Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 11/18/14

Minnesota Vikings' second year quarterback Christian Ponder has shown signs of improvement from last year, and even last week.  Although the Vikings lost to the Colts yesterday, 23-20, Ponder's accuracy has improved.

Ponder was a respectable 20-27 last week for 270 yards.  No interceptions, no touchdowns, just moved the ball down the field.  This week, Ponder was 27-35 for 245 yards with two touchdown passes late in the fourth quarter.  This makes Ponder a combined 47-62 for 515 yards.  It also makes him the most accurate passer (75.8) in the NFL and gives him the seventh highest passer rating (110.6).

Some might argue that Ponder doesn't take any risks and relies on little dump offs.  Well, if you look at his yards per attempt, he is averaging 8.31 yards, which is also seventh best in the league.  Ponder isn't the "gunslinging" quarterback that Brett Favre was, but that is ok.  The less Ponder turns the ball over, the better it is for the Vikings.  The Vikings' defense has enough trouble defending a long field, if the offense gives up the ball in their own territory, the defense is going to be in a world of hurt.

Let's look at Ponder's fourth quarter and overtime stats now.  Ponder is a combined 24-32 for 256 yards in the two games, including a drive to set up Blair Walsh for the game tying field goal, a game winning drive, and a game tying touchdown.  What does this mean?  He can come through in the clutch.  Also, if you look at his stats, he's consistent, he just throws more in the fourth quarter.

Ponder continued to impress yesterday on first and second down as he threw 78%.  He also threw well on third downs as he was 9-12.  The Vikings' third down conversion rate was much better this time around as they converted 7-15.  Ponder's accuracy has paid dividends so far this season.

However, every quarterback needs a strong receiving core.  What does Ponder have?  He has Percy Harvin, and that is about it.  Not to say Harvin isn't a great target, because he is, but looking at the stats from yesterday, Ponder completed 44% of his passes to Harvin, a much higher rate than any other receiver on the team.  Harvin had 12 receptions for 104 yards, marking the seventh time in his career that he caught over 100 yards in a game.  Harvin is a great receiver to have for a young quarterback because he can get open and make things happen.  However, after that, the Vikings' receiving core is not getting the job done.

Ponder has made due with what he has.  The real test will be next week against a staunch San Francisco 49ers defense.  The way Ponder can keep the Vikings in the game is by keeping his mistakes to a minimum and not throwing interceptions.  The 9ers defense is known for their takeaways, but Ponder is going to have to be smart with the ball.  If Ponder can have a solid performance against the 9ers next week, he might be the real deal, and the future will look a little brighter for Vikings' fans.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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