Can’t say any of us saw that coming.
While there was a lot of skepticism about McNabb when he was first traded to the Vikings, the concern seemed to be more that we would just have another pointless, mediocre, 7-9 win season. Close enough to the play-offs that McNabb would be a full time starter, but not quite good enough to make a run into the postseason.
The disaster that has been the first four games has been mind boggling. Though McNabb is certainly not the complete cause of the problem, it’s not as if he is making the team better.
At 0-4, the Vikings have basically no chance of making the playoffs. According to nfl.com, only one 0-4 team in the last 2 decades has gone on to make the playoffs. Based on this reality, there is absolutely no point in keeping McNabb in. It’s not like he is suddenly going to improve at this point in his career. He is an average QB playing average football. Regardless of whether the Vikings have a midseason revival and go 8-8 or if they decide to become the second team to not win a single game, having McNabb as QB is not going to be beneficial in the long run.
At the very best we might win 7-8 games with McNabb. What good does that do us? Does anyone really think that after this debacle that he will be the QB next season? At this point, winning with McNabb sets us back. The more wins we get with him, the further back we are in the draft order, making it all the more harder to get more talent to make the inevitable Ponder era successful (let’s face it, Ponder is more likely to start then Webb).
And if we go 2-14 with McNabb and get the first overall pick. What are we going to do about Luck? Drafting a QB in the first round when you have a QB on your bench that hasn’t had a chance to play yet isn’t a good use of the Vikings resources. If we don’t know what Ponder can do, we could be faced with some very difficult choices next April. I’m not saying we should try to lose so we can do better in the draft, but if we are going to be bad, let’s be bad while developing a rookie QB and actually give ourselves a chance of being better in the future.
If we win with McNabb we make it harder to build the team through the draft, if we lose with McNabb, then we should have played Ponder to see what he is capable of. Nothing good is going to happen if we keep McNabb as the starter.
On the other hand, there is absolutely no downside to playing Ponder because one of two good things will happen. We will win, or we will lose.
If we win with Ponder and somehow manage to get to 6-8 wins (or at least show good improvement from the first 4 games), we would know that we were right in picking him and could look to build around him in the draft. We’ll be able to focus on getting some lineman that can block and receivers that can catch, instead of worrying about who the next QB will be.
If we lose with Ponder and he is just completely awful; well, we might very well be able to go after Luck or another top tier player. If we are going to have a high draft pick next season, we need to know what we have in Ponder. Look at Carolina, they drafted Clausen and watched him completely fail for one season. Because they knew that Clausen wasn’t the answer, they were able to easily move on to Newton who by all accounts looks like he will have a good career. If we fail with Ponder we fail, but at least we know that we have to move on.
With McNabb, at best we get mediocrity and lose a good chance to build for the future through the draft. At worst we end up with one of the worst records in the NFL, without knowing whether or not we can move forward with Ponder. Neither option works at this point.
Starting Ponder will be beneficial to the Vikings regardless of whether we win or lose. If we win with Ponder, or at least show some significant improvement. We will know that we can go into next season without any type of QB controversy and spend the offseason building the offense around Ponder.
If we Ponder is the next Ryan Leaf. Well, our record will be bad enough that finding another QB in the draft shouldn’t be too difficult.
Could starting Ponder be ugly? Of course, but it won’t be uglier than having him sit on a bench for a wasted season.