It's official: Joe Webb is the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings tonight. They'll head into their Wild Card game against the Green Bay Packers with a player who has not thrown a single pass this season under center. He has just one rush this season, for negative yardage. Christian Ponder is inactive.
Ponder was listed as questionable on the Vikings' injury report on Friday and came to Lambeau Field early on Saturday to get treatment on his elbow. Webb took snaps with the first team offense all week as Ponder was rested, but he was widely expected to play on Saturday. When he arrived to warm up, his throws reportedly lacked their usual zip.
Over his career, Webb has completed 57.9 percent of his passes for 853 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions. His 5.61 yards per attempt average isn't great. He is, however, a significant threat on the ground. He averages 6.7 yards per carry, has four career rushing touchdowns, and does have one career game with more than 100 yards rushing.
Webb's athleticism is obviously a concern and it's unlikely that the Packers spent too much time scheming for it, but it's also unlikely that the Vikings have designed and implemented a read option attack in one week. While Webb's ability to run and the element of surprise in this move might throw the Packers off, he is undoubtedly inferior to Ponder as a quarterback, and this should hurt the Vikings.