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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Christian Ponder was terrible against eight-man fronts on Sunday

The Minnesota Vikings couldn’t have asked for a better start offensively to Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions.

Adrian Peterson busts loose for a 78-yard touchdown run, and the Lions respond by selling out for the next two quarters to stop him (in fact, Peterson actually gained negative yardage over his next 10 or so carries).

Nothing loosens up a downfield passing attack like the defense stacking eight (or more) men in the box to stop the running back, and that’s exactly what the Lions did on 36% of the Vikings’ offensive snaps according to ESPN Stats & Info (via Kevin Seifert).

But instead of making the Lions pay for selling out against the run, Christian Ponder threw two interceptions against eight-man fronts and posted a 0.4 QBR (QBR is ESPN’s advanced passer rating that uses a 0-100 scale).

The rest of the NFL – which, on average, faced eight men in the box less than 10% of the time – combined for five touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 51.1 QBR.

In other words, NFL quarterbacks threw two interceptions against eight-man fronts this week – and it was Ponder who threw both of them.

Ponder did take advantage of a stacked box on a couple occasions – most notably on the long completion to Jerome Simpson. But one could make a strong argument he should have hit Simpson in stride for a touchdown on that play.

The offensive line could have been better. The Vikings’ defense certainly could have played a lot better.

But it’s alarming when a defense dares the Vikings to throw the ball downfield, and Ponder doesn’t make them pay.

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