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Okay… We Should Talk About Joe Webb

At 6′ 4″ and 220 pounds, Joe Webb is an inch taller and 15 pounds heavier than first round rookie Cordarrelle Patterson.  In fact, outside of long shots Rodney Smith and Chris Summers, Webb is the biggest wideout on the roster.  Both Webb and Patterson are considered raw, each potentially having the “project” label applied to them at Winter Park, and both could be competing for the same reps heading into 2013.

After failing miserably to get the Vikings a playoff victory last season, the Vikings have moved Webb to wideout, but the depth chart is suddenly very crowded.  Greg Jennings, when healthy, is sure to occupy a starters position considering his talent, experience, and the investment made to put him in purple.  Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright both have more experience than the young pair and seem to be locks to eat up roster spots heading into this season.  Stephen Burton is someone the Vikings haven’t given up on yet and Greg Childs could throw a wrinkle into things if he is deemed healthy enough to contribute in the preseason.

As of today, the Vikings have 12 wideouts on the roster, and it is safe to say that total will be cut in half by the time the regular season rolls around.  Jennings, Simpson, Wright, and Patterson will surely eat up four of those spots leaving Webb to compete for one or two of the possible spots that would remain.

Last season, when Webb was made to be the backup quarterback only, reports surfaced from beat writers that he was having trouble catching the ball and running routes in practice.  According to multiple reports from this week’s sessions that were open to the media, however, Webb displayed excellent hands and was consistently snatching the ball with the proper away-from-the-body technique.  According to Kevin Seifert, he even was helping rookies learn where they were supposed to line up, suggesting he has a solid grasp of the playbook at this point.

“He has very good hands. He knows the offense very well. He’s actually helping some of the young guys in where to line up at,” Leslie Frazier said of Webb. “Knowing how hard he works and knowing how much he wants to succeed as a receiver, he’ll have a very good chance of getting that done.”

Webb recently talked about how often he has had to change positions throughout his football career, including in high school and college, but he isn’t looking for any sort of sympathy.

“I just like football. I have a passion for the game. I’ve been playing it since I was a little kid. It’s a blessing to be out here on the field. Some guys graduate from college and don’t get a chance to come out here on an NFL field,” Webb said. “I’m just happy for the moment and just trying to take advantage of it.”

Patterson has already laid claim to one of the areas where Webb could potentially help the Vikings, as he has been named the go-to kick returner, and the nature of the NFL business means Patterson is likely to enjoy more chances to succeed at wideout than Webb because of where they were drafted.  Webb and Patterson, and Jarius Wright too for that matter, are essentially competing for the same reps within the offense.

Each possesses similar skills in the open field to Percy Harvin, and could be used the same way Harvin was on manufactured touches like bubble screens, but having three guys to fill this role would seem a little excessive despite the loss of Harvin to Seattle.  Webb is going to have to establish himself in some other fashion, perhaps as a redzone threat where he capitalizes on his height, in order to earn one of the few remaining spots on the depth chart.

Back in January, I suggested that Webb had value to the Vikings as a practice team quarterback capable of emulating any of the many mobile quarterbacks on their 2013 schedule, but using him in this fashion could also prevent him from focusing on being a polished receiver.  I still think Webb is an excellent option to run the practice team, and get the Vikings defense used to chasing down the likes of RGIII and Russell Wilson, but I am now less convinced that this will be enough reason to keep him on the roster.

The Vikings coaching staff, mainly receivers coach George Stewart, must really devote the time needed to find out just what they have in Webb.  It seems fair to say that we know he isn’t an NFL quarterback, so this preseason they need to give him all possible reasons to succeed as a wideout, or else it might be time to cut ties with one of the most popular players on the roster.

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. so now he can catch, lol

    not a word in the press about ponder’s ‘improvement’

    1. Your going to probably have to wait till Training camp to really start hearing about Ponder.

  2. I’m glad to hear about his new-found talent at catching balls. Word was he had brick hands.
    With his size, speed and athleticism, there should be a place for him.

    Any word on Ponder lately, as far as how his throwing is going?

  3. why not try Webb out at MLB too? Wonder if Erin Henderson has brick hands …… hmmmmm…..

  4. Give him a chance!! You sound ready to throw dirt on Webb. All the chances the big pussy Ponder gets with some of you fans, I’m glad you’re not the coaches. They’ll keep Webb.

    1. “Big Pussy”? I think you’ve confused Ponder with a character from the TV show, The Sopranos.
      Big Pussy didn’t have brick hands but he ended up in concrete overshoes.

    2. Big Pussy? WTF? You know how many man hours I’ve logged painting him as Big Reach? Then you come in here not even recognizing that, and throwing around Big Pussy like it’s going out of business?

      I’m flummoxed.

      1. That’s ok Tomb, he’ll always be the Big Reach (As far as you’re concerned) here at VT. . .Until the first couple games this season, when hopefully he’ll be forever known as SOD (Steal Of the Draft)
        Ok, ok, that may be the REAL big reach. . .

      1. Thanks Fran. It’s nice to know someone appreciates the associated rigors of proper labelling. It’d be funny if his wife ran with the meme and dubbed him the Big Reacharound.

        I’m just sayin…

  5. And Burton sucks!. He’s like Jaymar Johnson: has never, will never make a play. His career highlight will be that lucky tipped pass last year.

  6. Webb is not a polished WR and he is not a polished QB… but that doesn’t mean he is not a dynamic playmaker.

    Webb may need to be used in many different ways to get the most value from him.

    Trying to make Webb a franchise QB or #1 WR is NOT realistic!

    Webb needs to be used as a #4 or 5 WR that can step in for Patterson or Simpson when needed.
    He also should be used as a practice team QB that can take QB snaps in games if Ponder and Cassell get hurt.

    Webb has roster value if he is used properly.

    Musgrave used Webb successfully as a QB against the Packers in the first series of the playoff loss I don’t understand why we can’t see some more of that (read option attack) and… Webb on a few bubble screens and sweeps as a backup WR?

    Webb will never be a true #1 WR or QB… But I think he is a great weapon as a backup WR and change of pace/emergency QB.

  7. Practice squad will NOT work for Webb. Practice squad is only for players in their 1st 3 years in the league. This is Webb’s 4th year, if he wants to stay with the Vikings. He has to make the roster this year. I think Webb has more upside than Burton and summers, so I think he will make the roster. Although the loser of the receiving corps might get released or placed on practice squad if Childs come back to the team from injury reserve.

    1. Running the practice team (or scout team as many refer to it) is not the same as being placed on the practice squad.

      1. Another side note on P-squad QB’s, I don’t believe the Vikes have tried to put a QB on the squad since they lost Thigpen many years ago. They learned their lesson on that, if they have a QB they like, he’s staying on the active roster. They did it with Webb his first few seasons and with MBT last year.

        1. Dan, I agree but I think this year might be different… unless MBT or Vandenberg have a great preseason, I think the Vikings will try to keep one of those guys on the practice squad.

          As soon as a team is interest in one of them, the Vikings could move them up to the roster if they needed to.

          1. They kept MBT over Sage last year, if he’s the third guy I don’t see them cutting him. If Vandenberg shows a little something and they decide to move on from MBT as the #3 then I agree that Vandenberg would be a practice squad guy. Vandenberg doesn’t have any elite traits that would likely trigger a team to claim him. If Webb does make the team as a receiver I could definitely see them going with just Ponder and Cassel on the active roster, but they would need to lose faith in MBT. Remember, Cassel may end up being one and done here, MBT could be the heir apparent #2 for beyond this season.