EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It contributed to the Minnesota Vikings' change of plans at quarterback in 2014. At some point in the last year, we've probably all thought it. And on Wednesday afternoon, Adrian Peterson said it.
In a conference call with Denver reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Peterson was discussing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's progress during his second year as the Vikings' starting quarterback, and offered this as part of his response: "I can say this: If Christian Ponder had that same poise he would probably still be here playing," Peterson said. “So, that’s how big I feel like it is at the quarterback position."
Peterson, who helped engineer the Vikings' last trip to the playoffs by running for 2,097 yards with Ponder as the quarterback in 2012, was generally supportive of Ponder during his 2½ years as the Vikings' starter. But by 2013, as Ponder struggled during the Vikings' 0-3 start, the frustration of Peterson and others was becoming more evident. Peterson and Greg Jennings complimented Matt Cassel's poise in the huddle before the Vikings' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, while Ponder was trying to recover from a broken rib. And when he was asked, following the Vikings' win over the Steelers at Wembley Stadium, whom he wanted to be the starting quarterback when the Vikings returned from London, Peterson grinned and said, "What you think?"
There's an argument to be made that Ponder's mobility and arm strength was at least on par with Bridgewater's, but his troubles handling pressure proved to be his bugaboo in Minnesota. Before the Vikings drafted Bridgewater, they did a detailed study of the 2014 quarterback class, and put Bridgewater near the top of their board after seeing his success against the blitz and his self-assuredness at Louisville. However intelligent and physically competent he might have been, Ponder always seemed to get rattled by pressure, taking off at the first sign of a pass rush rather than being able to move in the pocket and find a receiver.
While Bridgewater still has plenty to learn as a second-year quarterback, he's already shown himself to be ahead of Ponder in that regard. Peterson has clearly noticed, and said as much on Wednesday.
"That’s something that [Bridgewater] has, he’s very competitive," Peterson said. "He doesn’t get down on himself too much. He knows that, 'Hey, you have to go to the next play and keep looking forward and not dwell.' Got to have a short memory when you’re playing the quarterback position.’’