched last year in Washington?

How ‘bout the team who just got finished employing Brett Favre? Yep, it’s the Vikings.

That’s according to CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman, who reports that the Vikings and Redskins have had "intense" conversations about possibly trading McNabb.

McNabb's destination
With rookie Christian Ponder and the inexperienced Joe Webb as the only legit starting QBs on the roster right now – you might have heard that the Seahawks will sign away Tarvaris Jackson from Minnesota – it stands to reason that the Vikings are in need of an experienced signal-caller to help with Ponder’s transition to the NFL.

But considering McNabb is due to make $12.5 million this season, the terms of McNabb’s contract would have to be restructured in order for the Vikings to accept the deal. Especially since, at one point last season, Washington coach Mike Shanahan thought Rex Grossman should be in the game to lead a last-minute drive instead of McNabb.

So, why do it? Well, as ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert writes, the deal only makes sense if McNabb comes into Minnesota with the understanding that he’d be Ponder’s backup. Otherwise, Seifert writes, “if Ponder isn't ready in Week 1, you wonder if someone like Joe Webb or Tyler Thigpen couldn't hold down the fort until he is. Isn't that a smarter long-term move than trading for a declining player who can't start for a team that plans to have Rex Grossman and John Beck compete for the job this summer? The Vikings drafted Ponder to end their cycle of Band-Aid solutions at quarterback, not to extend it.”

Considering the Redskins gave up two draft picks to get McNabb from the Eagles before the 2010 season, McNabb’s decline in value is pretty startling.

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Posted on: July 17, 2011 10:20 am
Edited on: July 17, 2011 10:35 am
 

'Nice market' in FA for Tarvaris Jackson?

Posted by Will Brinson

In Minnesota, Christian Ponder has become the unquestioned future at quarterback, and even if the Vikings end up pursuing and/or signing a veteran free agent, it will be in a "mentor" role.

What about the past, though?

We know Tarvaris Jackson isn't coming back to Minnesota, and we know that there's a need for quarterbacks around the NFL. But could there be a market for a guy like Jackson, who's got potential but has struggled so often to succeed at the NFL level?

Well, the NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora certainly thinks so and notes that he foresees "a nice market" for Jackson in free agency.

Specifically, LaCanfora cites the Redskins, the Seahawks and the Dolphins as "strong possibilities" to sign the former first-rounder.

Those teams make a lot of sense, too, because they've got uncertain quarterback situations with incumbent veterans that need to be pushed.

The Redskins will, in all likelihood, end up with Rex Grossman and John Beck competing for the starting job (we're assuming here, of course, that despite love from Mike Shanahan, Donovan McNabb gets the boot) and Tarvaris would make a good third wheel to push the other guys and give Mike Shanahan a second option. Plus, he can roll out and throw on the run, so he must be just like Jake Plummer!

In Seattle, Matt Hasselebeck is supposed to come back, but no one's really all that sure -- one week he's guaranteed to be back, the next week it's no more than a 50-percent chance. Since anyone can beat out Charlie Whitehurst for a job, Jackson's a good candidate there as well.

And in Miami, there's been a lot of chatter about Vince Young as a possible addition to the Dolphins roster. Jackson might not have the same résumé as Young but he also doesn't bring to the table the same dramatic downside that VY does.

Factor in that Jackson will be cheaper and more durable over the course of a contract than most "veteran" quarterback options out there, and it's not unreasonable to see why teams might be interested.

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