MANKATO - Donovan McNabb may be the worst starting quarterback in the NFC North.
Regardless of all he has achieved in his storied career, there is no escaping the fact he is old. The long term success of a person of Brett Favre's age is few and far between. Let's not forget there is a reason Favre is a media circus. For evidence of McNabb's age, you don't have to go any further than his draft class of 1999. Look at the existing active players that are still active, and it's only a handful.
For validation of this argument, consider the present quarterback situation, as it exists right now, in the NFC North. Last season, Aaron Rodgers (age 27) started 15 games throwing for a total of 3,922 yards, 28 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions. He also led Green Bay to a Super Bowl championship. Jay Cutler (age 28) threw for 3,274 yards passing with 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, and lost to the eventual world champion Packers in the NFC Championship game.
Last season, although passing yardage for McNabb (who turns 35 in November) was good with 3,377 yards, his numbers were not as he threw one more pick than he did touchdowns with 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. It is worth noting that he didn't have a lot of targets to throw to last season. Let's not forget McNabb was benched in week eight in the team's loss to the Detroit Lions, in favor of Rex Grossman. This loss also marked Lions QB Matthew Stafford's (age 23) return in which he threw four touchdown passes, and barring injury throws one of the best footballs in the NFL.
The most intriguing story line of the this season's lock-out shortened camp is the battle for the No. 2 position. The winner of this battle will be indicative of what direction the Vikings will go with the future. Its future appears to be wearing No. 14 and goes by the name of Joe Webb. Initially, it was tempting because of his athletic versatility and last year's receiving crisis to want to stick Webb at receiver. It has become evident that he has put in the work necessary to become a polished and confident quarterback in the NFL. Joe Webb is gradually taking over more of the No. 2 reps. On Wednesday, Ponder was noticeably struggling to adjust to the speed of the game, and on several occasions in practice, held onto the football for too long.
It's hard NOT to address the quarterback position, something this team has struggled to address for the majority of their history.
Some will argue that the last franchise quarterback the Vikings had was Daunte Culpepper, who is part of the 1999 class in which there are only three players drafted that are still active in the NFL. There is only one franchise quarterback the Vikings truly ever had: Fran Tarkenton, and even Norm Van Brocklin ran him out of town in the late 60s.
Jim Kleinsasser, who has been a Viking since 1999, has seen them all: Jeff George, Randall Cunningham, Culpepper, Favre, Tarvaris Jackson, Brad Johnson, and now Donovan McNabb.
"Each player brings a little bit of a different flavor to the game," said Kleinsasser said, a native of Carrington. "I've had some good ones."
It's becoming more evident that Joe Webb is our future. He will win the battle for No. 2, and eventually have the starting job as Minnesota's first franchise quarterback since Tarkenton.
Not since 1977 has Minnesota been to the Super Bowl, and it is largely because of inconsistency at one key position: quarterback.
The future is here, and the time to cultivate it is now.