Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder
Well, the good thing about football, especially in the NFL, you have to move on quickly. Watching the filmMonday and Sunday night there were a lot of things that were easily correctable and we’ll get them fixed. We understand that this game is important and we have to play a lot better. Another divisional road game against a great defense and we’re excited to get on the field and play again and get the bad taste out of our mouth.
Q: When you look at the film what stuck out as the problem for the offense?
A: It’s just mistakes that are easily correctable. We’re too good of a team to be making those mistakes. We have to establish the run a little better. We had the first run that was great and then towards the end of the game we were running the ball a little bit better. We have to continue to develop that area and can’t turn the ball over.
Q: Do you have a process of how to go in to the film room, take your medicine then refocus? How does one do that?
A: One does that from the understanding that it’s a necessity. Mondays and Tuesdays its always that transition.Sunday night you get that bad feeling, Monday mornings when you head into the film room you get that bad feeling and as you watch the game you’re like, ‘Aw man, that’s something that was just dumb that could have easily not happened.’ As you watch it there’s a bad taste in your mouth, but at the same time it gives you confidence because these things are easily correctable. After we watch film Monday, right after that we watched Chicago tape. That mindset transitions pretty quickly that it’s time to move on and you get excited that you’re going to be on the field againWednesday to practice and forget about those things.
Q: What are some of the factors why you play well at home and not so well on the road against the division?
A: I don’t know. Road games are tough in general, divisional games which are on the road or at home are tough and when you combine those things it’s tough for an offense. It’s a team you face twice a year so they’re comfortable in what they’re doing against you and their schemes against you and the crowd noise is a big factor. For us, it’s not allowing those factors to affect us. Again, watching that film, Detroit’s a great defense and they’re going to make plays, but a lot of it had to do with what we did to ourselves.
Q: Is it surprising to see the offensive line struggle like they have?
A: The D-line for Detroit is a good squad. They have a lot of talent and they are a force so we knew it would be a challenge for our offensive line. We know that they are motivated and they’re great players and we’re going to get it corrected. There are some things that I could do better, that everyone could do better – the running back, the receivers – and it’s something as an offense we can correct as a whole.
Q: Does Bill Musgrave present the game plan to you, or do you have input before it’s final?
A: On Mondays and Tuesdays, and I guess as the game plan is installed it’s broken up into pieces betweenWednesday, Thursday and Friday. We have the opportunities to provide input on what we see, what we like and Bill listens and he does a great job of that so we do have some sort of input.
Q: When did you feel like the game got away from you?
A: Honestly, that feeling that it got away from me never happened. It’s just a couple bad mistakes, a high ball to Jerome (Simpson) that was unfortunately tipped up and caught. That didn’t hurt us because we got the ball right back, the defense did a great job of creating a turnover. The second interception, just trying to throw the ball away, I have to have better awareness that a guy is bearing down on me. My mindset is first down and I don’t want to take a sack, but ultimately I don’t want to give a turnover. I need to just eat it, take a sack and live to play another day. Third turnover I was stepped on on the lead. I just have to eat that and understand that creating a handoff like that is going to be tough and just eat it and keep the ball in my hands. The fourth turnover I was just trying to create a play on fourth down. We were into it until the very end. We still had time, a couple minutes left at the end of the game to score two touchdowns. We won a game with 14 seconds left. We had to drive 80 yards to get a field goal and we did that. I don’t think a game is really ever out of our hands.
Q: Detroit’s defense seemed to be daring you to go downfield. How can you best exploit that?
A: Well I think the whole year we are going to have defenses that are going to be daring us to throw the football down the field. They are going to stop the run, they are going to play a lot of single-high, a lot of man coverage trying to stop Adrian and as an offense we have to beat man coverage with the receivers and we have to have time to throw it down the field and we’ve got to make plays. We made a couple of explosive plays on Sunday and we’ve got to continue to grow that and continue to expound on that. We have the receivers and the personnel to do it. We know that we have to take pressure off that running game and create plays in the passing game.
Q: How did it come up that Jerome Simpson was the guy on Sunday?
A: He’s a great player and he’s healthy. Last year was unfortunate that he battled that nerve deal and was never fully healthy but now he’s very confident and we see what he can do when he’s ready to go. He’ll continue to do that all year.
Q: Was that by design or did he just happen to be the guy getting open?
A: He was the guy getting open. One of the catches, he was the primary read and he happened to run a good route and got open, but others he’s just getting open. He’s doing a good job.
Q: Do you see a difference in the way defenses are approaching the receivers now that you have Greg Jennings and Jerome is fully healthy?
A: Not really. It was the first game and what we saw was a defense trying to stop the run, playing single-high, playing man coverage, a lot of the same looks we saw last year and we’ll probably keep getting that until we make them pay in the passing game. We had those explosive plays. We saw at one point Detroit started playing more split safety in the middle of the game because we were throwing the football around and started completing passes and that forced them into split coverage and we’ll have to keep doing that.
Q: What do you say to yourself when you come off the field after making a mistake that you’ve made in the past?
A: I don’t think about it. It’s frustrating for a couple of seconds after it happens and then you move on. That’s the necessity of playing the position and you forget about it and you go out there and play like it didn’t happen.
Q: When the offensive line struggles in a game does that change your internal clock of when you have to get rid of the ball?
A: It’s just a feel. It’s that instinct of feeling if a guy got loose or in your vision some guy gets loose and you take off and run. There were a lot of times where we had a ton of time, like that long throw to Jerome, his second long catch, a ton of time back there to create that pass. Every game is going to be different. They have a good D-line so they’re going to get a pass rush and have guys get in the backfield and make plays.
Q: Was that deep ball to Jerome off target?
A: Clearly if a guy is wide open and you’d like to give him the ball and he catches and he scores. He made an unbelievable catch and it could have been a little better ball.
Q: With the offensive line was it communication or technical things?
A: It wasn’t really communication. They ran some stunts and stuff and were able to get guys in the backfield and we’ll do a better job, especially this week. We know Chicago does a lot of stunts and movement upfront. They’re going to have to pass some things off and do a great job of that and they will. They’re an offensive line that has played together for many games and they’re experienced so I know they’re going to handle it.
Q: Did you feel the absence of Jerome Felton in the backfield?
A: Not really. Jerome is a great player, obviously a Pro Bowler, and we’ll be excited when he gets back but I think Rhett (Ellison) and Zach (Line) did a good job of getting in there and playing.
Q: How much emphasis did you hear in the offseason of trying to stay in the pocket and step up to throw?
A: It’s something that I understood that I had to work on and just watching film of myself that that was something that I could get better at. I feel like I’ve done a better job of stepping up and moving around in the pocket and that’s something that I’ll continue to try to work on.