In a move that really doesn't surprise a lot of people, Sid Hartman is reporting that Joe Webb is now officially listed as a wide receiver. Webb wasn't surprised by the move, and to his credit seems ready to make the most of what would seem to be his last opportunity with the Vikings:
"It’s going to be very interesting," he said. "I haven’t played it since my rookie minicamp, but I think I can adjust to it pretty good. You just have to put in a lot of work. Coach Stew [wide receivers coach George Stewart] will do a lot of that with me, so we’ll see what happens."
Here we go.
This doesn't really change the dynamic of the team, but it also kind of does, too. Webb really didn't have a chance as quarterback, especially after his playoff start against Green Bay. But his athleticism is something that can't be discounted, so the Vikings are going to look and see if he can contribute there.
At the end of the season, Webb had a better shot of making the team as a wideout than he does now. When Percy Harvin was traded, the chances increased substantially, but then dropped when the Vikes signed free agent Greg Jennings. As of today, the starters are seemingly set with Jerome Simpson and Greg Jennings. Jarius Wright projects for the slot position after his strong finish at the end of last season, and first round pick Cordarelle Patterson will see the field early and often. So it seems that Webb will be battling Greg Childs, Stephen Burton, and a cavalcade of training camp bodies for what will be one or possibly two spots.
What are his chances? Well, Webb does have a couple of advantages in his favor. For one, he knows the offense better than probably any other receiver, at least on a conceptual level. He also has the kind of natural athleticism that just can't be coached, and in rare moments has flashed it, to the delight of Vikings fans everywhere. And yes, I am one of those Vikings fans. He's also had experience at the receiver position, playing it as a sophomore in college.
But he also has some things working against him. For one, his route running is probably rusty, and he will be playing catch up in some fundamental areas. Secondly, he seems like he's on the outside looking in right now. By that I mean he doesn't have the advantage of being an incumbent at the position and will have to leapfrog several guys to earn that fifth or sixth spot. And for all his natural talent, that's not an easy task. Although he knows the offense cold, he still has to move past guys that have done nothing but play wide receiver at an FBS or professional level for several years, and that is something that cannot be discounted.
Really, I like Joe Webb, I just got sick of the Webb v. Ponder argument that seemed to overtake us here at times. Now, that's officially behind us, and we can all thank God for that. I think Webb has a legitimate chance to make the team as a 5th or 6th guy, simply for the fact the two guys he'll be competing against have some substantial questions. For Greg Childs, it's whether or not he can even play again after his double patella tear. For Stephen Burton, it's general ineffectiveness. He's been on the roster a couple of seasons now, and has not made a move up the depth chart at all.
So is this the end of the beginning of Joe Webb the quarterback and the beginning of the second beginning of Joe Webb the receiver...or the beginning of the end of the Joe Webb era?
Only time will tell. Good luck, Joe.