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My second thoughts on the Vikings victory over the Philadelphia Wimps…

YOUNG JOE WEBB’S GAME
Against the Chicago Bears, Joe Webb would often set his feet and stare down his receiver for a second as if assure himself that the guy was open before delivering the ball. I didn’t see as much of that hesitation on Tuesday night.

That’s a significant improvement because it will reduce the chances for an interception and help to keep his receivers from getting clobbered. When receivers are consistently hung out to dry, they tend to not go after as many passes as they would otherwise.

We’ve seen Webb throw an accurate long ball. We’ve seen him throw a bullet on an out route and down the seam and we saw him throw a nice fade for a touchdown that was taken off the board after review.

But Webb still needs to work on throwing a bullet to his receivers on the wide receiver screen and on the swing pass rather than the soft toss we’ve seen him throw that allows defenders time to make a play.

I haven’t seen him throw too many slants and I don’t think I’ve seen him throw a screen to a running back at all.

Darrell Bevell is simplifying the playbook for the rookie, which is good, but also limits his real-time reps for the plays he needs to work on.

There were times where Webb didn’t see open receivers (Adrian Peterson in the end zone); times when he should’ve gotten rid of the ball instead of taking a sack (on the very same play); there were others where he’d stare at the defenders who were rushing him rather than keeping his eyes downfield or tried to place the ball rather than just throwing it; but overall, what a performance!

The intangibles you like to have in a quarterback that I see in Webb:

  • Composure. He did not panic with the Eagles pressuring him all night and brought his team back from behind for a win against a playoff team on a national stage.
  • Confidence. Did you see Webb point to his name on the back of his jersey after his touchdown? He was telling the world to remember that name.
  • Charisma. If you watched the post-game press conference, you can tell this kid has a ton of it.
  • Leadership. It looked like he had complete command of the huddle. His ability to lead his team to touchdown drives under difficult circumstances speaks volumes about his leadership ability.
  • Plays With Joy. That’s the thing I was most impressed with. You could tell he was having a ball out there Tuesday night. All the great players play with a smile on their face. Watch Brett Favre and Antoine Winfield during any game and you’ll find them smiling.
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NEXT YEAR?
If I were the Vikings, I think I’d try and bring in a veteran quarterback to, if not start, at least serve as a mentor to whomever they decide is their quarterback of the future. Joe Webb? Rhett Bomar? Next year’s draft pick?

If Tuesday’s performance reminded us of anything, it should have reminded us that this team does have a lot of talent on the roster. For a variety of reasons, they did not play up to their potential this year.

With players like Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and Visanth(e) Shiancoe on offense; Kevin Williams, Jared Allen, E.J. Henderson, Chad Greenway, and Antoine Winfield on defense; and Lorenzo Booker, Chris Kluwe, Ryan Longwell, and Heath Farwell on special teams, I don’t think we should blow up the roster and start anew.

Shore up the offensive line (and consistency, simply playing together for an extended period will help improve the line) and the defensive backfield and this team should be much improved, as long as we stay relatively healthy next year.

There’s a case to be made for going with a very young quarterback over a veteran next year, though. And the case is that this team is talented.

One of the reasons so many young quarterbacks fail is that they tend to start for horrible teams. The offensive line can’t protect, so the young quarterback doesn’t have the extra time he’ll need to make decisions. Or, as in the case of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who appears to have the talent, the line is so poor, he’s getting injured all the time.

The running game sucks so he’s always facing a full-out rush or the defense is so bad, he’s always playing from behind, to the same result.

Exhibit A for the obverse: Second-year player Daunte Culpepper becomes the Vikings starting quarterback in 2000. Drafted in 1999, Culpepper started 16 games for the 2000 Vikings and lead them to an 11-5 record and Central Division crown and one playoff victory before the infamous 41-0 loss to the Giants in the Conference Championship game. The 1999 team on which Culpepper was a rookie went 10-6.

The young Culpepper took over a team that had a ton of talent: With Robert Smith, Cris Carter, Randy Moss, Jim Kleinsasser, Todd Steussie, Matt Birk, Korey Stringer, and David Dixon on offense alone.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
During his post-game presser, Joe Webb credited Jeff Dugan with the block that sprung Webb for his touchdown.

Only problem is that it was Jimmy Kleinsasser who threw the block.

Dude, one of the first things you’ll need to learn as a quarterback is to give proper credit to your blockers.

BRILLIANT GAME PLAN
I don’t think I’ve ever thought that of a game the Vikings played during the Childress era. I always thought they won games in spite of Brad Childress.

On Tuesday, Andy Reid got out-coached.

HEY SIDELINE CAMERA GUY!
Focus, please.

FAVORITISM?
What the hell was the ref doing trying to warn one of the Eagles that he couldn’t line up over the center on one of our extra points? The illegal defensive formation did result in a penalty but isn’t it just blatant favoritism for a ref to warn a player that he’s about to commit a penalty?

THROWBACK THURSDAY
For this week’s Throwback Thursday video, I’ve got highlights from the 9-7 2003 season, the most memorable highlight of which might have been the Daunte Culpepper to Randy Moss to Moe Williams bomb via a behind the head lateral toss for a touchdown against the Denver Broncos in the closing seconds of the half. [WATCH the Vikings’ 2003 Season Highlights.]

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