The Vikings' coaching staff made a concerted effort since the end of the 2011 season to have Webb concentrate on quarterback rather than take occasional reps at wide receiver. After a full offseason of 10 organized team activities, the three-day minicamp, additional work in the film room and the bulk of training camp behind him, Webb's preseason debut left something to be desired, but Bill Musgrave still believes Webb can a quarterback long-term in the NFL.
"Joe's a heck of a leader. As you know, the team really rallies around him. He works at it. He's in the meeting room all the time and is really attentive to detail," the offensive coordinator said.
Webb got the majority of the playing time Friday night against the San Francisco 49ers. Starter Christian Ponder played two series, going 4-for-9 with two or three dropped passes and two throwaways while leading the Vikings to two field goals on those drives. Webb played five series, generating four first downs and no points, although he was dealing with a sometimes-suspect second-team offensive line.
"It's always going to be difficult, but you've got to keep giving your guys confidence and let your offensive line know I have trust in them and let them do their job," Webb said. "Come out and get better this week and hopefully this game will be better."
In assessing Webb's "up and down performance," head coach Leslie Frazier took into account the shaky protection at times.
"Part of what he dealt with was, so many things, so many guys in front of him were not able to do (their job) and that affected some of the things he wanted to do at the quarterback position. We fully expect him to keep progressing at the quarterback position," Frazier said. "He's probably the least experienced of all of our quarterbacks as far as playing the position over a long period of time. You just have to continue to let him get reps and let him development. Joe is a big-play guy as we all know, so he'll make his share of plays."
The Vikings drafted Webb as a sixth-round receiver in 2010, despite him playing the majority of his college career at quarterback at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. But when then-coach Brad Childress saw Webb throw at the end of the team's rookie minicamp, he made the decision to move Webb to quarterback.
However, the Vikings never truly committed to him at that position and became intrigued with the possibility of Webb as a receiver or using him in the so-called Blazer package last year that attempted to take advantage of his running skills as much as his ability to throw the ball.
"I've improved a lot just focusing on the one quarterback position instead of going back and forth," Webb said Tuesday. "I got better and I think I improved from the pass when I first came in. I've still got a long ways to go."
Ponder came away from his film study of last season looking to stay in the pocket longer and find his second and third receiving options more often. Webb, who finished 4-for-11 for only 20 yards and was sacked twice, realizes there is work ahead for him to become a more efficient pocket passer.
"I'm just still working on it, day by day. Just trying to get better each day, progress through my reads, sit in the pocket when I need to sit in there and deliver the ball," he said. "That time will come when I need to pull it down and run. That's my focus right now, just keep working on it."
Said Musgrave: "I just think Joe will get better and better. We know what Joe can do. We've got to make sure we can enhance Joe's limitations in the pocket. He doesn't have a lot of time on task playing quarterback in the pocket and we want to make sure that we don't just paint him into a corner where he can only do this. Joe's tall; he has a good release. We think he can be more effective in the pocket than he has been in the past."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.