Is Ponder still the Vikings future? 19 Dec 11

After six consecutive losses, the Vikings (2-12) need to beat the Redskins in Washington and the Bears at home just to finish ahead of Les Steckel’s infamous 3-13 team of 1984.

But on an, um, positive note, the team did move a game closer to getting the No. 1 overall draft pick. Sunday’s 42-20 loss to the Saints at Mall of America Field, coupled with the Colts’ win over Tennessee means the Vikings are at least in the hunt for the No. 1 pick along with the Colts (1-13) and Rams (2-12).

The Colts finish with the Texans at home and the Jaguars on the road. The Rams go to Pittsburgh before returning home to face the 49ers. In the case of a tie, the Vikings would have a hard time getting the No. 1 pick since their strength of schedule might be too strong because of their place in the NFC North.

The Vikings would welcome the No. 1 pick – as embarrassing as it would be – but would settle for the second pick, which would virtually guarantee them of getting Southern Cal left tackle Matt Kalil.

At that spot in the draft, left tackle would be the team’s top priority. If the Vikings somehow end up with the No. 1 overall pick, that’s when things could get interesting.

The team selected Christian Ponder 12th overall this season and the consensus No. 1 pick is considered to be Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

The Vikings are high on Ponder. However, he has not played to a level that slams the door on speculation about whether the team would pick Luck. Ponder is 1-7 as a starter, albeit with a weak supporting cast at receiver and offensive line, and was benched during a horrendous outing in Detroit.

Coach Leslie Frazier was asked whether he was still certain that Ponder is the quarterback of the future. Rather than expressing blind faith in him, Frazier talked about having the opportunity to evaluate him for two more games.

“We have two games left, so I want to continue to watch him play and understand that we still have to get some pieces around him,” Frazier said after Sunday’s 42-20 loss to the Saints. “He has done some good things along the way. He has struggled the last few ballgames. But we have two more games, so there is more time for him to continue to improve and to get some work.”

One more loss at Washington would set the record for consecutive losses in a season and match the 1984 team’s mark for losses in a season.

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NFL Team Report – Minnesota Vikings – NOTES, QUOTES

TRENDING: The Vikings head to Washington having gone nine games without an interception. That’s a league record since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Since their last interception, the Vikings have given up 2,447 yards and 25 touchdowns passing.

UNDER THE RADAR: Defensive end Everson Griffen has become an intriguing young player to keep an eye on. The Vikings introduced a three-man front as part of their nickel defense packages. Griffen, a 6-3, 273-pounder with 4.6 speed, plays linebacker in the package. He had a nice pass deflection in tight coverage on tight end Jimmy Graham in Sunday’s loss.

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NFL Team Report – Minnesota Vikings – STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

–CB Cedric Griffin finally lost his starting job after struggling all season to return to form from a torn ACL in both knees the past two seasons. Griffin stood on the sideline with a towel over his head for most of the game. He didn’t even play when starting corner Asher Allen left the game with a concussion midway through the first quarter.

–CB Benny Sapp didn’t start, but was on the field later on in the first series. Frazier said it was because of disciplinary reasons. CB Marcus Sherels and rookie Brandon Burton got the start in the nickel, along with Allen.

–DE Jared Allen had some excellent pass rushes, but couldn’t catch the elusive Drew Brees on Sunday. Allen has 17.5 sacks, meaning he needs 5.5 in the final two games to break Michael Strahan’s NFL record.

–RB Adrian Peterson, who missed the previous three games because of a high left ankle sprain, returned on Sunday. But he had only 10 carries, including just six when the Vikings trailed 21-13 at halftime. Peterson had 60 yards, including a 39-yarder.

–RB Toby Gerhart tied a team record for running backs with two touchdown receptions on Sunday. It was the 13th time that a Vikings running back has caught two touchdown passes in a game. Gerhart has three TD catches on the season.