On the surface, all remains well for the Minnesota Vikings.
Sure, they stunk up the joint Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but a 5-3 record at the halfway point of the season is nothing to be ashamed of. Considering what most predicted for the team, it's almost remarkable.
But Christian Ponder looms as a concern for this team. As Michael Lombardi wrote Friday, the quarterback's play has dropped off considerably following an efficient start. Ponder has thrown more interceptions than touchdown passes since Week 4, while also seeing a dip in both completion percentage and yards per attempt.
Adrian Peterson is proving week after week that he's capable of carrying this offense, but Ponder needs to shake this slump if the Vikings are to find their way into the NFC playoffs. On Friday, coach Leslie Frazier said he couldn't imagine a situation where Ponder would land on the bench.
"We have complete confidence he's going to do a good job," Frazier said, via the Pioneer Press.
One particular Thursday night play was symbolic of Ponder's recent struggles. Trailing by 10 points, the Vikings had the ball on their own 25 and were trying to move into field-goal range late in the first half. Ponder took the snap, rolled to his right, looked off a wide-open Percy Harvin, then forced a ball to Jerome Simpson for a near interception.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock was downright offended by the play.
Said Mayock: "That's a horrible decision right there, and if I'm the head coach, I'm deflating the football right now."
That's exactly what the head coach did.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.