Insider: Vikings Start Christian Ponder
In today’s NFL Notebook, we discuss the quarterback changes in Minnesota and Washington, what’s wrong with the New York Jets and the other deadline deals that occurred at yesterday’s deadline.
Quarterback Changes in Minnesota and Washington
As correctly suggested by ESPNFlorida.com, the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins are making changes at quarterback this week. Vikings rookie and former FSU star Christian Ponder will make his first start this Sunday when Minnesota takes on the undefeated, Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, according to NFL.com’s Jason LaCanfora.
“You don’t want to have to be, week eight or nine, flip-flopping quarterbacks,” Frazier said Monday prior to making the decision. “So once the decision is made, if we were to decide to go to Christian, you’d like to be able to decide this is the way to go. But you don’t want to be, in my mind, going back and forth.”
At 1-5, Minnesota simply had nothing to lose by making the switch and they are hopeful that Ponder can give the team some sort of spark in a game which they appear to be heavily overmatched. Along with a “spark factor,” the Vikings will be giving their fans what they want and getting the future started right away.
The bad news for Ponder and the Vikes is that Green Bay seems disappointed and focused despite their fast start.
“We’re 6-0,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, whose Packers have equaled the 12-game win streak by Vince Lombardi’s teams in 1961-62 said. “We’ve put good numbers up, but we have to get better. You have to be running on all cylinders and we’re not there, yet. Yes, we put up big numbers, but we’re not at the level we feel we can be at.”
Meanwhile in Washington Mike Shanahan has decided to switch from the up-and-down, greatness or horrifying styling’s of Rex Grossman to the unknown John Beck, according to ESPN.
It was inevitable that Grossman would lose his job following his four interception performance that yielded the Eagles just their second victory of the season. Grossman had the lowest quarterback rating of any starting quarterback in the NFL at 66.5.
So what are the Redskins getting in Beck?
The best thing we can say about John Beck is that he’s not Rex Grossman. After being selected in the second round by Miami in 2007, Beck played in just five games as a Dolphin before being waived mostly thanks to a change in regime. After backing up in the Beltway Area in Baltimore and then Washington over the past two seasons, Beck appears ready to take his shot as the starter.
“I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be,” Beck said before the season in a Sirius radio interview. “I feel like the opportunity I have to play for Coach Shanahan, to play for the Washington Redskins right now, 2011 season, is the best opportunity I could ask for, regardless of what happened in my past.”
With Redskins leading receiver Santana Moss speaking out against Beck and for Rex Grossman earlier this week, Beck will have his hands full. His weapons on the outside inlcude Moss who thinks he shouldn’t have the job, rookies Leonard Hankerson and Niles Paul who are yet to catch their first pass, Jabar Gaffney who can be timed with an sundial and Donte Stallworth who has exactly one more DUI Manslaughter conviction than touchdown this season.
Good luck John.
Pounded and Grounded
According to the New York Jets, they are the best team in football. I know this because their coach told me so before the season.
“We are going to go to the Super Bowl and we’re going to win it,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan said consistently whenever their was a microphone in front of him before the season.
This New York Jets Super Bowl story may end up becoming one of the best of all time because through six games they look nothing like a playoff team. Their signature victory of 2011 came due to a Tony Romo fourth period meltdown in which the currently 2-3 Dallas Cowboys looked like the superior club. The Jets other two victories? Against Jacksonville and Miami who’ve combined for a 1-10 record.
“Well, I think we can beat a good team. I think Dallas is a good team, Jacksonville clearly has had its struggles. I think Miami is much better than their record. They’re 0-5 or whatever, but they have some good players on that team,” Ryan stated in his Tuesday conference call.
Where did the physical play go for New York? The “Ground and Pound” philosophy currently features the league’s 31st ranked rushing attack averaging just 80.8 yards on the ground per game. Defensively New York is allowing 132 rushing yards per game, good for 28th in the NFL. New York is getting pounded at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.
“This line has taken us to the AFC Championship game two years in a row, and that’s it,” Ryan said defiantly. “When you look at this team when we took it over, the big thing was going to be if we can run the ball and protect the quarterback, we’ll have an excellent offense, and those are the things we talk about.”
At 3-3, the New York Jets are tied for the ninth best record in the AFC. There are still 10 games to play but this team seems to be missing the swagger that it had in years past. The offensive line isn’t as good, they can’t stop the run, quarterback Mark Sanchez has seemed to regress, one running back is in his 30’s and the younger back runs like he’s in his 50’s and there are wide receivers criticizing the play calling. If New York loses to visiting San Diego this Sunday the Jets will have a very steep climb to getting back into playoff consideration in the AFC.
The Other Deadline Deal
Although the Carson Palmer to Oakland Raiders deal received the bulk of the NFL’s attention and rightfully so, that wasn’t the only deal to go down on “Deadline Tuesday”. The Philadelphia Eagles sent “Dream Team” member, former Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown to the Detroit Lions for running back Jerome Harrison and a seventh-round pick.
The 29-year old back played sparingly in Philadelphia, only toting the rock 13 times for 38 yards in their six games. Detroit, needing a bigger back to go along with the explosive Jahvid Best acquired Brown in the hopes that he can first and foremost stay healthy, and then give them some solid goal line carries.
Brown, formerly the second-overall pick in the 2005 draft has been plagued by injuries his entire career as he missed 20 games over his first five seasons in Miami. Playing in a two-back system along with Ricky Williams, Brown’s most productive year came in 2008 when he rushed for 914 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Another minor move included the Miami Dolphins signing journeyman safety Gerald Alexander. The fifth-year pro from Boise State has spent time with the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers. Alexander is a solid tackler but lacks big play abilities.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlieInsider: Vikings Start Christian Ponder by Sports Talk Florida