Sunday slant: Worth sticking with Webb

Joe Webb looked the part of an inexperienced rookie quarterback last week, but he's worth riding out the rest of the season with to see how he reacts with more experience.

No one expects Joe Webb to turn into Michael Vick. Of course, no one expected Vick to be the legitimate frontrunner for NFL MVP.

All Vick was expected to be since early in his career was a running quarterback. Somewhere along the way, however, Vick matured after reaching rock bottom. He learned how to be a professional and he found a seasoned coach willing to give him another chance when he was in prison.

"I went through some things with my kids so I know a little bit about the prison system and how it works and a little bit about the guys in there," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "I visited for a couple years over there and got a chance to talk to a lot of people. They're good people there that put themselves in bad positions. The prison system's set up, and they do a great job with this, they try to teach these guys and ladies how to get back into society and function at a high level. If a person listens and wants to do that, then that's a good thing. Michael was one of those guys. He wanted to do the right thing when he came out and he didn't ever want to go back there. That's the way he's approached it. "

Webb has no such problems. Of course, Webb didn't enter the league with the expectations – or apparent baggage of Vick. Webb and Vick both have a strong arm and great athleticism on the run. What Webb doesn't have is Vick's experience. He also might not have Vick's potential from early on, but he is worth developing to see what he could turn into.

So far, Webb has shown little. He looked hesitant and unsure of himself Monday night when facing a blitzing Bears defense that didn't have to worry about Adrian Peterson. The Bears were intent on pressuring Webb with a lead in hand and his lack of experience showed. In other words, he looked like a rookie getting his first extensive action.

He also showed some of his athleticism when he went on a 13-yard scramble and dove for the pylon and a touchdown.

"When he was our scout-team quarterback," Frazier told the Philadelphia media, "there were moments when he was Michael Vick-like; just moving around and running around and making people miss. He has those qualities."

That hyperbole at this point, but it's far too early to give up on a young quarterback big in stature with a strong arm and speed to burn. One cold-weather game without his main running back or either of his starting two guards is hardly a fair judge of Webb's potential, and he said the right thing in assessing his performance.

"We lost. No quarterback wants to lead his team to a loss. I've got a long way to go. It's a long process," Webb said. "Hopefully I can get in the film room, study and learn from my mistakes."

This Sunday night might not be a fair judge of Webb's ability either, as the Vikings head in overmatched and one of the biggest underdogs they've been in a long time. At best, it will be interesting to see if he can keep plays alive long enough to find Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice and exploit an overzealous Eagles defense. In fact, he might be the best quarterback on the Vikings roster to handle the Eagles – his inexperience won't help, but his quickness is likely to get the Vikings sporadic ground gains throughout the game.

No one is suggesting Webb is the solution to the Vikings' quarterback issues of the future, but with the playoffs gone long ago, Webb is worth the look in the final two games and worth another year of seasoning.


Who wants to be Leslie Frazier? OK, so after inheriting a wounded team that has little to play for, try explaining away a 40-14 loss to the Chicago Bears to your boss, owner Zygi Wilf.

That's what Frazier had to do last week.

"I have talked to them about that ballgame and pretty much went through what they saw and just talked through it," Frazier said.

"I didn't sense (Wilf was) upset. We didn't discuss my future. We just talked in general terms about the game, like we did with the Washington game, the Buffalo game, the New York game. We do it after each game."


  • One player on offense who could be in line for a solid game is tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. This week, Philadelphia's starting middle linebacker, Stewart Bradley, is out. Last week, Shiancoe had six catches, many of them when the game was already out of control, but it might have been a catalyst for Webb to learn what a good option Shiancoe is in the middle of the field. It was the first time since Week 2 that Shiancoe had at least six receptions, but you won't find him lobbying coaches.

    "It's not in a player's place to say these type of things. Whatever they ask me to do I'm just going to do," he said. "When they call my number, I'll definitely be available for that route or whatever it is."

  • Defensively, a player to watch could be end Ray Edwards. Jared Allen is usually the defensive end coming up on a quarterback's blind side. This week, however, with the left-handed Vick in the backfield, Edwards is hoping to get his chance to sneak up on the passer before releasing the ball.

    "Now I'm at his blindside while Jared is usually at his blindside with a lot of other quarterbacks. Vick's left-handed. Hopefully he doesn't see me coming and I can pick up some of the sacks I've left out there from the previous games," Edwards said.

    "I've been watching film and left a lot of sacks out there. I think I left three out there Sunday. Just not finishing or not getting to make the play. Me playing left end, they see me coming most of the time because everybody's a right-handed quarterback, so they're definitely looking at me coming. It's just trying to make things happen and finish the season strong."

  • Count Pat Williams among the viewers who were impressed at the Eagles' fourth-quarter comeback against the New York Giants last Sunday.

    "That was great. That was amazing. They're going to be hard to stop," said Williams, whose quotes are usually filled with much more bravado. "We're just going to have to try to contain them. We can't stop them."

  • According to the gambling web site, odds on Vick becoming league MVP are 3/2, trailing only Tom Brady at 1/2. Last week, Bodog featured odds on what kind of dog Vick would buy. Ouch.

  • Bodog didn't even have Adrian Peterson in its top five favorites to lead the NFL in rushing. In order of the odds, the favorites were Houston's Arian Foster, Kansas City's Jamaal Charles, Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, Tennessee's Chris Johnson and Atlanta's Michael Turner.

  • A final Bodog item of interest to Vikings fans: Donovan McNabb is 5/2 to be the Vikings' starting quarterback in Game 1 next year. The rest of the options listed for McNabb in Week 1 of the 2011 season: Starting for the Redskins (7/1), starting for the Cardinals (4/1), starting for the 49ers (15/2), starting for any other NFL team (3/2), backup for any NFL team (7/2) and not on an NFL roster (15/1).

  • According to the NFL, if snow removed from TCF Bank Stadium two weeks ago was on a typical city sidewalk, it would have been three feet deep for 65 miles. That was 40,000 cubic yards of snow that took 15,000 man hours to clear. That's one way for economic stimulus.

  • Final slant: You think Brett Favre would have lasted even half of his 297-game streak of consecutive regular-season starts if the NFL's standards on concussions had been in place since 1992?

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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