Almost one year ago to the day, a young kid drafted 199th overall, the exact same spot Tom Brady was drafted, took over the quarterback position for the Minnesota Vikings, a position that had been filled just a few games earlier by both a legendary quarterback in Brett Favre and the presumed quarterback of the future in Tarvaris Jackson. The young kid from Birmingham, Alabama took over as the Vikings field general and within a few short games he shined in a nationally televised Tuesday night game against the Philadelphia, Eagles. Sunday that young kid, Joe Webb, found himself in a similar position, taking over for the benched potential Hall of Famer Donovan McNabb and the presumed QB of the future Christian Ponder.
Joe Webb led a furious Vikings comeback via 12 for 23 passing for 84 yards and a score to go along with 109 yards rushing and another TD. (In best studio analyst voice: “The 109 yards rushing, oh by the way, is a Vikings QB rushing record.” The previous record was 99 yards held by Fran Tarkenton.) Webb’s day included an electric 65 yard TD run. The comeback, however, fell just short. The Vikings stalled out at the 1-yard line, turning the ball over on the last play of the game. But Webb showed once again why he’s a legitimate threat on the field.
Over the next couple of days (and maybe weeks) we will hear plenty of talk. There will be rumors of QB controversy and clamoring for Webb to start over Ponder. There will be moaning for getting the best draft position possible in order to draft Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. The truth of the matter, however, is that there is not a quarterback controversy on our hands. The injured Christian Ponder should have never been on the field in the first place. He was clearly in pain, trying to push through at less than 100%. His five turnovers for 17 Lions points tell the story. Yes, Ponder made some bad rookie mistakes, just one game after making the exact same mistakes against the Denver Broncos at the Metrodome. Some of those mistakes were poor decision making, while others were throwing with a painful hip pointer that kept Ponder out of practice all week. Ponder will bounce back from his worst day in his young NFL life.
The question here, however, isn’t should Webb start, but why hasn’t Webb been playing more all season long. Webb displayed his dynamic abilities last season. The failed Blazer package isn’t enough. Early in the season, it was clear that Percy Harvin was one of the most dynamic offensive weapons that the Vikings have. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave had to figure out how to get Harvin the ball in space more often. So he did. Giving Harvin the ball on 6 yard outs, screens, direct handoffs, crossing routes, misdirections, reverses, and any other way imaginable. The second half of the season, Harvin has shined, not just locally, but on a national scene. It’s clear the Vikings need to figure out how to do the same thing with Webb. He’s a play-maker. The Vikings need to find a way to put Webb in a position to make plays, while not inhibiting Christian Ponder’s growth as a franchise quarterback.
There isn’t a quarterback controversy here, but there are questions. Musgrave and head coach Leslie Frazier need to answer those questions in the coming weeks. Webb needs to be more involved in this team’s future.