There is this belief that once you go to a young quarterback, you cannot go back. It's a falsehood.
Had the plan worked out, Donovan McNabb would be starting his 16th game of the season this Sunday. It did not, and the Vikings had to turn to Christian Ponder midseason.
That hasn't worked out, either. Oh sure, some good things have come from it. Ponder now has plenty of tape to look at in the offseason to figure out what he must improve upon.
But the undeniable truth is that not all players work out their problems on the field. And Ponder has regressed.
His toughness is great. His improvisation and running skills are admirable. He has an arm. Ponder appears smart and respected by the coaches and his teammates.
But he needs to sit in Week 17.
The concussion he suffered against the Redskins is nothing to mess with. That's the first matter of business.
But there is another: Joe Webb is just a better quarterback right now.
If Leslie Frazier truly wants to send a message to his team right now that he wants to win, he does it in this way: He starts Webb.
Frazier regrets not starting Webb against the Lions. Ponder barely practiced the week before the game and he had no business being on the field that day. Instead, Webb didn't come in until the third quarter and was nothing short of brilliant. Had he gotten the start that day, Webb might have beaten the dangerous Lions in Detroit.
He was brilliant again Sunday. With five throws and five runs, he generated 118 yards of offense and led four scoring (three touchdown) drives.
The Vikings need to know what they have in Webb. Maybe he's not the future, but maybe he is. Ponder is a year and a half younger. They have the next three years to figure out if he can make it.
Webb is a different animal, an unorthodox run-pass threat. But isn't that what Tim Tebow is? Or on the flip side, what Vince Young was. Right now, the Vikings have no idea. If they knew Webb was as good as he appeared, he would have started before Ponder. If they didn't believe in him at all, he would have been cut and Sage Rosenfels would be earning playing time.
That's what Week 17 should be for: figuring out what they have. There's plenty of time to do that with Ponder. Sitting him now won't hurt him, as he has not gotten better and isn't likely to in four quarters of action. Plus, he has a concussion and it's best not to head down that dark road.
Webb struggled against the Bears last December and should get another crack here. He has earned it.