It wouldn't be hard to blame Joe Webb if he was a little salty about being the No. 3 quarterback on the Vikings roster. After all, he's the only QB on the team that has ever won a game starting for the Vikings. However, his outlook as the No. 3 guy is one of excitement, not exasperation.
Thanks to new rules implemented by the new collective bargaining agreement, the third quarterback isn't automatically inactive and teams can have three QBs on the active game-day roster. For Webb, it could mean breaking out specialty packages to play to his strengths.
"I was happy when the CBA made that rule with the third quarterback situation," Webb said. "That really benefited me and this team. I think we're going to take it and run with it."
While gimmick formations like the Wildcat haven't often been employed by the Vikings (they tried it once and Brett Favre got fined for throwing a chop block leading the way for Percy Harvin), the new rules will allow Webb to showcase his talents even if he isn't on the field as the starting quarterback.
"I view it as the coaches just want to utilize my talent to help the team, to help the offense to be a lot more explosive," Webb said. "Any way to get me on the field, I'm satisfied with that."
It's been a whirlwind few nine months for Webb. He started 2011 as the team's starting quarterback and, when it became clear that neither Favre nor Tarvaris Jackson was coming back, Webb spent the first three months as the only quarterback that was going to be on the roster. Then the team drafted Christian Ponder and appointed him the franchise QB of the future. However, he and Webb were scheduled to battle it out in the preseason, so they spent most of May, June and July awaiting a competition that would materialize, but not as either had envisioned.
When the lockout ended, the Vikings traded for Donovan McNabb and the battle between Webb and Ponder was for the No. 2 spot, not the top spot. Earlier this week, the team announced that Ponder would be the No. 2 QB and Webb would be slotted at No. 3. He could have been angry about the perceived demotion, but said he can't concern himself at this early stage of his career with letting pride get in the way of learning the quarterback position in the NFL.
"I'm just doing what I can control – just going out there and playing my game. The decision that was made was made by the coaches. I can't control that. I just continue to work on my craft and get better."
Ponder said he views the competition much the same way, believing that he, McNabb and Webb are all competing to win the starting job – even though reality dictates a different scenario.
"Any time you have a Hall of Fame-type quarterback like Donovan McNabb, young quarterbacks like Joe and I can learn a lot from him," Ponder said. "I don't think it matters who is No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 on the depth chart, we're all playing for the Minnesota Vikings and all have the same goal. Joe and I are preparing like we're going to start, because you never know what will happen. You can get thrown into the game at any time. I just think with Joe's experience in running a Wildcat type formation, he will get his chance to get on the field – probably more than me. If it helps us win, we're all good with the decision."
While Brad Childress and Darrell Bevell eschewed the Wildcat, new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has been drawing up plays since last spring to utilize Webb's unique talents as a runner and passer. He said it's been exciting to see what new plays have been devised for him to run.
"It's kind of fun to see what Bill Musgrave has in store for me," Webb said. "Right now I think he's doing a great job utilizing his weapons, just putting playmakers on the field."
Webb didn't bristle at the thought of being listed in the game program as an athlete instead of a quarterback, because, as it currently stands, he could line up as a quarterback, a running back, a wide receiver or even on special teams. Last year, he got tired of being asked if he considered himself a quarterback. He did. He still does. However, with the Vikings planning to use him rather than have him as the inactive No. 3 quarterback, Webb said he's willing to play wherever he is asked if it means getting into the game with a chance to help the team win. That's all he's asked for since he arrived from Alabama-Birmingham and, even if it's in a cameo role with a couple plays here or there, it's better than nothing.
"It doesn't matter man," Webb said of his role in the offense. "At the end of the day, if you're on the field, just make a play."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Webb good with any contributing role
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