Joe Webb is not a starting quarterback in the NFL. It is that simple.
Some people may disagree with that statement, especially those that watched him this past Sunday against the Lions or saw him lead the Vikings to an improbable Monday night win over the Philadelphia Eagles last year.
Joe Webb is a fantastic athlete. A former quarterback at UAB, Webb was originally drafted by the Vikings as a wide receiver. He jumps really high. He runs really fast.
But he is not a starting quarterback.
First of all, Joe Webb has thrown only one career touchdown pass in the NFL. That includes preseason games as well. That touchdown came towards the end of the fourth quarter this past week against the Detroit Lions. One touchdown pass in 114 attempts. Not many starting quarterbacks in the NFL have that low of a pass-to-touchdown ratio.
As you can probably imagine by looking at that previous stat, Webb isn’t that great of a passer. There is a reason he was thought to be a receiver by scouts coming out of college. There is a reason that the Vikings went with untested rookie Christian Ponder after they benched Donovan McNabb.
Joe Webb is like JJ Barea; a great change of pace guy that other teams aren’t quite sure how to play against him. If teams don’t know when Joe Webb is coming into the game, it is very difficult to scheme against him.
Detroit spent all week game planning for Christian Ponder. Now all of a sudden Ponder gets hurt and in comes Joe Webb. Webb and Ponder have two very different styles of play. While Ponder is quite athletic himself, he is a pass-first quarterback who looks to stay in the pocket and complete passes downfield. Webb is a guy who likes to break contain and make plays with his feet or find a receiver who has been able to break free from coverage somewhere in the 10-15 yard range due to his ability to break contain.
If teams have a full week to game plan and multiple game tapes to study against Joe Webb, he would not be nearly as effective as he would coming off the bench. Teams would be able to install a linebacker to spy him, take away underneath throws, and force Webb to throw the ball in difficult spots down field.
Joe Webb is a great backup quarterback. He is a change of pace guy that other teams can’t afford to game plan against just in case he comes into the game. He is a different style of quarterback than most others in the league. There are few like him, but there is a reason for that. There is a reason that there aren’t many starting quarterbacks in the NFL like Joe Webb. It just doesn’t work. Athletic quarterbacks who rely on their legs more than their arms don’t last. Teams have found a way to defend against it.
Should Joe Webb have started against Detroit in the first place last week? Probably, yes. Did he instantly make the Vikings a better and more exciting team when he entered the game? Yes, he was a better QB that day than Christian Ponder.
Should another NFL team look for Joe Webb to be their starting quarterback? No, at least not for now.
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