Christian Ponder was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Vikings' offense: energy.
The offense, especially in second halves this season, seemed lethargic. It lacked rhythm and pace, and the receivers, specifically, seemed to be dispirited by the inaccuracy of Donovan McNabb.
The look of the offense was considerably different Sunday against the Packers. While Ponder's play didn't set the world on fire (he threw two picks and completed just 40.6 percent of his passes), he made some throws and did things with his legs that got the players around him moving with more pep.
He made throws into tight windows that McNabb was no longer making, including the 24-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins in the fourth quarter. He threw well on the run and scrambled for yardage when the opportunity presented itself.
Essentially, Ponder gave the receivers opportunities to make plays for him, something McNabb didn't with all the bounced passes and overthrows. Players such as Jenkins and Visanthe Shiancoe looked like they were having more fun on the field. Not only that, the home crowd (or at least the percentage of folks in the Metrodome rooting for the Vikings) was into the game and behind Ponder, a stark contrast to their last home game, when it lustily booed McNabb during a blowout win over the Cardinals.
There's always a sense of hope when a young QB takes over for a struggling veteran, and it's warranted here. Ponder proved, at the very least, that he has the arm talent and athleticism to compete on this level. The next step is sustaining that, once defenses have a chance to game-plan against him, while also improving on his consistency so he avoids stretches like the 5-of-17 one he went through during the middle of Sunday's game. But at this early stage of his career, the added energy is good enough.