Originally posted on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 7/5/13
Signing a quarterback who was a starter last season as your backup quarterback can only mean two things: either there is a chance that guy may take over the starting gig or he is there to push the starter. The Minnesota Vikings is Christian Ponder's team right now, but what is it going to take to start the rumblings for Matt Cassel to take over as the starter?  Ponder's first two seasons have been up and down to say the least. In his rookie year, after taking over for Donovan McNabb in 2011, he threw at least one interception in seven of his eleven games. But, at the same time, he also finished games with a 103.1 and 102.7 quarterback rating.  In 2012, when the job was unquestionably his from day one, he defined inconsistency. He started the season off well, not throwing any interceptions in the first four games, but immediately following the fourth game, he went three weeks straight throwing two interceptions. He then ended the season not throwing an interception in the final three weeks.  So, we know that the talent is there, but he will not remain the starter for long if he continues his inconsistent play, especially considering they have a capable backup waiting in the ranks. What Ponder needs the most work on, though, is his deep ball. We knew when Ponder was drafted that he had trouble with the deep pass, but he has not improved much over the past two seasons. According to NFL.com, Ponder was the only quarterback last season without a touchdown pass beyond 21 plus yards. On top of that, he is only 11 for 70 on pass attempts 21-plus yards throughout his career. So, it's not as if he just struggles with the deep ball. In reality, Ponder is almost incapable of throwing the deep ball accurately.  That is a bit of an awkward fact to come across when you look at who the Vikings have surrounded the deep ball challenged quarterback with. After Percy Harvin skipped town to Seattle, Minnesota signed former rival Greg Jennings to head the receiving corps. Jennings can pretty much run any route, but he is an outside receiver and did a lot of his damage with former quarterback Aaron Rodgers on passes deeper than 21 yards.  Is Jennings going to be able to maintain the same production with Ponder as his quarterback? We all should have assumed there would be some kind of dip since he is without one of the best quarterbacks in the league anymore, but how severe are we talking? With Ponder at quarterback, does that diminish the importance of the Jennings signing? At this point, we don't know the answers to these questions, but all of the answers depend on Ponder's play. When looking down the depth chart of the receiver position, the next two names on the list are Cordarrelle Patterson and Jerome Simpson, who are both most useful in the deep game. The biggest knock on the outrageously athletic Patterson out of the draft was that he is extremely raw and does not have a strong grasp of route running. In college, he generally relied on his speed to get open on fade routes, which Ponder will have a hard time connecting on.  With the right coaching, Patterson could definitely develop into a better route runner, but that will take time, which is something that Ponder does not have. This team is ready to win now and if Ponder cannot get the job done, don't be surprised to see a change.  What helps Ponder is that he has the best running back in the world lining up behind him, but that security blanket will only go so far. With the type of weapons he has around him, the expectations will be that he needs to lead the Vikings to the NFC North title. But the problem is that the majority of the new offensive weapons will not do Ponder very good.  He needs elite tight ends and a slot specialist and then he may be able to be ready to take "the leap." But with the receivers he has right now, it is looking like the front office is setting the young quarterback up to fail.  Who knows? Maybe Ponder will develop the ability to throw the deep ball accurately in his third season. Deep ball accuracy and consistency are the only two things between Ponder and a big contract and if he can mature into a more well-rounded quarterback in his third season, there is no limit to how deep the Vikings can go in the playoffs.  And if that is the case, then all the Matt Cassel signing means is that he holds a clipboard like a champ. Only time will tell.  By: Matt Levine Twitter: @Matt_TFJ

This article first appeared on The Sports Post and was syndicated with permission.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: LeBron a ‘long-shot’ to sign with Lakers, won’t take less than max

Browns GM Dorsey rips team’s previous personnel regime

Sapp lying with explanation for giving co-workers sex toy gifts?

Report: MLB investigating source of Shohei Ohtani medical info leak

Jones cites 'problematic aspects' to NFL disciplinary process

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Le’Veon Bell on playing Patriots: Opportunity is here

Alex Collins wears dark visor to keep migraine headaches at bay

LeBron James skips media before Lakers game to avoid ‘dealing with the silliness’

Ron Rivera: Everyone knew Aaron Rodgers would be back

Alvin Kamara expected to play vs. Jets

Paul George after beating Pacers: Glad circus is over

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

The 'Is there anything Brown can't do for you?' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

Newcomers help Predators get back to 'Smashville' hockey

How Buddy Hield became the NBA's newest sniper

NFL MVP Watch: Antonio Brown enters suddenly wide-open race

The 'To the Victor, go the spoils' quiz

Matt Barnes and the looming end of the NBA's enforcers

25 players to watch in the pre-Christmas bowls

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

The 'Is there anything Brown can't do for you?' quiz

Newcomers help Predators get back to 'Smashville' hockey

How Buddy Hield became the NBA's newest sniper

NFL MVP Watch: Antonio Brown enters suddenly wide-open race

The 'To the Victor, go the spoils' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker