Expect Green Bay To Test Ponder By Bringing Pressure

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 20, 2011 – 3:25 pm

During their Super Bowl-winning season in 2010 and through the first 6 games of the 2011 season, the Green Bay Packers have not struggled in pressuring opposing QBs. They ranked tied for 2nd in the NFL with 47 sacks last season and so far this season they have 15 sacks.

On Sunday, you can expect their ambitious, QB-chasing attitude on defense to kick up a notch. When defenses rush 5 or more defenders at the QB, it’s called bringing pressure. Defenses salivate at the opportunity to pressure inexperienced, young QBs, and that’s exactly the type of QB the Vikings will start on Sunday. Rookie Christian Ponder is making his first start, and the Vikings are certainly preparing for a pressure-happy Packers defense.

Vikings Head Coach will lean on his experience as an NFL defensive coordinator in providing input on how to prepare Ponder for his first career start.

“We always thought that we were going to see how they responded to pressure,” Frazier said when asked how he prepared for rookie QBs as a defensive coordinator. “That was the big thing, was to see how they responded with people in their face.

“I would imagine it’ll be the same way (on Sunday). He’s going to see a lot of different looks, he’ll see some pressures early, just to see how he responds. That’s the way we usually approach it, just to find out where he was mentally.”

Ponder provided a glimpse into how he might be handle pressure in last Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Bears. On a 4th and 10, the Bears pressured with LB Lance Briggs, who rushed through the A gap. He made it into the backfield unblocked, which forced Ponder to unload the pass early. Ponder threw a pass to the outside shoulder of TE Visanthe Shiancoe, which was the perfect spot because it prevented LB Brian Urlacher from making a play on the ball.

Those could be the kinds of plays Ponder is going to have to make on Sunday if the Packers get pressure happy and continuously send 5+ rushers.

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Musgrave: No Need To “Put The Brakes On” With Ponder As Starter

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 20, 2011 – 12:25 pm

The Vikings have made a change at the QB position, but that doesn’t mean the offense is going back to the drawing board. Although Sunday will be rookie Christian Ponder’s first NFL start, Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave doesn’t expect to scale back any game-planning tasks.

“We feel like we can go forward with a full complement of volume,” Musgrave said on Thursday. “We want to expand each and every week, and continue to be tough to defend. But we don’t feel like we need to put the brakes on in any regard.”

There have been flashes through the first 6 games of the 2011 season of how Musgrave’s offense can produce when executed properly, but the Vikings haven’t been able to string together 4 quarters of solid play. With a new QB at the helm, it’s certainly reasonable to anticipate an uptick in production.

Prior to being named the new starting QB, Ponder was the Vikings backup and took the majority of scout team reps, along with any 1st-team reps the coaching staff felt Donovan McNabb didn’t need. That, Musgrave says, has helped Ponder to a certain extent. On Wednesday, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier told reporters that he’s seen Ponder make significant strides since the beginning of training camp, and Musgrave agreed.

“He’s done a good job of running the opposing team’s offense off the cards,” Musgrave said. “While a lot of us (teams) have similar concepts throughout the League, he got some time on task with certain routes and concepts that we employ. So it was good for him to get out there a little bit, even though it was off of a card.”

But Musgrave also acknowledged that there’s nothing like real-time playing experience.

As for splitting up practice reps now, Musgrave says Ponder will take as many as the coaching staff can get him.

“With Christian, we’re going to try to give him as many as we can to make up for lost time,” Musgrave said. “And then as we move through the season, we may scale that back a little bit just to keep his legs and arms fresh just to prepare for each Sunday.”

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Vikings Pleased With Wednesday’s Stadium Discussions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 20, 2011 – 6:51 am

Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf was in town on Wednesday and met with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. It’s been a busy week on the stadium front and the meeting between Wilf and Governor Dayton on Wednesday was the latest step of progress made on the stadium issue.

On Tuesday, NFL representatives met with the Governor and with State Lawmakers, a meeting that followed an announcement of intent to call a special session by Governor Dayton on Monday. By no means is the stadium issue approaching the finish line, but there’s no denying the progress that’s being made. The Vikings are grateful to Governor Dayton and other key state leaders who’ve taken leadership and moved the discussion forward.

Here is a statement released by the Vikings late Wednesday afternoon regarding the meeting between Governor Dayton and Mr. Wilf.

“The Vikings and Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf are very pleased with today’s discussion with Governor Dayton. We are appreciative of the Governor’s willingness to move the issue forward this fall and the interest by legislative leaders to work collaboratively with all parties toward a final solution.

 As we knew the Governor would be making a statement to the media this afternoon following the conclusion of his various stadium-related meetings, we felt we should withhold comment, out of respect to the Governor, until he spoke to the media first.  

 Today’s constructive conversation was a continuation of several positive stadium developments in the last few days. The Vikings are committed to doing whatever we can, along with our local partner Ramsey County, the Legislature, Governor, our fans and the citizens of Minnesota to finalize a viable stadium proposal and begin construction as quickly as possible.”

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NFL VP Grubman Worried About “Stalemate,” Hopeful Vikings Remain In MN

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 20, 2011 – 6:25 am

It’s a big week for the Vikings on the field, with 1st-round pick QB Christian Ponder set to start his first career game and with the Green Bay Packers coming to town. But it’s been a big week off the field for the Vikings, too, as the stadium issue in Minnesota has come to the forefront.

The stadium issue in Minnesota is not just at the forefront of the Vikings perspective, either. Governor Mark Dayton has made the issue a priority this week, as have state lawmakers. And in yet another illustration of how important relevant and current this issue is, the NFL has gotten in on the act, too.

On Tuesday, NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman headed a group of League representatives who visited the Twin Cities in an effort to assess the stadium issue in Minnesota. According to Grubman, the mission was to get a status update on the progress of a new stadium for the Vikings and then to report their findings to the NFL’s finance and stadium committees. Grubman also brought some good news with him, saying that the NFL believes a funding mechanism will be available for the Vikings and the State of Minnesota to help finance a stadium project.

Grubman met with reporters after meeting with Governor Dayton and Minnesota Legislators, and he had a couple of key messages. Grubman made it very clear that the NFL’s visit to Minnesota was not to provide a directive to State leaders, rather it was to gain a better understanding of the current status of a stadium project. But Grubman was also asked about the Vikings future in Minnesota, specifically he was asked if there’s a realistic chance of the Vikings moving out of Minnesota if resolution to the stadium issue is not reached in a timely manner.

“It’s really not for me to speculate about the possibility,” Grubman said. “All I’ll say is this: we’re worried about a stalemate. And a stalemate means there’s no lease, or the lease is about to expire. There’s no plan for a stadium, and there’s an alternative plan in another city. That’s a stalemate, and the alternative wouldn’t include Minnesota.

“That is, in the way we look at it, a crisis. It’s the Minnesota Vikings, and we’re here to work on the Minnesota Vikings, not some other Vikings or some other franchise. Our job is to make sure that doesn’t happen, to make sure that every possible step is taken to give the Vikings a great chance to succeed in this market.”

Grubman went on to explain that it’s not uncommon for the NFL to visit a certain city or market to assess the progress on stadium plans. Their presence “could run the gamut from an early fact-finding mission to a serious assessment,” Grubman said. But he made it clear that the NFL views the stadium situation in Minnesota as a high priority at this time.

Asked how the NFL would respond to taxpayers’ resiliency to fund stadium projects for NFL clubs in the current economic climate, Grubman acknowledged that man fans all across the country are enduring tough economic times. He even pointed members of his family who are just now entering the workforce and are finding difficulty in hitting the ground running.

“But I also know that great cities are defined by the great institutions that they support,” Grubman said. “And the great institutions are a variety of things. People are attracted to cities not for the traffic jams. They’re attracted to cities because of the great things in those cities, and those are not just their day jobs. They’re attracted for the arts, the performing arts. They’re attracted for museums. They’re attracted for sports franchises.

“You have to decide what puts your city on the map, you’re state on the map, in the way you want it to be on the map. And that doesn’t just mean the Minnesota map. You’re in a competitive environment for companies to locate, for people to locate, for goods to be bought and sold. And so that decision is really for Minnesotans, it’s not for us. We respect the choices that Legislators and citizens have to make, and we hope that choice includes the Vikings here.”

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