EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. With quarterback Christian Ponder's confidence looking shaky, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier reiterated his full confidence in his second-year starter on Friday.
Coming off another shaky outing from Ponder (19 of 35 passing for 251 yards, one touchdown, one interception and three sacks) in Thursday's 36-17 loss at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Frazier said he's sticking with Ponder as the team's starter at quarterback and won't be making a move to backup Joe Webb.
"Barring injury, Christian's going to be fine," Frazier said Friday. "We have complete confidence that he's going to do a good job for us. We'll keep working as a group to improve as a whole, but I don't foresee that situation."
Ponder appeared ahead of the learning curve during the first month of the season, while leading Minnesota to a 4-1 start, and he was among the league leaders in completion percentage and quarterback rating. He was also the last starting quarterback in the NFL to throw an interception this season.
But as the Vikings have lost two of their last three games, Ponder has struggled to regain the composure and the ability to come up with clutch plays he showed earlier in the season. He's thrown seven interceptions in the last four weeks and also lost a fumble during that time. And he's been sacked 10 times in the past three games.
"I don't think his confidence is shaken to the point where he can't succeed, at all," Frazier said. "I think he'll bounce back from any ups and downs that he has. But we've got to help him, though. We've got to do some things around him offensively that will help him be more productive."
Ponder now owns an 85.8 quarterback rating, which is 17th in the league after being in the top 10 in the category for the first month of the season. He's completed 65.3 percent of his passes, which is the ninth-best mark, and has 1,743 yards and 10 touchdowns. After going four games without an interception, he now ranks 19th in the league with seven.
But Frazier's confidence in Ponder, the No. 12 overall pick in last year's draft, who has started 18 games as a pro, hasn't wavered and the coach believes Ponder is going through the natural progression of starting quarterbacks in the NFL and he will come out of the recent struggles. Frazier said the team needs better play from its offensive line and receivers too.
"When we drafted him with (general manager) Rick (Spielman), myself and the scouts all talked about the person that we would select and that was a part of ascertaining if that's the guy that you'd want to take because there are going to days like this, there are going to be games like this, there are to be sometimes even season where you have to be resilient at that position," Frazier said. "You have to be mentally tough. We think he is and he's shown that he is. I think he can handle some of the things that are dished out, but he's going to have big days for us. We know that. He's done that and he'll lead our team to success."
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