Aug 17, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) is tackled by Buffalo Bills defensive end Mark Anderson (93) during the first quarter at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Why The Jags Will Stomp The Vikes

It’s not that I don’t like the Vikings, but after years of watching them try in vain to supplant the Packers, Bears, and even the (lowly) Lions I realized something: there is something wrong with the organization as a whole.

It’s rare for a franchise to go to four superbowls and lose them all.  It’s rare to have a perfect kicker miss in the NFC Championship.  It’s rare for a team to have a great roster, good coaches, and yet still seemed destined to fail.  And those are the good Minnesota teams.

The 2012 Minnesota Vikings are not a good team.  In fact, if it wasn’t for Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson I sincerely doubt they would even be able to win a game.  If you’re reading the national media then you’ll hear a similar prognosis for the Jaguars, only instead of a pass rushing defensive end they only have Maurice Jones-Drew – and he’s not starting this game.

If you watched the Jags preseason you know they have some secondary issues.  The depth that was anticipated at the end of last season and during the offseason appears to have deteriorated beneath the feat of the team.  Fortunately for the Jags, the linebackers and front four are very good.  They may not get sacks, but they know what they’re doing.

For the Vikings, the secondary is equally weak.  Further, if they couldn’t rush the passer their defense would be considered all together lackluster.  I like some pieces for the Vikes, but they are far less complete than the Jags.

So, why will the Jags stomp the Vikings?  Because when we get down to it, it comes down to two second-year quarterbacks: Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder.

I’ve made the comparisons before, but in case you missed it, here are the stat lines for the two quarterbacks as rookies:

Starts Breakdown CMP% TD INT
Blaine Gabbert 14 4–10 50.4 12 11
Christian Ponder 10 2–8 54.3 13 13

Sure, Ponder threw for a whopping 3.9% better completion rate. Sure, Ponder threw for more touchdowns in less games.  But that’s about the best shake that Ponder got.  His team only won 20% of the games he started, he threw more than one interception per game, and he looked lost.

Gabbert doesn’t have beautiful numbers by measure, but he does have something that Ponder didn’t last year: the ability to protect the football.  Despite constant pressure (40 sacks in 2011), Gabbert knew when to unload the ball, take sacks (maybe a few too many), and played it safe.  He rarely displayed his strong arm, but as a rookie who was forced into starting duties I won’t hold that against him.  The Jags won 28% of the games Gabbert started, he did not throw an interception regularly, but he also looked lost on the field.

THAT is a quarterback in control of his offense.  Source: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Fast forward to the 2012 preseason.

Gabbert no longer looks like the lost rookie he was a year ago.  He looks in control of his offense, is identifying coverages, and he understands what to do in certain situations which makes him considerably more calm than he was a year ago.  Gabbert has taken control of the Jags in Maurice Jones-Drew’s absence and looks to lead the team for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, up Nord in Minnesota there, Ponder has looked less polished.  Not that he hasn’t improved, but he is not make the strides that Gabbert has displayed thus far.  Even with Adrian Peterson sidelined and recovering from injury, Ponder is not the leader of the offense that I’m certain the front office desired.  While he has looked sharp against the Bills, his only touchdown pass came in that game and it has looked like the defense dictates his play more than he dictates the play of the defense.

The Vikings/Jags game may well come down to two second-year quarterbacks still struggling to get their feet under them.  My money is on the guy in Black and Teal.

- Luke N. Sims

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Tags: Blaine Gabbert Christian Ponder Jacksonville Jaguars Minnesota Vikings

  • hoonu

    What an Homer Idiot! A defense that led league in sacks,against the scariest QB in the league last year?The White Rhino(Gerhart)and an intellegent and much improved Ponder against this defense?You’re dreaming!Oh,by the way,you’ve “spent “years”watching them try in vain to surplant the Packers,Bears, and even the lowly Lions”.It was only 2 and a half years ago the Vikings lost the NFC Championship in OT.Don’t let what you WANT to happen interfere with your reasoning.

    • LukeNSims

      I have spent years watching them because I grew up in Minnesota and still frequently watch them when visiting family. You’re right about the NFC Championship game, but Brett Favre was a last-ditch attempt by Brad Childress to remain relevant. I note you didn’t cite the need for them to acquire outside talent because homegrown talent is rare in Minnesota. Steve Hutchinson from Seattle, Jared Allen from Kansas City, Favre from the Packers, Darren Sharper from the Packers….Cris Carter wasn’t even drafted by the Vikings.

      As good as the Vikings occasionally are, they consistently fall short to division opponents and lose in the big moments. I don’t have faith front office or ownership and never have.

  • hoonu

    Every team acquires outside talent.I’m from Texas where football is cherished,and there are very few players that are homegrown on the Cowboys.How many Floridians actually play for the Jags?With Rick Spielman now in charge of player personnel,I have faith and suspect you soon will.Starting this Sunday,when the Vikings STOMP the Jags!!! P.S. Sorry about the “idiot”remark.Just got a little irritated being a lifelong fan.

    • LukeNSims

      Hahaha! No worries man, I remember getting so frustrated at JACK FM a couple years ago when they said, “and for the 32nd year in a row the Vikings will NOT be playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday…” I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

  • Paul

    Going 4 for 14 as a starter is not winning 40% of the games…it’s roughly 28% which isn’t that much better than Ponders 20%

    • LukeNSims

      I knew I went into public administration and not math for a reason! Corrected to 28% and 20% respectively.

  • Jake

    So you compared two QB’s who were equally bad last year and then determined all on your own that Gabbert is somehow further along than Ponder and for this reason alone the Jags will beat the Vikes? This is a pretty weak, ridiculous and obviously biased assessment. Both teams are likely to be equally bad this year but if you want to get down to it the Vikes defense and run game is better than that of the Jags. If I had to bet I would bet on the Vikes but really both of these teams are roughly on the same level and it could go either way. Try to leave your fan-boy bias out of your pre-game workups.

    • LukeNSims

      I appreciate the comment, but I’ll stand to defend my argument further:
      1) This is a fan site, expect bias. 2) Our pre-game workup comes later and is written by Zoltan Paksa, he has some superb insight and is will do assessment in a more unbiased manner. 3) Gabbert threw more touchdowns in the preseason than Ponder and looked more in control – that is an assessment made based on watching the games, not simply fanboy talk. 4) The Vikings defense is not better than the Jags. They get more sacks, yes, but they ranked 31st in points allowed (449) and 21st in yards allowed (5731) while the Jags ranked 11th (329) and 6th (5008), respectively, in 2011. Returning the majority of the starters and improving the second DE position should lead to similar results from 2011, I worry they may fall lower but I doubt they will give up 100+ more points to equal the lower level of play that the Vikings had. 5) The Jaguars won more games, in large part due to opportunistic play on defense. That is something that I did not see regularly from the Vikings last season and do not anticipate change this season. 6) The Vikings run game was superior but they also had a more respected quarterback in Donovan McNabb (until he proved terrible) to start the season and did not see the 8-9 men in the box that the Jags running game saw. The run game commanded more respect by the Jags by virtue of having a poor passing attack. With a Gabbert who looks more in control and Justin Blackmon being a real receiver, expect less men in the box and more production per attempt. Meanwhile, the Vikings big offseason WR (Simpson) is suspended and Ponder does not look to have made serious strides.
      I apologize for not going into more detail, but based on the foundation laid now I think that you will see my opinion is less “fanboy” and more fair extrapolation based upon reasonable development and past results.

      TL,DR – I backed up my claims with reasonable extrapolation and not being a fanboy.

      • Jake

        I get that this is a fan site but when a person clicks on a story to read a published article they expect some insight into the subject. You’re using stats from last year to explain the Vikes secondary, almost the entire secondary is new from last season so none of those stats matter. The things any team or player does in the preseason must be taken with a grain of salt. It’s great that Gabbert showed some poise in the preseason but its PRESEASON. Teams may play their first stringers but they don’t play their regular season play books. Success in the preseason is a good sign but it is by no means a guarantee of success in the regular season. And if you want to go by that logic Ponder has looked pretty good in the preseason as well. During Manning’s time in Indy the Colts regularly went 0-4 in preseason yet were great in the real season. And to say that the Vikings and Adrian Peterson didn’t face 8 man defensive sets with McNabb at the helm is crazy. Every team in the NFL knows AP is their biggest threat. The fact is preseason is never a good gauge of success and the Vikings have had so much roster turnover this offseason that stats from last year don’t mean a thing, unless you want to talk about the D-line and in that case the Vikes win that argument against the Jags any day of the week.

        • LukeNSims

          It is preseason I agree. It was a good point about secondary updates, but I don’t know how much that will really change them. We’ll see how it goes on Sunday.

  • jagsuck

    How did this article turn out? I believe the Vikings won the game you F***ing idiot.

  • Daddy Sims

    Whoever wrote this atricle has a tiny little boy boner for the craptastic jags. What a loser.

  • Tim Shannon

    Well…hindsight is 20/20. But I wouldn’t quit your day job. Also, from a historical standpoint, the Vikings have the best overall record in the NFC North.