So tonight I was at work when I felt like I had a bit of an epiphany. I kind of hate that we have Joe Webb on our team.
Before you bash me, listen for a second. It is well documented that Webb is a phenomenal athlete. He is big, fast, and can jump high. It's all really breathtaking to witness.
HOWEVUH *Stephen A. Smith voice*, while he may be a considerably better all-around athlete than your average NFL-er, what is he really good at? He has shown almost nothing at the WR position in the two years he's been in the league. He has one catch in his career as a Viking and this is the position we originally drafted him for. Webb hardly can get on the field even with our terrible receiving corps. My argumentative mind tells me this may be because he is also our backup QB and our coaching staff wants to keep him healthy, but if you're going to try to use a guy like we have tried to use Joe Webb, I doubt his status as backup quarterback is what's holding our coaching staff back. If he was good enough to be on the field as a receiver, he would be in my occasionally not-so-humble opinion.
Webb's running abilities have really been at their best (actually, they have only been effective) when he is in as our main QB, because the defense can't automatically assume he's going to run it like they do when he lines up in the backfield in the "Blazer" formation. When Joe has operated out of the Blazer formation he's gotten stuffed like a holiday turkey. He could be amazing if he had much for passing skills, but at this point those are questionable at best. As a quarterback, he is a 58% career passer with a 1:3 TD-INT ratio and a 5 yard/attempt average. In my mind, his position will never be at quarterback. If you disagree, I'd love to hear why.
One aspect of his failures has been the timing of them. This aspect is not Joe Webb's fault at all. That's on the coaching staff and more specifically, Bill Musgrave. At times, Musgrave's offense looks like it could be very effective. At others, the playcalling makes you throw your hands up and wonder what the heck he was thinking. We ran two straight plays last week where Joe Webb faked handoffs to CHRISTIAN PONDER. What starting defensive player in the NFL is going to believe for a second that Christian Ponder is taking that handoff? (Vikings players not included.) Sure enough, no Saint did and he was promptly stopped after 3 yards. The next play Webb was hurried into an incompleted pass to Percy Harvin. (He also had one play earlier in the game where he was dropped for a 3 yard loss from the same formation.)
NOTE: As I was looking up the exact results for those plays, I Googled "Vikings-Saints recap". I clicked the first result, and quickly realized it was the recap for the 2009 NFC Championship. Talk about an unexpected kick to the plums. Not cool, Google.
Again, this is a great athlete, and I acknowledge that. But guess what? The NFL has seen plenty of Joe Webbs. If you're not able to apply your athleticism to a specific part of the game (receiving, passing, blocking, returning or rushing the ball), you really aren't good for much. Josh Cribbs has been successful in Cleveland, but mainly for his return prowess (Joe has shown little to nothing in this area) while Brad Smith has made a decent living doing the same for a couple AFC East teams. Both have had decent success running Wildcat formations (Webb has not), but their marks have been made in the return game and as wide receivers as well. Joe is a 6th round pick, so we don't have a ton invested into him. He certainly wouldn't be the first 6th round pick by the Vikes that hasn't succeeded, if in fact he doesn't.
So what I'm asking, in short, is how much longer do you folks think we should try to find ways to get Webb involved when he really hasn't shown much in the opportunities he's been given? Has his lack of success been Bill Musgrave's fault? Is it a collective problem between not being able to sustain drives long enough to utilize the Blazer formation properly, an inconsistent offensive line, and coaching mistakes? I really can't be sure. I'm glad I'm only pretending to be the Viking coaching staff and not actually a part of it. They really have a mess on their hands. We're almost to the end of his second season, so attributing it to adjusting to the NFL is an argument that's running out of slack in a hurry. I personally am getting a little tired of seeing every gimmick play we try for Mr. Webb fail miserably. Maybe it's time we give up. To decide whether to give up on Webb or Musgrave is not my problem, but at least one is at fault here.