Rebuilding the Vikings: Quarterback
The first installment of “Rebuilding the Vikings” centers around arguably the most important position on the team; the quarterback.
As is the way the team has been operating for several years, veteran quarterbacks are brought in to hopefully extend their careers and give them one last shot to make the playoffs. Last season, the Vikings looked to Donovan McNabb to attempt to provide a veteran presence to start until rookie Christian Ponder had absorbed the playbook and was deemed ready to start.
The hope was that his one abysmal season in Washington was just a fluke and that McNabb and the team would bounce back. He was also acquired to show the veteran players still on the team that their goal was to reach the playoffs.
The result was nothing short of a disaster. McNabb was pedestrian at best and was replaced after a 1-4 start. He frequently showed a lack of accuracy as well as a lack of leadership, becoming vocally upset about his benching after Ponder was given the chance to start. Thankfully the Vikings have Christian Ponder in place to hopefully be their starting quarterback for the next decade or more. Ponder wowed with his ability to stay calm under pressure in his first start against the then undefeated Green Bay Packers. Even though the game resulted in a loss there was still hope for the future. Ponder then delivered a win against Carolina the following week.
The end of the season was shortened for Ponder due to injuries and rookie mistakes. His overall numbers were 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, which is not necessarily on the same level of other rookie quarterbacks like Cam Newton or Andy Dalton, but is still good for a rookie quarterback. Two of the main problems facing the Vikings last year were a lack of playmakers around Ponder as well as very inconsistent play by the offensive line. Other than Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin the Vikings lack big play potential. Rookie Kyle Rudolph has showed promise, but wasn’t able to show many of his skills due to the presence of Visante Schiancoe. His impending departure should free up playing time for Rudolph. The team needs more than that however to provide a punch on offense.
But since this is the quarterback edition of “Rebuilding the Vikings” we will focus on that spot. With Ponder locked in we will focus more on someone that could be brought in to provide injury insurance should Ponder sustain an injury during the year.
Here are some candidates:
Joe Webb– Webb has been a curious case over the past few seasons. He is a run-first, pass-second oriented quarterback who is more known to extend plays with his legs than his arm. But with all of the quarterbacks the Vikings have had in front of him, the only time he is able to showcase his skills is in relief of a rout or an emergency start. Webb has come up with clutch performances the last few years, most notably against the Philadelphia Eagles two seasons ago. Webb also had electric games against the Lions and Redskins this past season. The Vikings have tried to incorporate him into the offense more, but the “Blazer” package they have featured him in is extremely predictable. Another idea that has been thrown around is to switch him to another position, and that was tried on a few occasions this past year.
Gut Feeling– I fully expect him to enter the season as the primary backup for Christian Ponder.
Due to the fact that both quarterbacks are young, here are some candidates to provide veteran leadership/injury insurance:
Shaun Hill– Hill is a veteran quarterback who briefly played for the Vikings in 2005. He is more notably known for being Matthew Stafford’s backup over the past few seasons. He filled in for Stafford in 2010 and finished the year with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Hill possesses a big arm and would bring the ability to stretch the field if he were ever needed to fill in. More importantly he would provide a veteran presence to mentor Ponder and Webb.
Gut Feeling– While Hill would be a good addition, the lack of playing time he would get would probably lead him to seek other opportunities.
Mark Brunell– Brunell has been Mark Sanchez’s backup in New York over the past few seasons. Before that Brunell had several productive seasons for Jacksonville as well as Washington. Brunell at this point in his career is looking to hook on with a contending team, but could be swayed to sign to mentor the Vikings young quarterbacks.
Gut Feeling– Brunell signs a 1 year deal to mentor Ponder and Webb.
In summary this is how I think the Vikings quarterback situation will look next season:
Mark Brunell-3rd string
Stay tuned for the next installment when I look at the running back position.