With Freeman out, is Ponder next?

Christian Ponder has not fared well when opposing defenses send extra pressure his way. Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

The Hail Mary might be football's most predictable play and also one of its least likely to succeed, but sometimes, it's all a team has left.

Down by four points with four seconds remaining in Week 3, the Minnesota Vikings had no other real option. Christian Ponder, the quarterback Minnesota asked to execute that last-ditch throw, was himself a product of the Vikings' desperation. The team was without a starting quarterback when it made Ponder a surprise selection with the 12th pick in the 2011 NFL draft. The Vikings had to take a quarterback, and Ponder was their guy.

The Sunday Hail Mary play against the Cleveland Browns did not end well for Minnesota. A small detail within that play can help us better understand one of the traits NFL people see holding back Ponder in the bigger picture. With Josh Freeman losing his starting job in Tampa Bay, now is a good time to consider whether that bigger picture in Minnesota includes Ponder at all.