August 30, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joe Webb (14) attempts a pass during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

Why the Vikings Chose Joe Webb Over Sage Rosenfels

Christian Ponder has played poorly enough in recent games that people are starting to call for his benching. This Bench Ponder lobby may or may not include Percy Harvin and other of his teammates. But it’s a moot point anyway because Leslie Frazier has no intention of benching Christian Ponder. He has made that perfectly clear. And should anyone question the team’s commitment to Ponder, Frazier has a pretty good built-in comeback. Frazier can just say,  “Who else am I supposed to play? Joe Webb?”

There are people who will say “Hell yes, play Joe Webb.” But let’s be honest about Joe Webb for a second. Joe Webb is not the answer. He’s not the short-term answer and he’s certainly not the long-term answer. I know Webb has come into some games in the past and given the team a lift but that was mostly about defenses not adjusting right away to his speed. When teams have prepared for Webb, they’ve had no trouble handling Webb. Webb may bring certain uncommon physical tools to the table, but as a passer, he’s never shown much.

The fact is that, as popular as Webb may be with the fans, he clearly doesn’t have the full trust of the coaching staff. During camp this year there was even heavy speculation that Webb would be cut and Sage Rosenfels would be made the #2 quarterback. That Rosenfels was ultimately the one to go, and Webb was kept, in my mind says less about Webb and more about Rick Spielman’s approach.

Let me explain that last statement. It boils down to this. Why keep Joe Webb if you don’t think he’s a very good quarterback? Why not keep Sage Rosenfels, a reliable veteran back-up who in the preseason showed a pretty good grasp of the offense? Think about where we are now with Ponder. Wouldn’t the Vikings be better off with Rosenfels as an option instead of Webb?

But that’s just my point. I don’t think Rick Spielman wanted Leslie Frazier to have that option. Because if Frazier had that option right now, he might be tempted to take it. I think Spielman deliberately saddled Frazier with Webb as the only back-up because he wanted Frazier to leave Ponder in no matter what.

Spielman is committed to making it work with Ponder. But he must’ve suspected that Ponder would struggle this year. Ponder is not Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson. He’s not an instinctive quarterback. He’s a guy who’s going to take a lot of refining to get him right. It’s probably at least a two year plan with Ponder, maybe a three year plan.

But Spielman also knows that the Vikings have a lot of veterans on the squad. And the veterans are not interested in standing by while a 2nd-year quarterback struggles. They want to win now. And you can bet some of them have been letting Leslie Frazier know this during Ponder’s recent struggles.

But what is Leslie Frazier supposed to do? Play Joe Webb? This is exactly the situation Spielman wanted to create. A situation where Frazier would have no choice but to play Ponder come hell or high water. Trust me, if the Vikes had a legit veteran back-up like Sage Rosenfels, the veterans would be in Frazier’s ear even more. They would be calling behind the scenes for Ponder to be benched.

But the veterans certainly know that Joe Webb gives them no better shot than Ponder. So they’re less likely to clamor for a change if Joe Webb is the only option.

It almost sounds like I’m putting forth a conspiracy theory, but I actually don’t think it’s that far-fetched. It makes perfect sense actually. Spielman knew the kind of touchy dynamic that might come about if the team played well as a whole but Ponder struggled. And he knew Leslie Frazier might bow to the veterans if they pressed him hard enough to make a QB change. Spielman essentially took the decision out of Frazier’s hands. He created a situation where it’s Ponder or no one. And the veterans will just have to swallow that.

Now it’s on Ponder to vindicate Spielman’s faith. If he starts playing better, this will be forgotten. If he continues struggling, the veterans might revolt even with Joe Webb as the only option. Maybe Percy Harvin will volunteer to take over as QB. How about full-time Wild Cat with Percy Harvin behind center? It would be interesting at least.

(Note: To those of you thinking “What about McLeod Bethel-Thompson?” My only response is, stop listening to PA. MBT is not in the picture.)

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  • Blainerss

    This is a team that had Zero expectations this year…. Sage has NEVER been a starting caliber QB.. that’s why hes not on a roster right now… on a rebuilding team… Joe Webb has WAYYY MORE upside then a 34 year old 2nd string QB at best.. Joe Webb could be alot better to if the coached devoted the time to him like they have been with Ponder… They should have made it a competition instead of just deciding from day one that Ponder was the starter.. your theory just doesn’t really hold water

  • RealViking

    What a waste don’t write anymore. You say teams have be successful when they strategize for Webb but how hard is it top stop a quarterback who runs with the scout team. Webb only practice with the starters when Ponder is injured and misses practice and he still look better then Ponder out their. You say Webb is not the short or long term answer which we have yet to find out but we all know Ponder isn’t. Unlike other rookie quarterbacks he had the chance to sit and watch while getting reps with the starterspeople say that Ponder was thrown in the fire which makes no sense because he wasn’t the week 1 starter, he just proceed that he sucks even with an offseason.

  • Pancake Face

    You must be the world’s smartest man. Joe Webb has only had 3 starts, 2 of them were season finales when Vikings players were playing for nothing and going through the motions – thinking about how much blow they were going to do in the offseason. In your next post, please put up which stock I should put my entire savings on!

  • bob

    Joe Webb eagles game, lions game, and redskins game. WATCH THEM. besides he never PASSED 70 YARDS in a game ever!

  • Bench Ponder

    This season will be another loss if someone doesn’t stop by Walmart, go
    to aisle 3, and purchase a pair of their biggest balls to muster up
    testinal fortitude in demoting the Viking’s “Great Lily” hope. People
    need to wake up and stop satisfying the status quo when there’s an
    obvious better quarterback besides the disappointing Ponder. Groom Joe
    Webb and you’ll see him thrive as Obama has done despite having the
    wrong paint job to the naysayers. Ponder is just another run of the mill
    QB with unexceptional minimal athletic ability. Case in point, even if
    there’s an opening in the defense, Ponder unfailingly becomes paranoid,
    spends too much time in the pocket, almost always gets sacked, or there
    is a turnover on downs. He is either afraid of contact or won’t
    consistently run the ball for whatever reason whenever there’s an
    opportunity. Though some may believe Ponder’s a more accurate thrower,
    however, his completions percentage sucks plus he quickly folds under
    pressure. Ponder inevitably can’t take the heat so he needs to be
    immediately afforded a cooling period in being relegated as a back-up

    By the way, your story is by far the most idiotic narrow-minded cyber-waste that’s polluting our internet bandwidth. Now that Ponder has physically shown you that he’s a trash QB, maybe he should ghostwrite for you in developing more worthless messages plus he could better inform us further of his incompetence and unwarranted existence in the NFL since you’re short-winded on the issue . Either way, both of you should be compensated on a contingency basis for your performance, which by my standards equates to a pack of peanuts (small) and a cup of water (8 oz) for a day’s pay. Too bad Joe Webb’s zipper is stuck, otherwise I’m certain he’d shut you up right away of your estrogen spewing worm rant.

  • Weazel

    You know what Dan Zinski? I can’t STAND guys like you. You’re writing Joe Webb off after only 5 career NFL starts. Ponder has had 21 NFL starts. I’d really love to see what Joe Webb could do in 21 NFL starts. In 2010, Webb had to make a quick transition from WR to QB to fill a void. He looked like a deer in headlights. In 2011, he settled in nicely. He represents REAL OFFENSE. With Webb, Harvin, and Peterson on the field at the same time, defenses would have a hard time adjusting. Webb deserveds the benefit of the doubt. He’s had to sit 21 games behind a guy who isn’t getting it done. And like the maintstream, idiots like yourself are writing him off after 5 starts because why? He wasn’t drafted high enough for you Dan? Nobody is saying that Joe Webb is, or will be the the ANSWER. But, he deserves AT LEAST half the opportunity that Ponder has had to prove it. After all, Joe Webb was on this team first. With his skills, doesn’t he deserve that shot?

  • Weazel

    Opportunities given to “grow” as an NFL quarterback since 2011

    Ponder – 21 Starts + One off-season anointment to be the starting QB
    Joe Webb – 2 career starts
    Joe Webb represents REAL offense, something this Vikings team does not have outside of AP and Harvin.

  • Weazel

    Here’s what Joe Webb has had to put up with in his career in Minnesota.
    In Week 14 in 2011, Ponder was benched after throwing 3 INTs and one fumble. Webb almost brought the team back, but a non-faskmask call resulted in a fumble.

    After a decent week 14 performance by Webb, the Vikings just handed the ball BACK to Ponder in Week 15 against the Saints. He has a horrible came.
    Ponder was given the start YET AGAIN in Week 16 against Washington. Ponder got hurt, replaced by Webb, Webb brings the Vikes to victory.

    Week 17 – Joe Webb relieves Ponder for the third time in a month. Webb leads a promosing drive, but throws an interception. Vikes lose by 4.
    Day 1 of Offseason – Ponder is named 2013 starting QB.