Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Dec 2012

ESPN: Is There Hope for Christian Ponder?

The list of quarterbacks with negative DYAR in their first two seasons is a very unhappy list... and Christian Ponder is now on it.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 04 Dec 2012

40 comments, Last at 07 Dec 2012, 10:30am by peterplaysbass

Comments

1
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:18pm

It's a Bust from Reachville, or a Reach from Bustville, yet again, for Vikings qb draft picks, I'm afraid. They have had a fair number of Pro Bowl years from their qbs through the decades, but the last guy they drafted who ended up starting double digit games in more than 3 of 6 consecutive years was drafted 50-plus years ago.

3
by jimmygatl (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:07pm

Is Daunte Culpepper really that old?

8
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 5:56pm

I forgot that Culpepper got 11 starts in 2001, and even without that year he would have cleared the bar. A better way to describe their qb draft history would be that no qb since Tarkenton has started double digit games in more than 5 consecutive years.

4
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:12pm

I'm not sure if I fully understand what you're saying, but the Vikings drafted Daunte Culpepper and he started double-digit games in five consecutive years. As you know, he would have made it six, and probably many more, had he not suffered a devastating knee injury. It's hard to blame the team's drafting mojo for that one.

9
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 5:58pm

Yeah, we'll never know what a Culpepper without a bad knee would have done without Moss. What we saw in 2005, prior to his injury, was not encouraging.

11
by Tim R :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 8:51pm

Didnt Moss only play 8/9 games in 2004 when Culpepper was awesome?

13
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 9:14pm

Yeah, and then he came back without Moss in 2005, and stunk the joint out.

20
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:52pm

That isn't actually terribly accurate. He threw a lot of picks and took a lot of sacks in 2005, but his completion percentage was still well above 60%. Given that his #1 receiver was supposed to be Nate Burleson that year, you could probably expect a significant drop off in statistics anyway.

But a lot of the "Daunte was never any good it was all Randy Moss." is just people overrating a bad stretch of interception luck. Daunte was still going to be a good NFL quarterback in the league before the knee injury.

23
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:41pm

I guess, in my view, taking a lot of sacks and throwing a lot of interceptions means you stunk the joint out, even with a a completion rate above 60%, because it is damned hard to win games when your offense is taking a lot of sacks and throwing a lot of picks.

I seldom like to pretend I know the answer to counterfactual questions, which is why I said nobody will will ever know if a Culpepper with an uninjured knee would have been a good qb without Randy Moss. I know that once his ability to run was greatly reduced, his effectiveness as a qb was hugely reduced, when he no longer had an elite HOF target to throw to.

25
by QCIC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:24pm

I am not sure he had a lot of fumble problems as well. Really only ever put it all together for about a season and a half.

29
by JIPanick :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:05pm

He also lost his OC (Linehan?) and Matt Birk (who made the line calls) at the same time, in addition to being unlucky for a few games before the catastrophic injury.

The timing of Moss' departure masked the rest of it in the public eye, which is unfortunate for his legacy - he was a quality QB for several years, and likely would have remained so had it not been for the injury.

31
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:24pm

I don't mean to kill the guy, but he had two good seasons, and one great one, out of the first five years in which he was expected to start, prior to blowing out his knee. That's not nothing, but it isn't enough to have a strong projection, especially since he really wasn't asked much to run an offense in a sophisticated manner. Shanahan said of the Vikings from that era that it was the only NFL team he ever saw who would frequently just throw to a guy regardless of coverage, confident that the guy would outplay the defender.

21
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:59pm

That isn't actually terribly accurate. He threw a lot of picks and took a lot of sacks in 2005, but his completion percentage was still well above 60%. Given that his #1 receiver was supposed to be Nate Burleson that year, you could probably expect a significant drop off in statistics anyway.

But a lot of the "Daunte was never any good it was all Randy Moss." is just people overrating a bad stretch of interception luck. Daunte was still going to be a good NFL quarterback in the league before the knee injury.

2
by drobviousso :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:40pm

WHAT!!11111!!!! Mark Sanchez is way better than Jamarcus Russell! How could you say such a thing?!?

5
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:15pm

Wow, if John Skelton hangs on for a few more years without significant improvement, he could relieve Joey Harrington of his title of "worst QB ever to play a significant amount in the NFL."

6
by mehlLageman56 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:23pm

I'm not an insider subscriber, so I can't read the article, but I thought Sanchez had beat him out for that by now.

12
by Paddy Pat :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 8:57pm

I'm sorta leaning Derek Anderson on this one myself. Harrington seemed to occasionally have stretches of competence. I guess Anderson had one decent year?

15
by Duff Soviet Union :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 7:15am

Rick Mirer?

17
by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:29pm

If Arizona can trade Skelton to Chicago for the next Walter Jones, I really think they should. On the otherhand, I recommend Chicago pass on that deal.

33
by LionInAZ :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 6:09pm

What about David Carr?

7
by fakeninjitsu :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 5:10pm

No

10
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 6:50pm

I don't like writing quarterbacks off entirely so early in their careers especially when they have no threats at receiver. However, Ponder does have the best running back in the NFL at his back, which should help him.

I liked Ponder as a late first or early second round pick but with the caveat that he'd have to play in a system that was sympathetic to his skill-set and he would need decent support. I think if he and Andy Dalton swapped places then their performances would swap with them but I worry for Ponder that he'll get caught in the churn as the Vikings coaching staff gets replaced in a tough division.

14
by Levi Brown still sucks (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 11:52pm

Levi Brown still sucks.

16
by QCIC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:11am

As a backup? Absolutely! I called this after the first couple games when everyone was singing his praises (because they were winning). He just doesn't have the tools to be anything more than say Romo at the absolute tippy-top of his ceiling, and is likely going to be much much worse than that.

Having the 20th best starting QB each year will get you nowhere, and that might be a tad optimistic about his production.

19
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:48pm

Lots of people like to pat themselves on the back for correctly predicting that a young qb will never be anything more than a lower tier starter. They neglect the fact that if you simply make that prediction for every young qb, you'll be right about 80-90 percent of the time. Now, show me a guy who correctly picks which young qbs will end up a star, with 80% accuracy, especially if we exclude the easy ones like Andrew Luck, and that is someone worth paying attention to. Of course, somebody that proficient would likely be earning a 7 figure salary from an NFL team in short order.

26
by QCIC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:28pm

IDK, that is one way to look at it. Another way to look at it is most young players who show any promise are repeatedly treated as though they will just get better and better and be stars, and that knowing this isn't the case is also a skill, though maybe not front office worthy (though lots seem to miss it).

I am always saying and most people even here still don't seem to understand that regression to the mean is STRONGER than age progression. SO someone who is an above league average starter their rookie year is more likely to be worse their second year than better. Most people discuss players as though they would be blown away by that fact, but it is true. Sure there are your Adrian Petersons, but there are many many more people who are just a flash in the pan.

People were going gaga for Ponder when the Vikings were 3-1. He "turned the corner". He "was going to be leading this team for a decade". I guess you could say seeing through that is nothing special, but then again not many did...

27
by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:53pm

Produce a quotation, from someone of note, who said that Ponder "would be leading this team for a decade", please.

Look, if you want to congratulate yourself, go ahead. My only point is that the talent evaluation skill worth paying attentiont to is a high success rate in picking, early on, which young players will be above averge performers. Hardly anybody is good at it.

(edit) To draw an analogy, saying "young qb x will never be more than a sub-average starter" is no more difficult, in terms of the odds of being right, than saying "it will hot in Atlanta on June 1st next year".

18
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:38pm

It's been my experience that when a headline ends in a question mark, the answer is almost always "no".

22
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:11pm

Wow, if John Skelton hangs on for a few more years without significant improvement, he could relieve Joey Harrington of his title of "worst QB ever to play a significant amount in the NFL."

Via PFR, here are the worst quarterbacks by passer rating index by minimum number of passes:

4,000 passes: Kerry Collins
3,000 passes: Trent Dilfer
2,000 passes: Rick Mirer
1,000 passes: Scott Brunner (Phil Simms' predecessor with the Giants -- in 1983, completed less than half his passes with nine touchdowns and 22 picks)
500 passes: Ryan Leaf

24
by Dean :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:04pm

Wow. Scott Brunner! Keep in mind, in 1983, Simms is a 4 year vet and yet Brunner is the starter. I don't recall if injuries played a part that year or not, but at one point, Brunner had genuinely beaten Simms out for the job.

28
by dryheat :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:51pm

That's really interesting. I wonder if there's any statistical way I can back up my firm contention that the Offspring are the worst rock band ever of those that have had commercial success of more than 10 years and 5 albums?

30
by Gus (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:09pm

Have the Maroon 5 been around for 10 years/5 albums yet?

32
by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:24pm

Bon Jovi exists.

37
by QCIC (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 5:05pm

You don't like The Offspring?!? I don't know about their later stuff, but the stuff through the mid 90s (first 4 albums or so) is absolutely excellent. They are not musical geniuses, but neither were the Beatles or Stones, their songs are about the lyrics, most of which are excellent and a lot more sophisticated than 90% of the rest of music.

Are you over 35?

38
by dryheat :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 5:16pm

I am indeed over 35, but not by much, which puts me in college when they hit the scene. If I had one word to describe them, it would be "unlistenable". If I had two words, they would be "unlistenable garbage." I'm not saying there haven't been worse bands in history (I'm not not saying it, either), but ones that suck that bad usually don't hang around this long making more unlistenable music.

If you want to argue that their radio play is not an accurate portrayal of their catalogue, I'd defer to you. If you ask me what the two absolute rock-bottom songs ever played on FM radio, I'd offer you Pretty Fly for a White Guy and that La La Why Don't You Get a Job song. I'd probably put the rest of them in the worst 25 or so.

40
by peterplaysbass :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 10:30am

"Smash" is their best album. I fell in love with it during those tender middle school years (I'm 31).

34
by andrew :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 6:40pm

this handy diagram sums it up:

What Christian Ponder Sees

35
by peterplaysbass :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 6:59pm

"In 20 starts for the Vikes, TJack passed for 3,984 yards, 24 touchdowns, was intercepted 22 times, completed 58.7 % of his passes and had a QB rating of 76.7. In Ponder's 22 starts for the Vikes, he's thrown for 4,086 yards, 26 touchdowns, been intercepted 22 times, completed 59.4 % of his passes and posted a QB rating of 76.7."

Credit: the above originally appeared at The Daily Norseman. I found it at Kick Ass Blog.

36
by andrew :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 7:57pm

whatever hope ponder has it will be without Harvin the rest of the year. He was just placed on IR.

39
by LionInAZ :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 6:37pm

For a sprained ankle, no less.