Saying that the 2010 season has not gone as most had anticipated would be a vast understatement. The preseason Super Bowl favorites were eliminated from the playoff race weeks ago.
The Vikings' underachieving has been accompanied by a coaching change, an off-field scandal involving Brett Favre and numerous injuries to the body of Favre. Over the course of the season, Favre has dealt with an ankle injury, a shoulder injury and a concussion. These ailments ended Brett Favre's "Iron Man" streak of consecutive games started and have also hurt his on-field performance all year.
Heading into the final week of the season, Brett Favre is still beat up, the Vikings have been eliminated from the playoffs, and the team is now at the point where they should try to show something in the final game that they can build off of this offseason.
The question is, why are the Vikings still trying to get Brett Favre to play?
The 41-year old quarterback has nothing left to prove. He has virtually every relevant career passing record and is a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One last game against the Lions will not change any of that. Brett Favre has nothing left to prove.
There is a quarterback on the Minnesota Vikings roster who does have something to prove. That quarterback is a 24-year old rookie sixth round draft pick: Joe Webb.
Joe Webb started last week against the Philadelphia Eagles in a game that the Vikings were never supposed to win. Webb didn't turn in a prolific passing performance for the ages, but he was efficient and did not turn the ball over a single time. He also made several plays with his mobility and athleticism, and he helped to lead his team to an upset victory.
Who should the Vikings start in Week 17 if Favre is available to play?
One game is never enough to determine if a player will be successful in this league. Webb did show enough, however, to earn another start and at least be given the opportunity to quarterback this team, especially when you consider that the Vikings have not yet found Favre's long-term replacement.
This game against the Lions is a free opportunity to give a backup quarterback a chance.
If Webb doesn't show enough to be the starter, the Vikings can keep him as a third-string emergency quarterback and look at other possible long-term starters that might be out there.
If Webb shows enough, the Vikings should do the following:
1. Cut Tarvaris Jackson.
2. Bring in a cheap veteran quarterback who has pro experience (somebody like Kerry Collins or Mark Brunell) and who could start in case Webb can't get the job done in 2011.
3. Draft a quarterback in the second or third round of next year's draft.
That way, the Vikings can give Webb the reigns to the team, but they can still have a contingency plan in case Webb does not succeed as the full-time starter.
Regardless of how they do it, the Vikings need to look at their options for the quarterback of the future, because Brett Favre will not be there next year.
Joe Webb showed the potential that he has last week. It is time for the Vikings to see what they have in the kid by giving him the start against the Lions.
Starting an injured Brett Favre and keeping Webb on the bench accomplishes nothing for the organization. It only puts Brett Favre at risk for yet another injury while giving him the chance to play in one last game.
The Vikings have a gigantic question mark at quarterback heading into the 2011 season, and maybe the answer is already on the roster.
Either way, Joe Webb, the Vikings and the fans deserve to find out.