(3:18) 7-C.Ponder pass incomplete deep left to 81-J.Simpson. PENALTY on DET-28-D.Bentley, Defensive Pass Interference, 31 yards, enforced at MIN 32 - No Play
He has a few more long PI calls too, all right in the same area.
(10:06) (Shotgun) 7-C.Ponder pass incomplete deep left to 81-J.Simpson [55-S.Tulloch]. PENALTY on DET-28-D.Bentley, Defensive Pass Interference, 26 yards, enforced at DET 49 - No Play
(3:47) (Shotgun) 7-C.Ponder pass incomplete deep left to 19-D.Aromashodu (26-J.Wilson). PENALTY on WAS-26-J.Wilson, Defensive Pass Interference, 27 yards, enforced at WAS 28 - No Play.
(8:53) 7-C.Ponder pass incomplete deep right to 81-J.Simpson. PENALTY on ARI-22-W.Gay, Defensive Pass Interference, 29 yards, enforced at ARI 42 - No Play.
This tells me that Ponder is getting the ball down field fairly accurately, but the WRs have no separation. There are a couple of reasons for that, the first and most obvious is a lack of a WR who can get open deep. Simpson was supposed to be that guy, but he isn't. The second reason is more on Ponder - his ball speed isn't amazing, and it gives the safeties time to react and get into position. This also limits the deep passes that we can throw. We need a big WR who can go up and get the ball in traffic because there will almost always be traffic on the deep ball.
To add more to the ball speed issue...
CBs are playing the fade on the outside receiver almost every play specifically because of the ball speed. If Ponder throws the fade the defender will be in great position to defend it, and will sometimes draw a PI call. This is what we have been seeing. Simpson and Harvin do have the speed, but are failing to get separation because the CB is starting out with an advantage. If Ponder misses and throws the pass to the inside shoulder, it is in danger of being picked. This is where we can really use a WR that can go up and get the ball, like Megatron or like Rice did for Favre.
If the receiver runs a post route and Ponder passes it to him, the safety will have plenty of time to react and get into position. We have seen very few post routes this year, and I think this is the exact reason. The only time we are going to see a successful post route is when we are facing a single safety deep and Ponder is able to look him off. This is a pretty veteran move that I hope Ponder can learn, mostly because this usually happens on a blitz or when they are stacking the box. With our short game, we have been seeing a lot of stacked box, so this is an area of potential.
Another option is to break off a fade route to a curl when both the WR and the QB recognize the CB committing to the fade. Simpson did this correctly in the Tampa game, Ponder did not. Ponder has to throw the ball so soon after the snap during a deep fade (again because of the ball speed) that he only has a split second to read the coverage. This is something else that Ponder needs to improve on. The key is to have both the WR and the QB on the same page. Right now I see Ponder checking down more than breaking routes. I also don't see him calling any hot routes to force the CB deep on a called mid pass.
These are all things that I think will come with time. Every QB has their strengths and weaknesses, Ponder is no exception. There are several ways for him to overcome his ball speed, and I think he can get there. But it will take time.
It is on Musgrave to call plays that will force the CB back inside, which is what I think his intent was with the efficient short game attack. We need to run those two tight end sets, we need to call those curls, we need to send two deep when they are stacking the box and slow the safety.