Saturday, January 05, 2013

Webb's Performance Dooms Vikings

With but three snaps under his belt in the 2012 season and sparse first-team repetitions in practice, Joe Webb provided perhaps the most horrific half of quarterbacking in NFL post-season history on Saturday night.  At one point, Webb's numbers read 3 of 12 for -2 net yards.  And the performance was actually far worse than that.

In addition to the horrid statistics, Webb was far more feeble making routine decisions.  Twice he attempted to throw passes to nobody in particular while in the grasp of a defender--both times, he escaped disastrous picks only because Green Bay's defenders did not anticipate even the possibility of such poor decision-making.

Webb also grossly over- and under-threw receivers all night long.  Typical of these misfires was the pass near the goal line on the Vikings' opening drive, when things were still going well.  Webb threw the ball into the ground, despite have a player wide open just three yards directly in front of him.  A completed pass would have set up a first down inside the five.  The errant pass resulted in fourth down and a Blair Walsh field goal.  The Vikings never recovered.

As if to punctuate his awful first half, Webb missed a wide open receiver on one of the easiest pass plays in the NFL, just as the half ended.  The pass was a dart, 15 yards wide of its mark.  The receiver was dismayed, the Vikings' sideline clearly dejected.  The game, certainly, was over.

For those hoping that Webb would at least push Ponder to hone his own game, that now seems like a pipe dream.  Webb's first half performance was so bad that it is nearly a certainty that the Vikings will turn out the player whom they refused to insert in the face of a 57-yard passing performance by Christian Ponder.  That was when Webb had shown some earlier promise.  Surely there is even less of a comfort factor now with Webb.

This was not all Webb's doing, to be certain.  He had taken but the three aforementioned snaps all year, primarily because the Vikings wanted to build Ponder's confidence.  That decision might pay off in the long run, but it certainly did not pay off tonight.

In the first half, Webb looked like a player playing in his first NFL game--directly out of high school.  In the second half, he settled down some, made some decent passes and finished with some of statistics that the Vikings have lauded Ponder for posting throughout the season.  Had he started the game the way he finished, the game might have been more entertaining and Adrian Peterson might have been more of a factor.

None of that happened, however, likely leaving the Vikings only one off-season question at quarterback--whether to bring in a steady veteran to fill in if Ponder does not progress or a younger veteran with possibly more upside to challenge Ponder.  Either decision almost certainly will mean the end to Webb's tenure in Minnesota.

Up Next:  The Harvin Question.  Plus, ranking the holes.


markepa said...

"In the second half, he settled down some, made some decent passes and finished with some of statistics that the Vikings have lauded Ponder for posting throughout the season"

What's with the blatent pro-Webb bias? After reading this analysis I understand why you don't have much of a following.

vikes geek said...


Thank you for describing the content to me, no matter how out of context you take took it. I will pocket that for the next time someone refers to a sub-100 yard Ponder performance as "progress."


comet52 said...

They ran read-option opening drive and looked ok. They only ran it 3 plays the rest of the game. Musgrave decided it was time for Webb to be a pocket passer - a disastrous decision. Not saying they would have won playing to his only strength but it might have not been a laughable disaster. Green Bay took their foot off the gas or it would have been 45-10. They just turned into the stumble-bum Vikings we're used to, because the coaches didn't want to take what was given to them with the main qb out. Pretending you can be something you aren't is a recipe for disaster. Asking Webb to do stuff he has never really been given prep time to do, is not Joe Webb's fault. The mistakes in this organization always come from the top down. Been that way for 50 years.

vikes geek said...


I mostly agree--though Webb's passes and decision-making in the pocket were ugly in the first half.

I've said many times that Webb and Ponder are projects and that one might ultimately be successful. The Vikings opted for Ponder and refused even to let Webb get experience when Ponder struggled. That ultra-conservative, kids-gloves handling of Ponder cost the Vikings against the Packers. It did not help that the Vikings continue to insist that both Webb and Ponder are pocket passers when neither is. When evaluating coaching this season, that certainly must be factored.

comet52 said...

Spielman is the driving force behind CP being on the field even when he was losing games by himself, that first at Green Bay being the most egregious example. Yanking him might have gotten a victory. And that wouldn't stop them from putting him back in the following week, since it was lesson learned time for him anyway. And that would have made the home finale one for the division and a home playoff against Green Bay.

Spielman is also responsible for having no real backup, jettisoning Rosenfels for MBT. I think converting Webb to wideout or cutting him would have made sense, along with keeping Rosenfels. Webb is a read option guy who needs a lot of work in the passing game and not playing will never get him that work.

It's great to keep him around because he's a gamer with big athletic skills but since he never gets on the field and develops his game, it's sort of pointless to keep him around for this potential. I guess maybe they thought CP might crash and burn and they'd be forced to go there? But then that's kinda what CP did mid season and then we found out we were going to stay the course even when the longship sank week after week. Thank you upper management.

vikes geek said...


The Vikings have bungled their quarterbacking situation since at least the 2011 draft (let's leave aside, for now, the inexcusable and more historical decisions to draft both Troy Williamson and Erasmus James over Aaron Rodgers--and Roddy White, Vincent Jackson, Frank Gore, Logan Mankins, Lofa Tatupu, etc--in 2005), when, rather than molding Webb, they drafted Webb's slower clone, Ponder. They then gave Ponder the job when McNabb failed and failed to ensure work for the backup or a backup that did not require work.


comet52 said...

Well I don't think rehashing 7 year old drafts conducted by a different ownership, management and coaching regime has much value. With Culpepper in place they weren't looking for a qb. He tore his knee up the next season and it's been a mess since then. The Wilfs bad hire of Childress led to the bad draft of TJack and the Favre experiment and so on.

Ponder is not a Webb clone. He can pocket pass when he is not mentally full of the jitters which this season was a lot of the time. The fact that he's mobile does not make him the same brand of athlete Webb is and I would not run a read option offense with CP, it's not his game. In fact at the NFL level it's a long term recipe for problems - see RGIII/ACL.

The fact he can throw on the run/roll out is nice but the Vikes know he has to develop a pocket presence if he is going to ever have an NFL future, which is why they force fed him to us all year in spite of some truly horrific performances.

The question going forward is can he get his head screwed on and routinely provide serviceable performances as he did against San Francisco and Green Bay in week 17? That still might not make him a long term answer because his career would extend beyond that of Adrian Peterson and AD is not going to have all-world seasons like this one every single year going forward. So 2013 is make or break for Ponder and if it's break, the franchise is back in the quarterback hole, big time, because they have no alternative at this point, unless MBT turns out to be some sort of miracle.

The other issue is, why does this staff lose it's collective mind at Green Bay? Not yanking CP at what was clearly the nadir of his season and a winnable game with even mediocre quarterbacking, and then not developing a full blown read option package and game plan for Webb when it was clear CP couldn't go, instead running it effectively on the opening series then abandoning it... agggh!