Saturday, September 01, 2012

Quarterback Decision Only Sensible One for Vikings

The prevailing wisdom entering the Minnesota Vikings' final pre-season game against Houston was that either McLeod Bethel-Thompson (MBT) or Joe Webb would be among Friday's cuts. Instead, it was veteran quarterback Sage Rosenfels who got his walking papers.

Rosenfels' predicament had nothing to do with his play in pre-season.  In limited action, he showed the most poise and the greatest ability of any of the Vikings' quarterback, particularly at making the easy and the necessary plays.  Rather, Rosenfels was entirely the victim of the Vikings' concession that they have no shot at anything meaningful this season.

By cutting Rosenfels, the Vikings are committing to Ponder as the starter, Webb as the backup and a rookie as the emergency quarterback.  All that Rosenfels would have provided the Vikings was an alternative to Webb and there was really no point in that unless the Vikings believed that there would be meaningful, tight games that required certainty at the quarterback position.

With Ponder gifted the starting role, there also was little reason to pay millions to Rosenfels when, in terms of replacement value to a team going nowhere, Webb and MBT are both younger and cheaper.

None of this settles the role of Webb, a player that the Vikings appear intent on keeping on the roster merely for the sake of keeping on the roster.  Not only is Ponder apparently on an extremely long rope, but MBT also appears to be the Vikings' preferred quarterback in waiting.  Webb's sole function, therefore, appears to be that of occasional substitute and emergency starting quarterback in 2012.

Barring a turnover next year in either the Vikings' coaching staff or the front office, this, thus, would appear to be Webb's final season in Minnesota.  Presumably, MBT will be polished enough to serve as the backup quarterback in 2013 and Webb, as third-string quarterback, will become even less relevant than he already is.

If the Vikings had some decision-making fortitude, they would put Ponder on notice that he will be expected to perform from the outset this year.   If he does, he keeps his job.  If he does not, Webb gets a shot and Ponder picks up the clipboard.  Alas, the Vikings appear committed to a different direction and that likely means that, no matter the on-field results, the Vikings will continue to turn to Ponder and refuse to employ the system of position competition that makes the successful teams successful.

Up Next:  Rosenfels Move Saves Vikings Even More Money--Will the Newly Stadiumed Team Spend Any?

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