Vikings: Ponder more effective in hurry-up

The Vikings could implement more of a hurry-up offense with Christian Ponder even when the clock doesn't dictate it.

In this case, the stats don't lie … too much.

They are good enough to convince the Minnesota Vikings to admit that implementing a two-minute offense or some sort of a hurry-up offense may actually be valuable when the Vikings don't necessarily have to be put in that position because of the score.

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave admitted as much without prompting when asked for his assessment of Christian Ponder's performance against the Green Bay Packers Sunday night.

"I think back to him making some plays in some two-minute scenarios for us, at the end of both halves," Musgrave said. "The second one didn't matter, but the first half, I thought it helped us to go into the locker room with some momentum and kept us in striking distance. He got us into some good plays. He's very sharp and does a nice job of doing our check-with-me's and changing our protection. Those things are positives."

The Vikings' final drive of the first half went eight plays for 77 yards and was capped by Adrian Peterson's 8-yard touchdown to cut the Packers' lead to 24-17 with four seconds left in the half. Ponder was 5-for-6 for 49 yards on that drive.

"It's not as structured as things are in early parts of a football game and that may have something to do with it," Frazier said of some quarterbacks' success in the hurry-up offense. "You're just kind of free to do some things that you are maybe comfortable doing on the fly. That may have something to do with it. I can't really put my finger on it because we need him to be good even when we're not in two minutes. But he has excelled when we've been behind or we've been in hurry-up mode. He's done pretty good."

Following a game in which Ponder wasn't all that effective, the Vikings will take what they can get from him and the offense, and it could be one of the reasons he seems to be the favorite to start again Sunday in Dallas (he and Josh Freeman are the considerations, according to head coach Leslie Frazier).

Ponder completed 14 of 21 passes for 145 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and an 86.4 rating against the Packers.

Musgrave admitted the Vikings' final drive, when the Packers already had a 44-24 lead with only 2:53 to play at the start of it, "didn't count." But in the final drive of the first half, which started with 1½ minutes to play, and the final two drives of the game, Ponder was at his most effective.

During those drives – all them ending on rushing touchdowns – he completed 10 of 13 passes for 104 yards. The rest of the game, he completed only 4 of 8 passes for 41 yards.

"I don't know the reason for it, but it's a different theme for us," Musgrave said. "We've had success running the ball with the quarterback under center, fullback-led runs. But we also need to be flexible enough to get the quarterback in the gun and also have a threat there with some passing game for our quarterback, but also keep Adrian (Peterson) in play."

Musgrave said the Vikings can operate in two modes in their hurry-up offense: with him calling in the plays from the sideline or allowing the quarterback to make the calls on the fly.

"One of them is up-tempo," Musgrave said, "and the other one is trying to exhaust the defense and control the clock and keep the opposing offense on their sideline. We have a couple different modes."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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