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Vikings vs Packers: Webb Starting for Vikings Not the Disaster It Might Appear

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 30:  Joe Webb #14 of the Minnesota Vikings looks for a receiver against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on August 30, 2012 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2013

Just a few hours before game time and the first big domino might have fallen for the Vikings as Christian Ponder's elbow stayed banged up enough to facilitate the first start Joe Webb has had all year.

My first thought was that this was a disaster for Minnesota. I know Webb has been super popular among the fanbase all season while Ponder has struggled, but he's an unknown entity and hasn't really been that impressive in the past.

Now, everyone likes to think about that win two years ago against Philadelphia in a snowstorm-delayed game but he didn't exactly light the world on fire. 17-for-26, 195 yards is passable, his 31 rushing yards and a touchdown decent.

There was no time to game plan for him and the Eagles, frankly, weren't that tremendous at the time anyway.

I'm actually more interested in the Detroit game from last season—it's far more applicable.

In that game, Webb didn't throw all that well (just 83 yards on 23 attempts) but had a touchdown he didn't manage against Philadelphia and, more importantly, 109 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Ponder was playing awfully and Webb saw action to try and bail out the Vikings.

He ran the ball extremely effectively (including a beautiful 65-yard touchdown run) and did a good job moving the ball with very short passes.

As I said at the top, I started off thinking this was bad, but the more I think about it, the dual threat of Webb and Peterson could be a real problem for the Packers.

Where are the Packers weak? Run defense.

So we already knew that Peterson was going to attack them on the ground. Now you have the option of Webb moving outside the pocket in a spread-option offense.

Webb isn't great at throwing the ball but before last weekend, Ponder hadn't been great either. The key to this game has always been a very strong defensive effort to keep the game close.

If Ponder/Webb/the Ghost of Tebow's career is having to throw in a shootout with Aaron Rodgers, it's a problem.

The Vikings were able to overcome the Packers' prolific offense last week—I would guess they don't want to risk it again.

So Webb may not throw a pretty pass, but the key is to keep him from having to win the game with his arm to begin with.

Make no mistake, this is a bit scary from the standpoint of having to start a guy who hasn't started once this year on the road in the playoffs.

However, Webb's feet, coupled with Adrian Peterson, may give the Vikings the motor to overcome the Packers defense in the biggest game this season.

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