— Christian Ponder's up-and-down performance in his first full season as the Vikings starting quarterback has draped plenty of criticism on his shoulders from the team's demanding fans.
It hasn't done a thing to shake the organization's confidence that Ponder will lead the Vikings back to relevance in the NFC North.
"I know everybody in this organization believes Christian Ponder is our guy," Vikings GM Rick Spielman said on Wednesday. "And I have full, 100 percent belief that Christian Ponder's going to be our quarterback heading into the future."
That's an emphatic vote of confidence for the 2011 first-round draft choice who at times appeared to be a rising star with complete command of the offense and pin-point accuracy. Other times, Ponder looked like an overwhelmed youngster with happy feet and a propensity for making risky throws.
Ponder was among the league leaders in completion percentage, with six touchdowns and two interceptions, to help the Vikings to a surprising 4-1 start. But they lost three of the next four games, and he threw six interceptions and twice failed to top 65 yards passing in that span. It culminated with star receiver Percy Harvin venting his frustration on the sideline in a loss to Seattle in which Ponder threw for just 63 yards.
He rebounded last week, completing 24 of 32 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Detroit that got Minnesota to 6-4 heading into the bye week.
The peaks and valleys may be difficult for the breathless fan to handle, but it's exactly what Spielman expected when he drafted Ponder last year. Spielman said he wrote down a series of statistics at the beginning of the season that he felt Ponder would produce this year, based upon the second year of several elite quarterbacks. While not getting specific, he intimated that Ponder is right on that track.