Preseason game #1 is in the books and we’re now one step closer to the regular season. The natural tendency is to draw wide-sweeping conclusions after the first preseason game, but we must remember that Saturday night’s tilt against the Titans was just another small step in the process of preparing for the season.
With that said, let’s take a look at how the Vikings QBs fared on Saturday night…
Donovan McNabb – For your starting QB, the first preseason game is more about eliminating mental mistakes and perfecting fundamentals than it is about scoring points and accumulating statistics. To that end, McNabb was just fine on Saturday night. He was 6 of 11 for 40 yards with no TDs and no INTs. McNabb completed his first three passes and four of his first five attempts. On his first offensive series, McNabb converted two third-down passes and drove the Vikings offense from their own 7-yardline out to the 40.
McNabb came out for a second series and immediately hit WR Bernard Berrian on a quick slant. Then he lofted a touch pass to WR Greg Camarillo on 3rd and 3 to keep the drive going. Eventually the drive stalled and the Vikings had to punt from their own 46.
In the end, I came away encouraged with what I saw from McNabb and the first-team offense. Two of McNabb’s incompletions could’ve been caught, none of his passes were near-INTs and he used his athleticism to get out of the pocket to buy time. These are all good signs in the first preseason game.
Joe Webb – The team’s backup QB entering training camp, Webb has done nothing to lose his status as the #2 in camp and he didn’t lose any ground on Saturday night, either. I would characterize McNabb’s night as a positive and Webb’s as a mixed bag. Too often Webb is quick to pull the ball down, escape the pocket and start running downfield. Now, this is a good tool for a QB to possess, but you also want your QB to be willing to stay in the pocket, find the open receiver and deliver the pass in the face of pressure. We haven’t seen Webb do that yet. On top of that, he did throw an INT on his second series.
In the end, Webb finished going
3 of 5 for 36 yards 4 of 8 for 45 yards with no TDs and the INT; he also had 5 carries for 33 yards. There is no questioning Webb’s athletic ability, arm strength and overall look at the QB position. But he does need to become more polished. At this point in his career and at this point in the season, though, that’s about what you expect. He has the potential to play QB at this level.
Christian Ponder – The longer Ponder stayed in the game, the better I thought he looked. As has been the case with Ponder since he was selected 12th overall by the Vikings last April, nothing seemed too big for him on Saturday night and he never showed signs of being overwhelmed. No, he didn’t lead the Vikings offense to points. But also keep in mind that the Vikings went for it on two separate 4th downs when they were deep in Titans territory.
Ponder entered the game midway through the 3rd quarter and hit fellow rookie Kyle Rudolph for a 10-yard completion on his first play. An incompletion, 5-yard run and sack in subsequent plays forced the Vikings to punt. On his next series, Ponder had another 10-yard completion, another sack, a 17-yard completion that was negated by penalty and then an incompletion, all leading to another punt.
Ponder’s third series was fun to watch. He hit TE Allen Reisner for 16 yards on 2nd and 8, then completed a 26-yard strike to WR Juaquin Iglesias that got the Vikings near the red zone. But Ponder and Co. couldn’t muster much after that and eventually they turned the ball over on downs on 4th and 2 from the Titans 14. On his final series, Ponder went 2 of 3 before taking a sack on 4th and 2 from the Tennessee 16.
In total, Ponder finished going 8 of 13 for 84 yards with no TDs, no INTs and 3 sacks.
Overall, I was encouraged by most of what I saw from the Vikings QBs on Saturday night. Yes, it would’ve been nice to see more points on the board. But given the wide spectrum of results you can see during a preseason game, what we saw on Saturday night was right about in the middle. And it looks to be going in the right direction.
I thought McNabb gave a pretty good assessment of his play during a sideline interview on Saturday night. As it turns out, McNabb’s comments were actually a good assessment of how all the QBs performed in preseason game #1. Here’s what he said…
“Well, obviously there are some things we’d like to have back. I think it was a good overall start. We had a lot of rhythm going on and our chemistry was definitely there. Obviously something we can feed off of going into game number two. But overall just kind of stepping back right now before watching film, you’ve got to be pleased by the enthusiasm of the guys, the execution of the plays, getting in and out of the huddle and then starting the tempo that we needed.”
Tags: Christian Ponder, Donovan McNabb, Joe Webb
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 62 Comments »