To those who think Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner has absolutely no use for No. 3 quarterback Christian Ponder, hop aboard this time machine and we’ll travel allllll the way back to … well, last year.
Turner was the offensive coordinator in Cleveland. By Week 3, Turner was down to his second starting quarterback. By Week 8 – less than halfway through the season – he was on his third starting quarterback.
Overall, the Browns had three quarterbacks start at least three games. Brandon Weeden started Week 1 and made five starts. Brian Hoyer started Week 3 – beating the Vikings at the Metrodome, in case you forgot – and made three starts. And Jason Campbell started Week 8 and made eight starts.
With fans and others stuck on discussing the potential for Ponder to be traded or released as the Vikings go with just two quarterbacks on the roster, today seemed to be a good day to ask Turner the following:
“Norv, considering what you went through in Cleveland last year, does that give you a heightened sense of appreciation for your third quarterback?”
“Absolutely,” Turner said. “It never gets portrayed that way. I was obviously very disappointed in the opening game the way our fans reacted to Christian because I think he’s done everything he can do. He’s working his butt off. I think he’s a guy who is going to be valuable to our team.”
Ponder didn’t play in the second preseason game. But when you’ve been in the NFL for 30 seasons, as Turner has, you tend to expect the unexpected when it comes to injuries and the like. So you still carve out a little time for the guy at the end of the depth chart.
“The thing in Cleveland is we had three different guys have their career-best games in three different situations,” Turner said. “We didn’t win the games because we gave up a touchdown at the end of the game or something kept us from winning the game that was out of the quarterback’s hands. Having three quarterbacks, if that’s the way we end up going, it’s extremely valuable to me.”
Weeden’s best game saw him complete 24 of 40 passes (60.0) for 370 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and a 94.8 passer rating in a loss to Jacksonville. Hoyer’s best game actually came in a win over Cincinnati when he completed 25 of 38 passes (65.8) for 269 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 103.9 rating. And Campbell’s best performance came in a loss to New England, when he completed 29 of 44 passes (65.9) for 391 yards, three touchdowns, no picks and a 116.8 rating.
Turner, of course, doesn’t set the final roster. He was asked if he’d push head coach Mike Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman to keep all three quarterbacks currently on the roster.
“There are advantages to going both ways and we’ll adjust to whatever,” he said. “But I think we have a pretty good quarterback situation right now.”
Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson is back at Winter Park today after traveling to New York with his lawyer, David Valentini, for a Monday disciplinary hearing to appeal a three-game NFL suspension stemming from a DWI arrest last year. Simpson believes the hearing “went great.”
“I just told them the truth, told them the truth,” the 28-year-old said. “The records and the facts show what happened.”
Asked what he thought his suspension should be reduced to, Simpson replied, “I don’t know. That’s up to the discretion of them.”
Simpson avoided jail time in January after pleading guilty to careless driving and third-degree DWI from a Nov. 9 arrest. He was placed on one-year probation and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service in public schools.
The Vikings, aware of a possible suspension, re-signed Simpson to a one-year deal this offseason.
It was the second suspension for Simpson, who was banned three games by the NFL after a drug arrest in September 2011. Simpson was indicted on a felony drug-trafficking change, but later plead to a lesser felony charge of “being involved in a prohibited act relating to controlled substances.” He was sentenced in Kentucky to 15 days in jail in April 2012.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner said this morning that the Vikings will be prepared if Simpson’s suspension is upheld, saying that the team has contingency plans in place for a variety of situations.
“You have to have a varied plan,” he said. “Unfortunately in this game, guys miss [games] — whether it’s a case when a guy misses because off an off-the-field thing or we could be in the opening game and someone we’re counting on to play a big role sprains his ankle on the third play. And we have to plan to go play and do the things we want to do. We have plans and there are certain plays that Simp is really good on. There’s other guys that have to fill in if he’s not in for that play.”
Turner believes the Vikings have other viable deep threats, including Greg Jennings, to fill the void.
Meanwhile, Simpson made it clear that will accept the league’s final decision and move forward.
“I’m just ready to get it behind me,” he said.