Tuesday, December 1, 2015

joe webb

Report:  Sometimes headlines are misleading.

An NFL.com article was headlined “Joe Webb will switch to wideout for Minnesota Vikings” on Sunday which led many to assume, you know, that the Minnesota Vikings were going to switch Joe Webb to wideout again.

That, however, may not be the case.

The source for this “report” comes from a Sid Hartman article in which Leslie Frazier gave a typical non-committal non-answer answer when asked about the possibility of once again moving Webb to another role in the offense.

“[Webb] is such a talented athlete that we want to make sure that we’re doing the right thing by him and our team, as well,” Hartman quoted Frazier. “That’s something we’ll continue to discuss as we go forward.”

Perhaps the league’s official site should have written a more responsible headline.  “Frazier Doesn’t Rule Out Webb At WR” would’ve been a little less deceiving.

Regardless, things are a little slow right now, so bring on some good old Joe Webb debate!

The Minnesota Vikings were patient, waiting for quarterback Matt Cassel to be released instead of trying to trade for him, and that patience has paid off.

Cassel was signed to a two year worth about $4 million per year, according to Viking Update, with a potential to earn more through incentives. Cassel also reportedly has the right to void the contract after the 2013 season.

Cassel represents the first NFL player the Vikings have signed who wasn’t one of their own since free agency began on Tuesday.  Some national experts are reporting that Cassel will compete with Christian Ponder for the starting quarterback spot, but local media is brushing that off since the Vikings are so invested into Ponder, and I tend to think Ponder will be the guy without a doubt.

With that being said, Cassel presents the Vikings with some flexibility at the position.  Joe Webb and McLeod Bethel-Thompson will currently be in line to compete for the number three spot, but one will surely be sent packing as a result of this move, and some speculation that makes sense centers around trying to trade Joe Webb to an option offense team.  The situation will get even more interesting if the Vikings take a page out the Seattle Seahawks playbook in 2012 and decide to use one of their 11 draft picks on a quarterback, as well.

The signing of Cassel come on a day when reciever Greg Jennings is reportedly meeting with the team in Minnesota, and linebacker Brian Urlacher is reportedly of interest, which shows an interesting shift in priorities for the Vikings front office.  It was widely assumed that Rick Spielman and his staff would continue to pursue younger players with upside, as they did last season in an effort to rebuild the roster, but so far most of the serious interest seems to be in veterans.

Cassel is 30 years old.

Joe Webb went from “too talented not to have on the field” to “get him out of here” as fast as any player not involved in a scandal that I can think of.

That will happen, of course, when you put up a stinker the way Webb did in the Wild Card round, against the Packers, that resulted in a 54.9 quarterback rating and a loss.  The quarterback rating doesn’t describe just how bad Webb’s performance was, however, as most of the good came after a whole ton of bad and when Green Bay’s defense had already declared victory.

Many assume that Webb’s inability to show up in the big game means he will be gone as soon as the Vikings can find a replacement.  I don’t think that is necessarily the case.

Besides having all of the same excuses that Christian Ponder has benefitted from this season, such as depleted receiver options and an offensive coordinator that inexplicably went away from his strengths, Webb presents unique value in 2013.

That value stems from a point that I plan on beating to death this offseason: the Vikings have a ton of mobile quarterbacks on their 2013 schedule, as I pointed out here.  All six of the Vikings losses in 2012 came against shifty quarterbacks and they project to play nine games against mobile quarterbacks next year, and that isn’t even counting what Chip Kelly manages to put together in Philadelphia.

That means the Vikings defense has to improve in this area.  Of course a big part of that will consist of offseason personnel moves such as upgrading at linebacker and keeping Antoine Winfield in the fold.  Other than putting the best players on the field to keep these quarterbacks from taking off, preparation in also going to be key.

Who better to prepare a defense, by running the scout team, than a fleet footed, option running quarterback like Webb?

Webb is sure to never be as good as Cam Newton or RGIII, but if he can at least be effective at pretending to be them then he may already have a role carved out for him that keeps him on the roster in 2013.

Besides, at a salary of $575,000, it is hard not justifying him sticking around as an asset to not the offense, but the defense.

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It took about a whole two, maybe three, hours before the disappointment from getting our butts handed to us via the Green Bay Packers vanished and the excitement for the offseason completely consumed me. Free agents? The draft?! Possible trades? Veterans leaving? New talent?

I love it.

Don’t get me wrong, I was as bummed about the loss as the next hardcore Vikings fan (well, maybe not as much as this guy…) but the postseason letdown didn’t feel as bad this time. Maybe it was because deep down I knew once it was announced Christian Ponder wouldn’t be starting that we would lose the game and then the next three to four hours was just a realization of that fact. Maybe it’s because nothing could have happened in the playoffs that would take away from what an amazing season 2012 was. (And, folks, it was an amazing football season.) Who knows, really.

What I do know is that I was, and am, at peace with what the Vikings did this year and what I think they’ll do in the near future.

There’s a lot to be excited about with this team. There’s a ton to look forward to this offseason and some great stories to look out for.

Here are five of the biggest stories headed into the offseason. Stories that we will be covering in [exhausting] detail here at Vikings Territory, I’m sure. Of course, there will always be a few (maybe more) developments that catch us all by surprise. You can be sure we’ll have those, too.

(Note: These do not include general things like “the draft” or “free agency.” It’s a given those will be huge. I tried to think of specific storylines that will provide intrigue, mystery and excitement.)

5. The New Stadium

I almost didn’t include the stadium on the list because it seems that, now that we’ve got our stadium, it’s more of a “I don’t care how it happens, just get it here” type thing. But, after Adam mentioned it to me when I queried the inner-workings of his very knowledgeable Vikings mind, I started to see why it could become something we talk about frequently during the offseason.

It shouldn’t be long until we start seeing a real design for this thing.  And that will be pretty dang cool. We’ll finally get to see what this thing will look like. What features it will have. Does it have a retractable roof? Seat warmers? Does it have a mammoth monitor floating eerily above the ant-sized players a hundred or so feet below? Who knows.

It will be something tangible at that point. Something we can look at and say, “Okay. So that’s going to be where I take my children to watch my Minnesota Vikings a few years from now.” (Maybe more if you’re me).

It’s been an idea up until this point. A finalized design that we can see is a big step to it becoming a real, real reality. (A real one.)

4. Backup Quarterback Backup Plan

Christian Ponder’s late season surge (and potentially even his absence from the playoff game at Lambeau) solidified his role as the Vikings starter at quarterback next season. Head coach Leslie Frazier has even already made it public. That’s all good and fine, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Vikings still need to figure some things out at the quarterback position during the offseason.

I’m not going to torch Joe Webb too much because I honestly feel like he’s better than what he showed Saturday in Green Bay. The guy was thrown into an incredibly difficult situation under an offensive coordinator who remained steadfast in his stubborn ways and refused to adjust his game plan to increase the likelihood of success for Webb. Nevertheless, I don’t think Joe Webb is somebody who can really threaten Ponder for the starting position and light a fire under his butt, so to speak.

I think Ponder is going to be a good quarterback with a little more development. I take a lot of heat for that position but I’ve held it since he was drafted and I still hold it today. But I’ll be the first one to tell you that it is not a sure thing. He is not a sure thing. And the Vikings need to have a Plan B just in case it doesn’t pan out with #7.

Personally, I’d like Spielman and Co. to do some superb scouting and find a quarterback in the middle rounds who has a lot of upside. It’s also possible the team could just to go the free agent route. (Also, let’s not kid ourselves, it’s entirely possible the Vikings could not address it at all…)

Nevertheless, I think how the roster shapes up behind Ponder is something to keep an eye on.

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The Vikings, led by backup quarterback Joe Webb, got their asses kicked at Lambeau Field in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

There really is no nicer way to put it than that without being dishonest.  The game was a debacle in all phases of the game.  Embarrassing production on offense, deadly mistakes on defense, turnovers coming from the special teams, and a coaching staff that seemed outmatched nearly the whole time.

With that being said, Saturday night’s letdown is just one black mark in what was otherwise a very pleasant surprise of a season, with the Vikings netting 10 wins after getting just three the season prior.

The Vikings accomplished many of their stated goals in 2012.  They kept Ponder upright for 16 games in an effort to gauge his progression.   The offensive line improved with players that never once had to miss a start.  The running game was one of the best that the world has ever seen, with Adrian Peterson making a very convincing bid to be the NFL’s MVP.

On defense, Alan Williams put together one of the better looking secondaries, albeit lacking depth, that Vikings fans have seen in years and years.  The pass rush was fairly consistent and the run defense was usually fairly stout, with only a select few exceptions in each area.

The special teams unit was overall one of the best in the NFL.

Following a phenomenal Draft from Rick Spielman, and Eric Sugarman earning every penny of his salary in keeping this squad relatively healthy, the Vikings are certainly a lot further along in their rebuilding process than almost anybody expected.

With that being said, there is not a position on this roster that couldn’t stand to be improved, other than kicker, and the Vikings now have another offseason full of opportunity to get even better.  They have an offseason to evaluate the coaching staff, search for free agents, prepare for the NFL Draft, and continue to develop their current talent.

While I was hoping not to be starting this for a few more weeks, the offseason unfortunately does begin today, and we here at VT are excited to do you the favor of filling it full of analysis, irresponsible speculation, rumor mongering, and discussion.

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