Oct 24

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Ponder vs McNabb: It’s the 3rd Down Conversions, Stupid!

Ponder's first TD Ball (McKenna Ewen - Star Tribune)

The last few Mondays I’ve been waking up feeling verklempt and vaguely pissed off. This morning, I woke before my alarm and feel rather… chipper. Because I like to analyze things, immediately I wondered why the difference. After reviewing the box scores from yesterday’s game, I now understand this feeling.

Look at Ponder’s 3rd down efficiency. You might recall that a few posts back, I talked about our inability to convert on 3rd down – averaging under 35% efficiency. At the time, I pointed to the Saints – the team with the highest average 3rd down efficiency at 59%.

Christian Ponder was at 56% yesterday against the Packers. McNabb, meanwhile, was at 28% against the Lions. I picked that game specifically because the Lions were undefeated, too, at the time, and we were fairly close to winning that game as well. I thought the situations were about as equal as I could get them without the QBs facing off against the same team.

Category Ponder (Vikings vs Packers) McNabb (Vikings vs Lions)
Total First Downs 22 16
… by rushing 9 5
… by passing 12 10
Third Down Efficiency 9/16 – 56% 4/14 – 28%
Total Offensive Plays 65 63
Ave Gain per Offensive Play 6.7 yards 5.1 yards
Net Yards Rushing 218 yards 132 yards
… by Peterson 175 yards 78 yards
Ave Gain per Rushing Play 7.0 yards 5.7 yards
Net Yards Passing 217 yards 189 yards
Red Zone Efficiency 2/2 – 100% 2/5 – 40%

I think the other startling statistic here is Adrian Peterson’s production. Nearly 100 more yards when the passing game was a real threat.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m looking forward to this week’s game for the first time all season. I’m interested to see what Ponder can do as he settles into the offense.


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