Scoggins: Playmaker who rarely plays vexes Vikings

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 13, 2011 - 8:16 AM

Coaches see Joe Webb's dynamic athleticism, but where and how much should he get in?

Joe Webb became a YouTube hit before the 2010 NFL draft when he jumped over seven blocking dummies stacked on top of each other in a single bound.

That show of athleticism was pretty unreal, but you also wondered how the Vikings would utilize him to maximize his talents. Nothing has changed in that regard.

Webb provided another snapshot of his unique talent Sunday in relief of struggling rookie Christian Ponder in a 34-28 loss at Detroit. Entering early in the second half, Webb became the first Vikings quarterback to rush for more than 100 yards in a game, thanks largely to his 65-yard touchdown run.

He also passed for one touchdown, consistently avoided pressure and turned broken plays into positive gains by freelancing when the situation called for it.

Webb lamented a breakdown on the final play that prevented the Vikings from completing the comeback, but both locker rooms were gushing with praise after his one-man show. Those wanting to see more of Webb had a cold bucket of water dumped on their hopes, though, as coach Leslie Frazier declared postgame that Ponder remains the starter.

The Vikings promoted Webb to No. 2 quarterback after they released Donovan McNabb, but he can and should have a bigger role somehow.

Webb is an enigma because his skill set doesn't fit into one box. How many NFL quarterbacks have returned a kickoff? Webb did once last season, the first kickoff return ever by a Vikings quarterback.

Webb might not be accurate enough as a passer to become a starting quarterback. He's not a full-time wide receiver either, at least not in the team's opinion.

The Vikings designed the "Blazer" package specifically for Webb to use his dual-threat ability. Give them credit for trying to be creative, but how many times can they realistically line up in that formation in a game? A few snaps a game in that role doesn't allow Webb to establish any kind of rhythm.

Webb considers himself a quarterback. He's just not their quarterback of the future.

"I feel like that's my natural position," he said. "I feel the coaches believe I'm a quarterback. They haven't moved me back to receiver full time or another position full time so I thank the coaches for having confidence in me to continue to have me at quarterback."

Maybe this is just what he is, a backup quarterback for now. But then you watch Webb sprint away from defenders or elude trouble with a stutter-step and quick burst. You see the way Lions defenders were gasping for air late in that game. Isn't there more Webb can do than just stand on the sideline waiting for an occasional Blazer play call?

"He is for sure one of our playmakers, so it's something we will continue to explore," Frazier said. "We have some packages that we use sporadically. Maybe we go a little bit deeper with some of those packages."

It's worth a try. Webb might be the Vikings' best pure athlete, although Percy Harvin probably would have something to say about that. The team drafted Webb to play wide receiver but moved him to quarterback -- his position in college -- before his rookie season.

In either role, his athleticism puts stress on defenses.

"I've always respected his abilities," Frazier said. "His ability to get out of trouble, make plays, just create things when there's nothing else there. He makes things happen."

Webb gave a glimpse of that under odd circumstances in Philadelphia last season. He got the emergency start and performed better than anyone anticipated, perhaps even internally, in a 24-14 road victory.

Webb remains inconsistent throwing the ball, which was evident in some of his passes Sunday. He's still far from a finished product in that area. But he also creates problems because of his ability to break containment or draw defenders to him before finding an open receiver. The Lions used a designated player to track Webb on the final few drives.

"I believe everybody was spying me, especially after the touchdown run," he said.

Webb still found room to maneuver, which speaks to his talent but also his awareness of what's happening around him. Webb returns to his backup role this week, provided Ponder's hip pointer doesn't flare up. Frazier made it clear there is no quarterback controversy.

That's understandable, but we'd still like to see more of Webb.

The tricky part is figuring out how. And where.

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta - WP: A. Harang 11 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 3
Houston - WP: J. Fields 7 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: D. Robertson 4
Seattle - WP: H. Iwakuma 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett 2
Arizona - LP: C. Anderson 1 FINAL
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 8
LA Angels - WP: J. Smith 4 FINAL
Boston - LP: K. Uehara 3
Detroit - WP: J. Johnson 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: G. Balfour 6
Texas - LP: N. Cotts 3 FINAL
Miami - WP: S. Dyson 4
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: T. Wada 2
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 5 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Quintana 1
Cleveland - WP: K. Crockett 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: B. Duensing 5
Toronto - LP: J. Happ 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Fiers 6
Cincinnati - LP: J. Hoover 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: P. Neshek 5
Kansas City - WP: J. Shields 7 FINAL
Colorado - LP: T. Matzek 4
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 2 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Kazmir 6
San Diego - LP: I. Kennedy 6 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: K. Correia 8
Pittsburgh 8/21/14 6:30 PM
Philadelphia
Carolina 8/22/14 6:30 PM
New England
NY Giants 8/22/14 6:30 PM
NY Jets
Jacksonville 8/22/14 6:30 PM
Detroit
Oakland 8/22/14 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Chicago 8/22/14 9:00 PM
Seattle
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Montreal 8/22/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who would you rather have on your team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close