Despite all the issues facing the rookie, head coach Leslie Frazier believes Ponder has done enough to prove he can be the long-term solution the Vikings have been searching for at quarterback.
"I believe he is. We still have five more games in our season to go where we can evaluate his progress, but he's done some things in these starts that he's had that he's going to continue to be the guy to develop and learn," Frazier said. "We'll see what happens after these next five game, but all indications are that he's going to be the answer for our team for the long term at quarterback and we're not going to have to be looking for a quarterback a year from now or even two years from now. He's done some real good things, from my observations."
After throwing three interceptions 10 days ago against the Oakland Raiders, Ponder may have had his best game of the season against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. He connected on 17 of 25 passes for 186 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and 103.1 passer rating, the highest of his career.
Still, Ponder continues to look at his tape with a critical eye.
"I think there were some things I could have done better to get the ball down the field, a couple throws that I should have made," said Ponder, who completed 10 of 12 passes in the first half. "Too many three-and-outs. We've got to do a better job staying on the field and converting third downs."
The Vikings converted only 4 of 13 third downs and managed only 12 first downs for the game. The bigger issue, however, is the losing. The Vikings have been hit hard with injuries of late, including Jenkins' season-ending knee injury Sunday and Peterson's high ankle sprain the week before that might keep him out of Sunday's game.
With just one win in five career starts, Ponder will continue to evaluate his progress and remain critical of himself first.
"I think on the offensive side, it all starts with me and it all starts in practice. I've got to make myself prepared to practice well and make sure I'm on my game and putting in the time. I think if guys see that, hopefully they'll follow that lead and do what they're supposed to do," Ponder said. "Everyone is a professional. We've got a lot of great guys on this team and a lot of veterans that are going to police everything. I don't think anyone's giving up right now."
LOSSES WEIGHING OF FRAZIER
At 2-9, the wear of the season is starting to show, perhaps no one feeling it more than Frazier.
"The losses are tough. I'm not accustomed to it. Don't want to get used to it and neither do I want our players to get used to it," Frazier said. "That's the thing that you battle, being able to move on from that game you may have lost and get ready for the next game. That's what weighs on you, but you have to figure out a way to move from it and get ready for the next ballgame."
Frazier said he would hold off with a full self-evaluation until after the season, but he has been taking blame for more of the issues of late.
"I'm more angry with myself in not being able to get us where we needed to be so we wouldn't be 2-9," he said Wednesday. "I think our guys have fought week in and week out. … We've just got to find a way to get over the hump so that we can gain some confidence and build on that."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.