Minnesota Vikings: Don't Compare Joe Webb to Michael Vick
A national TV audience got to see the coming out of Vikings quarterback Joe Webb on Tuesday night when he led Minnesota to an improbable victory on the road over Philadelphia.
First, I want to put into perspective the Vikings' victory and Webb's performance.
This game was won on the performance of the Vikings defense and the running of Adrian Peterson.
Webb's play was noteworthy based only on the fact that is was his first start in the NFL.
He managed the game well, and Leslie Frazier and Darrell Bevel had a simple game plan that would not allow Webb to lose the game.
Webb was 17 of 26 for 195 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions—a very decent 87.8 quarterback rating.
Vikings fans need to temper their enthusiasm over the young Mr. Webb. The most popular player on a losing team is typically the backup quarterback.
NBC commentators Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were, not surprisingly, making comparisons between Webb and Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick. However there is a better comparison to be made than Vick.
That would be former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper.
Here are seven comparisons between Webb and Culpepper that might justify some of the excitement over the potential future success of the Minnesota Vikings.
Culpepper and Webb—Conference USA Quarterbacks
In 1999 Minnesota Vikings head coach Dennis Green selected Daunte Culpepper in the first round with the 11th pick in the draft.
Culpepper came out of the University of Central Florida. In 1999 UCF was an independent but would eventually join Conference USA in 2005—the same conference the University of Alabama Birmingham joined in 1999.
Both Culpepper and Webb represent the only quarterbacks from their respective schools ever to start a game in the NFL.
Only 36 players from UCF and 14 from UAB have played in the NFL.
Joe Webb and Daunte Culpepper Know How To Score Touchdowns.
Looking at the college statistics for both Joe Webb and Daunte Culpepper leads to an interesting coincidence.
Culpepper was a four year starter at the University of Central Florida, while Webb only played his junior and senior years at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
In his two years at UAB, Webb scored a total of 53 touchdowns, 31 passing and 22 rushing.
In Culpepper's last two seasons at UCF he threw for 53 touchdowns.
Both Could Be Named Starters in Their Second NFL Season
In 2000, Daunte Culpepper's second year in the NFL, he would start all 16 games for the Minnesota Vikings.
He would lead the Vikings to a 7-1 record midway through the season, the same record Minnesota would have after eight games in 1998, the best season in the team's history.
The Vikings would finish with a 11-5 record and an NFC Central Division title.
Vikings fans are hoping for the same kind of success in Joe Webb's second NFL season.
Taking Over Two Years After NFC Championship Appearances
In 1998 the Minnesota Vikings were led by veteran quarterback Randall Cunningham to a franchise best 15-1 record and an appearance in the NFC Championship Game.
The Vikings would fall short against the Atlanta Falcons, 30-27, in overtime.
In 1999 Cunningham would go 2-4 as a starter. He would be benched in favor of another veteran quarterback, Jeff George.
Fast forward to 2009. The Vikings were led by another veteran quarterback to the best record since the 1998 season.
Like Cunningham in 1998, Brett Favre and the Vikings suffered an overtime loss in the NFC Championship game.
This time at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, 31-28.
In 2010 Favre has failed to reproduce his success of 2009, with a 5-9 record.
After Tuesday's victory over the Eagles Joe Webb may have shown enough to become the starting quarterback for the 2011 Vikings—just two years after the NFC Championship game loss to the Saints.
Throwing to Former Rookie Of The Year Receivers.
In Daunte Culpepper's first season as the Vikings' quarterback, he led the NFL with 33 touchdown passes.
The 1998 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Randy Moss led the NFL catching 15 of those touchdowns from Culpepper.
If Joe Webb is named the Vikings' starter in 2011 he will be throwing to Percy Harvin, the 2009 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
We got a preview of this potent combination when Webb connected with Harvin on a 46-yard completion against the Eagles on Tuesday night.
Can the Webb-to-Harvin connection rival that of the Culpepper-to-Moss?
Handing Off to an Elite Running Back
When Daunte Culpepper started 16 games in 2000 for the Minnesota Vikings he had the luxury of handing off to an elite running back in Robert Smith.
Smith, the Vikings' career rushing leader with 6,818 yards, had his best season in 2000 when he rushed for 1,521 yards and seven touchdowns.
Joe Webb will have the benefit of playing with Adrian Peterson, who currently with 5,751 yards should eclipse Smith's total rushing yards near the end of the 2011 season.
Let's hope history does not repeat itself completely. Following the 2000 season Smith announced his retirement from the NFL after eight seasons—he was only 28 years old.
Looking at The Numbers—Comparing Their First Two Games
At 6'4" and 220 lbs, Joe Webb may be slightly closer to Daunte Culpepper than Michael Vick.
Culpepper is also 6'4" but played at about 260 pounds when he was with the Vikings.
Vick is a little shorter at 6'0", but about the same weight as Webb, listed at 215 pounds.
So far in two games Webb has rushed for two touchdowns but has yet to throw a touchdown pass in the NFL.
In Tuesday's game the officials reversed what should have been a touchdown catch by Sidney Rice.
In seven years with Minnesota Culpepper threw for 135 touchdowns and ran for another 29.
Here's a comparison of their numbers through the first two games in their careers.
Culpepper: 46 of 60, 545 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions—an 81.59 quarterback rating.
Webb: 34 of 57 for 324 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions—a 61.4 rating.
Webb's numbers will have to improve to have the same kind of success as Culpepper did in his first season.
Temper The Joe Webb Mania!
Before Vikings fans get too carried away with the young Mr. Joe Webb, let me remind you of another promising quarterback that joined the Vikings in 2006.
Tarvaris Jackson started two games in his rookie season.
His stats for the season were 47 of 81 for 475 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions—a very similar quarterback rating to Webb after two games of 62.5.
Like I mentioned in the opening, typically the most popular player on a losing team is the backup quarterback.
Let's not get too carried away with Webb just yet.