Vikings vs. Packers: Lights Too Bright on Big Stage for Webb and the Vikings

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 05:  Quarterback Joe Webb #14 of the Minnesota Vikings is tackled by inside linebacker Brad Jones #59 and defensive tackle Mike Neal #96 of the Green Bay Packers in the fourth quarter during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 5, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

I expected a letdown by the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday.

The uneven play through the middle of the season prepared us for that possibility.

Nobody expected this near-disaster.

Joe Webb was a complete mess for 90 percent of the night, holding the ball far too long and twice throwing the ball haphazardly into the air mid-sack and nearly being picked off.

If you thought that by the end of the night Minnesota would have a quarterback controversy, you can shelve that thought.

Webb was awful—and we saw why Christian Ponder wasn't benched during the awful stretch he had midseason.

What was really puzzling was the game plan by Minnesota.

Webb is not a pocket quarterback. He never will be, because it's not his strength and that's fine.

If you have Webb, who is incredibly slippery when running the option, why do you force him to hang in the pocket all night?

Why are you not running the option, having Webb run bootlegs and handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson?

It was like the Vikings decided to run an offense the exact same way they would with Ponder under center.

The question before the game was, "Did the Packers prepare for Joe Webb?"

What the question should have been was, "Did the Vikings?"

For an offense that had its backup take the majority of the snaps during the week in practice, this unit looked like it didn't have any idea how to use that player.

Yes, the defense had issues in the game. The lack of tackling skill—especially in the backfield going after Rodgers—burned them as much as the man coverage they couldn't pull off against the Packers' very good group of wide receivers.

They couldn't stop the Packers in any phase of the game, and while no single Green Bay player lit them up, as a team the offense just overpowered the Vikings defense.

Ultimately, though, you have to wonder how different this game might have been with Ponder in. It's impossible to know, but the sort of thing that will drive fans—and Vikings players—nuts all offseason, especially coming off the great performance he had last week.

He didn't play though, and it was clear that much to everyone's surprise, the team missed him tremendously.

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