|Has McNabb made his last start for the Vikings? (US PRESSWIRE)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
It took Donovan McNabb's best outing of the year to usher in the Christian Ponder era. For a night, anyway. For the first five and a half weeks of the NFL season, there hadn't been a quarterback controversy in Minnesota (a least from head coach Leslie Frazier's perspective) but once Ponder entered a game in the fourth quarter, the conversation immediately switched from "Man, the Vikings are getting blown out of Soldier Field" to "We've seen this movie before and it doesn't end well for Donovan."
But nothing's official; for now, the depth chart remains unchanged. "We have to sit down on Monday and talk about a lot of things," Frazier said following the Vikings' 39-10 loss to the Bears. "We need to decide on what direction we want to go."
McNabb, as he repeated at various points last season with the Redskins before he was eventually replaced by Rex Grossman (!), considers the job his. "I don't see it 'ending like this,' as you say. It's tough. You're 1-5 at this particular point. It felt like we did a lot of great things today. I guess we'll sit down and talk, but I still expect to be there (starting) next week."
And maybe McNabb should feel that way. After what can kindly be described as a horrible start to 2011 (his Week 1 numbers were particularly offensive), he went 19 of 24 for 177 yards Sunday night, and finished with a passer rating of 97.4, his best this season.
Ponder, the Vikings' first-round pick in April, played well enough to remain in the "Start him now" conversation (9 of 17 for 99 yards, 8 yards rushing), even though the Vikings might have a better chance to win with McNabb under center.
But when you're 1-5, winning is relative. If Minnesota makes the change at quarterback, it will be for the same reasons as the Panthers, Jaguars and Bengals: future success. (Although, miraculously, Cincinnati and Andy Dalton are 4-2 heading into their bye week.)
For now, Ponder's saying all the right things.
"I was very grateful for the opportunity that Coach let me go in," he said. "I thought I made some plays, thought I missed some plays, missed a couple throws. But I definitely had fun. It's always hard to have fun when you're losing that bad, but I was grateful and I definitely had fun."
As for why Frazier decided to pull McNabb for Ponder: "Just where we were in the ballgame, where the score was," he said. "Just wanted to get (Ponder) in there, let him take some snaps and get a chance to get a feel for the NFL tempo."
The Vikings head coach added: "I don't know if [McNabb's] all right with [the decision to take him out of the game] … but he understood"
If this season is anything like last season, it's something McNabb might have to get used to.
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