I feel like a broken record for writing this, but now, more so than ever, is the time for the Minnesota Vikings to transition one of their best athletes from a position that he receives minimum playing time at to one where he can be a difference-maker more frequently.
This player in question, of course, is Joe Webb.
Minnesota has sentenced him to the role of backup quarterback for the foreseeable future as Christian Ponder develops into the franchise quarterback.
This is a major mistake.
As was seen last season when Webb took the field to relieve Ponder, things happen when Webb has the ball in his hands. The man is a freak of an athlete who has a great combination of size and speed.
Just think back to that 65-yard touchdown scramble against the Detroit Lions last year. Just imagine him taking that skill set to the wide receiver position.
At 6’4” and 220 pounds, Webb is made for more than just keeping a spot on the bench warm. He should be on the field making the Vikings offense better.
Instead, Webb spent the majority of 2011 wasting his talents away on the sideline. Webb’s presence at the quarterback position not only hurts his own development but the development of Ponder as well.
If Minnesota is serious about developing Ponder effectively then there will be limited to no opportunities for Webb to see the field at quarterback. If Minnesota is serious about Ponder as its quarterback of the future then that leaves Webb wasting his talents on the sideline.
Young quarterbacks can develop from watching rather than playing, as Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have, but Minnesota has put all of its eggs in the Ponder basket while the Patriots had Drew Bledsoe and the Packers had Brett Favre. That means Ponder must play. (I’m sorry to anyone who believes Webb has a future as a franchise quarterback, but I do not see it.)
Webb can bolster a wide receiver corps that is in dire need of talent. Its top receiver, Percy Harvin, is feuding with the front office and may hold out of training camp or pursue his desire for a trade further.
Webb wouldn’t step onto the field on his first day as a wide receiver and blow the world away.
He would need time to get adjusted to the position, learn the intricacies of the position relative to Minnesota’s offense and then, eventually, come to a point where his natural athleticism coupled with his knowledge of the position would enable him to help Minnesota’s offense from that position.
That’s why it is vital to make that kind of move now. He would have a little less than a month before training camp to hone his skills as a receiver and then would have all of training camp to get acclimated.
If Webb could transition into the receiver position the way his athleticism should allow him to, then it would not only bolster his career but the career of Ponder too. Webb's presence at the receiver position would provide Ponder with the type of weapon he hasn't had during his time in the NFL.
If Minnesota moved Webb to wide receiver that wouldn’t mean it would have to remove Webb from the quarterback depth chart. He could sit at No. 3 and Minnesota could have Sage Rosenfels as its No. 2 quarterback.
Minnesota will not use its No. 2 quarterback unless Ponder gets hurt, making it more or less irrelevant who is the No. 2.
The Vikings didn’t do what I and others longed for in 2011. Maybe 2012 will be different. It could happen.