Dan Zinski, a Minnesota Vikings blogger at The Viking Age, and I took some time to exchange questions and answers in preparation of the Lions game against the ‘Vikes. Head over to Dan’s site to check out my answers to his questions.
Zac Snyder: Let’s say Favre is cleared to play on Sunday, who should get the start?
Dan Zinski: Well, I have to admit, I’ve gone back-and-forth on this one about fifteen times in the past week. Originally I was firmly among those who thought Favre should be given his last hurrah. My argument was, Joe Webb is probably not going to end up being the starter anyway, so why not let Favre ride off into the sunset the way he wants, or at least upright. That was until Webb put up that nice performance Tuesday night. Now I’m actually leaning more toward letting Webb play, just to see if he can follow up that solid effort with another one. I still have my doubts that Webb will be the guy but the doubts are smaller than they were last week. And I’m somewhat scared that even if Favre does play he’ll just get laid flat again and I’m really in no hurry to see that. So, at this point, I’d say I’m 55-45 in favor of Webb. It’s hard because you really want to see Favre put on one last show, but it seems that’s not in the cards. And you can no longer make the argument that Favre necessarily gives you a better chance to win than Webb, cause Webb went into Philly and won.
ZS: There was a lot of hype surrounding Tarvaris Jackson when he was in Joe Webb’s spot a few years back. Jackson went on to have some good performances but it doesn’t look like he will live up to the hype. Why should NFL observers expect anything different from Webb?
DZ: I think Webb has two advantages over Jackson. 1: He doesn’t have Brad Childress coaching him (it’s never too late in the year to take one more gratuitous shot at Chilly). 2: He seems to be brimming over with confidence whereas, frankly, T-Jack always looked a little unsure of himself, if not downright scared. I think during the Philly game we saw that confidence with some of the big plays Webb made, specifically a huge pass to Percy Harvin to convert a third down in the fourth quarter. Everyone in Vikingland thought to themselves, “There’s no way T-Jack makes that play.” Jackson never exuded the kind of self-assurance, even cockiness, Webb plays with. Of course, confidence by itself is not enough. Webb had one good game but now he won’t be able to sneak up on anyone. Defensive coordinators will throw the kitchen sink at him and he is bound to make some bad plays. The key will be, how does he bounce back from the failures? Jackson always seemed to fold up when things got hairy, we’ll see if Webb does.
ZS: How do you view last week’s upset win in light of what has to be considered a hugely disappointing season? Does it ease the pain or make it worse?
DZ: I think, more than anything else, the Eagles game just revealed what the biggest problem has been this year for the team: the quarterback play. Favre’s supporters don’t want to hear it, but Brett simply turned the ball over too much. Now, before I get slammed for trying to lay all the blame on Favre, let me say this: Brett didn’t have a lot of help from his offensive line, receivers or coach for most of the season, and a lot of those turnovers happened because he was trying to make something out of nothing. But, the fact is, you just can’t cough the ball up that much and expect to win. In the Eagles game, the Vikings forced Vick into turnovers, and Joe Webb took care of the ball. Result: they won. Had Favre had a little better blocking, not been quite as gimpy and had Sidney Rice all season? Maybe they win a few more games early and stay in the playoff hunt. But it didn’t happen, for a combination of reasons. Once they got a more mobile QB in there, someone who could escape the rush that was being let through by the porous line, things turned out better. That said, I don’t blame the Vikings for bringing Favre back. Based on what they had going into the season, they had no choice but to roll the dice one more time with Brett. If someone claims they knew Webb would be good going into the season, or they should’ve given T-Jack more chances…they’re nuts or lying or both.
ZS: Have the Vikings missed their window of opportunity or is 2010 just a bump in the road?
DZ: Well that’s the big question. On the one hand, they do have a lot of good offensive talent, including Harvin, Peterson and Webb (and Rice if they can get him re-signed). On the other hand, their offensive line and secondary are a mess, and they have age issues at several positions. They may still have a chance to contend in 2011 but it will take some very shrewd personnel moves. They will have to retool the line, fix the secondary and, most importantly, sort out of the quarterback situation. The QB question is clearly the stickiest of all. If you think you can turn it around quickly in 2011, it makes sense to pursue a guy like Donovan McNabb or Kevin Kolb or maybe Kyle Orton if the Broncos decide to let him go. Some might say Joe Webb is ready to take over the position but I disagree. I like what I’ve seen from Webb but in no way would I consider anointing him the starter for next year. The smartest approach might be to draft a QB in the first round – Cam Newton or Ryan Mallett depending on where you end up picking – so you’re covered for down the road, then sign a veteran and let those two guys and Webb duke it out in training camp. Of course, if Webb turns out good, now you’re stuck paying this high draft pick to sit on the bench. And would a guy like McNabb really sign without an assurance of a starting job? It’s all very confounding. I’m glad I don’t have to make the decision.
ZS: Give me your take on Sunday’s game with the Lions and predict the final score.
DZ: I’m operating here on the assumption that Joe Webb will play. I like what Webb brought from a confidence and playmaking standpoint, but now he has to follow that up. Does he get over-confident? And then there’s that Detroit front four which can be, shall we say, disruptive. Webb has looked good but when you rush rookies, things can get ugly fast. Also, against the Lions, the Vikings won’t have the advantage of being the team with nothing to lose, since the Lions also have nothing to lose. Just based on what we’ve seen from the Vikings in recent weeks, there’s a good chance they will come out flat and the Lions will be able to get up on them. It’s hard to guess, because the Vikings’ performances have been so wildly inconsistent. I think if they come out blitzing hard like they did against Philly, and the offense makes a couple of big plays, they will get into the groove and it will be a barn-burner. Clearly, this is not the old Lions team that you could always count on to shoot themselves in the foot. The Lions are playing with confidence and that makes them dangerous. I am forced to go with the homer pick for this final game and take the Vikings 24-21 but I’m far from certain.
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