Last week, after the Seattle game, we first introduced a comprehensive quarterback rating system, which would reveals a great deal about both our team and how well our quarterback (see weighted quarterback rating) Christian Ponder stacked up against the competition. So, what did this new system reveal.
The first thing that this new system reveals was that our defense played an outstanding football game. In Detroit's 13 overall drives, we held them to "3 & out" on seven occasions and also recorded 1 series with only 1 first down. This outstanding play forced Detroit's defense back onto the field almost immediately with very short rest periods. In other words, in time, our offense would be facing a depleted Detroit defense as the game rolled on. Excellent! What resulted was a ram-rod-ing marauder by the name of Adrian Peterson running wild in the 4th quarter. It is unfortunate but the defense cannot be expected to do this week after week so, to Super Charge AD, another method must be used.
It also revealed outstanding special team play. Every Detroit drive began on their side of the field, with four starts inside the 20 and seven drives beginning at the 20 yard line. Whomever drafted Walsh is a genius.
A look at the NFL Quarterback Ratings revealed that Ponder was actually rated higher than Mathew Stafford at 118.81 versus 104.17. Using the NFL quarterback rating alone, both QB's did very well on Sunday. Keep in mind that all the tragically flawed NFL rating tells you is attempts, completions, total yards, interceptions, and passing touchdowns. The NFL rating does not provide a comprehensive quarterback rating that would reveal the efficiency of each quarterback. Based upon both Red Zone Efficiency and Drive efficiency when weighted with the NFL quarterback rating Christian Ponder scored out at 86.3, much better than his 52.3 performance against Seattle, whereas Mathew Stafford rated at 229.1, a factor of 2.65 times that of Ponder. In other words, don't cash in your Christmas bonds just yet.
Ponder still had five (5) "3 & out" drives and four (4) drives resulting in 1 first down only. That's nine (9) substandard drives. In other words, Ponder's Drive Efficiencies are still a major concern, with Red Flags popping everywhere, especially knowing that we are going on the road and will be playing outdoors within the division. Ponder squandered Chad Greenway's interception that turned the ball over at the Lions 25 yard line on Drive #2. Although we did record a field goal, we didn't record either a first down nor did we get the ball into the Red Zone. We also only recorded a field goal on the Fumble that gave us the ball on the Lions 45 yard line, although we did push that puppy into the Red Zone. All of these items are major red flags going forward as they are wasted prime opportunities ... the type of opportunities that brings championships. "Yeah! I'm ok! I can get up. I just need to get this knife out of my side." It's never been about winning the game ... it's about winning every game, or at least the games that you cannot afford to lose (NFC Championship & Super Bowl's). Allow me to put this another way, you don't want an engineer that averaged 60% in college to be the one that designed the bridge that you just drove over. Get the picture.
Of special interest is that the above comprehensive rating does reveal that although Christian Ponder may not have either the instinct or the talent to be an elite quarterback, he is in fact a very smart customer. He clearly understands the concept of being rewarded for Drive Efficiency & Red Zone efficiency by using his run game rather than by relying solely upon his erratic & deficient passing skills. Just because we won ... it doesn't change that ... as we play Detroit only two (2) times a year not sixteen (16). Based upon the stats recorded above, the Lions were only one dimensional recording 18 first downs on Stafford's Arm alone. Don't expect either Green Bay or Chicago to make that same mistake. In other words, to be successful on the road, our defense needs to default to shutting down the run first, as a delayed zone blitz, more often than not, is more effective than charging into a wall. On the other hand the Vikings recorded seven (7) first downs by running and seven (7) by passing. Since the new factors of the comprehensive rating rewards the quarterback based upon the results of both the Red Zone & his Drive Efficiencies, the quarterback maybe have less interest imparting himself by forcing the poor odds of a passing game where is doesn't belong. Again, with the NFL quarterback rating alone ... there is no understanding in why the quarterback & the team just lost.
To put this distinction clearly into perspective, in watching the Bears and Texans play on Sunday night, all you need to do is watch Jake Cutler. On first down, the Bears ran the ball securing 2 yards. The look on Cutler's face was, "Really, 2 yards ... I could have had a better result if they'd just let me pass the ball". Then he'd throw the ball with little success in the inclement weather with little or no effect. Then he'd pout. Shades of Dan Marino and his overwhelming dominance over the offense. In other words, looking at Cutler's wonderful self peering at his numbers alone, he's never lost a game nor will he ever lose a game. At least that's how it goes in his head. In other words, when you think of Dan Marino or John Elway for the first 85% of his career, you knew something was very wrong but you couldn't put your finger on it ... now you can.
In short, when a team is dominated by their quarterback they can lose the game even if they have a superior NFL quarterback rating as the rating itself tells you nothing of the quarterbacks efficiency. All it does is provide a quarterback a prop, a crutch if you will, so that they can point to someone else when the team fails. Using this new system, there is no way to redirect the spot light.
Oh yeah! I may have forgotten the most important point of all. As a Viking fan, when you think of Joe Webb, once again you know something is seriously wrong. In other words your bull crap indicator that you wear on your sleeve is bleeping its head off, but you don't know why. Well if you'd apply this new system, what you'd find out is that Joe Webb is a top five (5) quarterback in this league and with the proper backing he just might be the greatest to have ever played the game. There is just this one ugly question that either needs to be answered or it can be redirected ... deflected if you will ... with a simple decision ... that in time must be made. This goes well beyond the axiom that everyone loves the back up quarterback. Really ... I didn't. In fact the only back up quarterback that I had a true affection for is Christian Ponder as he just might be the best in the league.
The Viking Ghost Writer
Date: November 14, 2012