Everyone knows it’s important for an offense to convert 3rd downs. But what’s the key for an offense to register a high 3rd-down conversion rate? A good possession receiver would help. A versatile RB coming out of the backfield would be good, too.
But the real key to converting 3rd downs is to be good on 1st and 2nd down. Vikings QB Christian Ponder subscribes to that theory, anyway, which is why he and the Vikings offensive staff have put an increased focus on performing well on 1st and 2nd down. During a press conference over the offseason, Ponder stated that the offense had a goal of completing 75% of their passes on 1st and 2nd down. Then last week Ponder reiterated the goal to Mark Craig the Star Tribune.
“We want 75 percent completions on first and second downs,” the 2nd-year QB said. “That’s the number we’re shooting for. Obviously, we were in a lot of third-and-long situations a year ago, and we want to get out of that.”
Ponder put the theory to practice on Friday night against the Buffalo Bills. He was 8 of 10 for 128 yards with 1 TD on 1st and 2nd downs, an impressive display of passing that left the team and its fans optimistic about Ponder’s continued develop and the progression of the offense. Furthermore, Ponder connected with 7 different receivers on those 8 completions, and 5 of the 8 completions resulted in a 1st down or touchdown.
Granted, a 75% completion rate on 1st and 2nd down for a whole season is certainly an ambitious goal. Last year, Drew Brees set an NFL record for overall completion percentage at 71.2%, and he was 73.1% on 1st down and 70.4% on 2nd down. So if the guy who set an NFL record for overall completion percent wasn’t able to attain the goal, is it realistic for Ponder to do it in his first full year as a starter? Some may say no, but Vikings fans have to like that their QB as a high expectation of performance for himself and the team.
Ponder attained the goal on Friday night. Yes, it was a preseason game in which Ponder exited during the 2nd quarter. But it’s a sign that Ponder is progressing. And it’s a sign that the Vikings will be better on 3rd downs in 2012.
Tags: Christian Ponder
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