Nathan Hansen's column: A football theory to ponder
The new National Football League season started last week. As with the start of any season, it is an exciting time. Fans across the country look forward to seeing how the next few months will play out, and for at least a few weeks, every one of them can convince themselves their favorite team has a chance at Super Bowl glory.
Yes, even in Cleveland.
In Minnesota, the prevailing theory seems to be that the Vikings could be a powerhouse team if only they had a different quarterback. It doesn’t even seem to matter which quarterback. It could be current backup Matt Cassel or third-stringer McLeod Bethel-Thompson. I think there are some who would even play Viking legend Fran Tarkenton, currently 73 years old, ahead of Ponder.
I’m sure there’s no truth to rumors Vikings scouts were at the Farmington and Rosemount high school football games last Friday.
Well, pretty sure.
It’s a pretty remarkable situation. Usually a team gets at least a few games into a season before fans start calling to replace the quarterback with his backup. Or with a coat rack.
That’s not to say it’s an entirely bad idea. There is plenty of evidence that Ponder, who graduated from Florida State with a degree in finance, is less suited to being an NFL quarterback than he is to being, say, a molecular biologist.
A quick story: Once, years ago, I was on one of my rare golf outings. I was standing on the tee of a short downhill hole, and I bet my brother I could throw the ball onto the green. I wound up, took a quick running start and, through some quirk of aerodynamics or physiology or maybe a muscle spasm, I threw the ball almost entirely sideways and into the woods. It was embarrassing. And still, there were throws Christian Ponder made Sunday that I’m pretty sure I could do better.
Backers of the ditch-Ponder theory will point out that the Vikings have arguably the best runningback in the game, and that they have upgraded their wide receivers by signing a guy the Packers didn’t want anymore and drafting a guy who wears the same number as Randy Moss. Which has to count for something, right?
They also tend to ignore the fact that, at least through one game, the Viking defense shows about as much tendency to stop the opposing offense as Randy Moss ever showed toward stopping for traffic cops.
The biggest impediment to the Detroit Lions offense on Sunday was the Detroit Lions offense.
This is all just based on one game, of course. It’s possible the Viking defense will be much stouter next week. It’s possible Christian Ponder will get some kind of super secret $6 million man enhancements and become the quarterback team leaders continue trying to convince everyone he will be. Someday. Once he has a year or two to get comfortable.
It’s also possible Minnesota football fans are about to get a lot more into fantasy football.
Good luck, Cleveland.