Via Larry Brown Sports:
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joe Webb played an absolute stinker of a playoff game on Saturday, which is shocking if you actually believed the absurd hype some of NBC’s analysts tried to feed us about him before the game.
NBC was hoping for a good game between the Vikings and Green Bay Packers, but they learned Saturday that starting quarterback Christian Ponder could not play because of an elbow injury, and that Webb would be starting in his place. NBC executives may have panicked and worried that fewer people would be interested in watching Webb, who did not throw a pass the entire regular season, but luckily their analysts assured viewers that the former sixth-round pick was quite capable. Actually, they started hyping Webb like he was in the same quarterback class as Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, and as if he was a Pro Bowl candidate this season.
“No matter who plays quarterback, the goal is always to take pressure off of Adrian Peterson,” Cris Collinsworth said of the Vikings before the game. “If Christian Ponder is the quarterback, you have the threat of the play action passing game. But with Joe Webb, you have the threat of the play action passing game, and you have this read option offense which Green Bay really hasn’t had a chance to prepare for, so it’s going to be a really interesting matchup.”
When play-by-play man Al Michaels asked Collinsworth what the change meant for Green Bay, Collinsworth went even further off the Webb deep end.
“This is the third time [the Packers have] played the Minnesota Vikings in five weeks, so they come in here thinking, ‘we know everything there is to know about what they’re going to do on offense.’ And then you get this Joe Webb X-factor. There is an uncertainty going into this game now, which is going to make it really, really interesting to watch.”
“This is like Saturday night mystery theater,” added Michaels.
Saturday night mystery theater, X-factor, really interesting matchup, uncertainty — I mean shoot, the Packers should have really been worried, right?
That sort of hype about the game was nothing compared to Tony Dungy, however.
In the studio before the game, Dungy called Webb “special,” and said he gave the Vikings more of a chance to win than most people would have thought. He specifically said he liked the Vikings’ chances with Webb.
I completely agree with the analysts who thought that the read option would be a good offensive strategy to use against the Packers. The problem is that they failed to recognize that Webb is nowhere near the class of Griffin, Wilson, or Kaepernick, whose names all came up in the discussion about Webb facing Green Bay. There are good reasons why the Vikings have not fared well in games where Webb has seen significant playing time (they’re 1-5 including Saturday). He’s just not that good. We all knew it. I’m not sure why NBC’s analysts tried to bill it as anything else.
Webb’s final stats: 11-for-30, 180 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception; 68 rushing yards, 1 fumble lost, and most of his good stats came on the final two drives with the game essentially over.