The Minnesota Vikings are filled with optimism as they approach the 2013 season.
In a wide-ranging interview with NFL.com's Albert Breer, general manager Rick Spielman describes the Vikings as a team that used the draft to build aggressively around a talented nucleus. Spielman believes the "sky's the limit" in Minnesota.
Spielman sees quarterback Christian Ponder as a main reason for the internal optimism. The GM said the team is "expecting a step forward" from Ponder next season, and Spielman doesn't seem to possess the doubts so many others have about the third-year quarterback.
"I give him just as much credit for getting us in the playoffs as Adrian (Peterson)," Spielman said.
That is a bold statement. Peterson came back from a shredded knee and put the Vikings on his back for 16 games, rushing for more than 2,000 yards and earning MVP honors. Ponder had six games where his passer rating was south of 75.
You can make the argument that the Vikings made the playoffs last season in spite of Ponder. Then again, the rose-colored glasses are out in Minnesota, and Spielman (rightly) can point to Ponder's lights-out performance in the playoff-clinching victory over the Green Bay Packers in Week 17.
Still, it all smells like an over-sell. Ponder can be proficient, but can he consistently be effective? Spielman's job might ride on it.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.