The honeymoon is over, the Jeremy Lin-like run from Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs has ended as quickly as it arrived. While he managed to pull rabbits out of a hat for two games, and added some more special plays to his highlight reel in Denver, he came back to earth on Monday during the team’s second straight loss. Like always, turnovers killed them.
There It Is, the Vikings Have a QB Controversy
The expectations were low for the Vikings when starting quarterback Kirk Cousins exited the game with a ruptured Achilles but just one week later, a magical performance from Dobbs was the reason hope returned to Minnesota. It was fun while it lasted, the Passtronaut was a cool story but the Vikings are asking the question of whether Dobbs should be the starter going forward or if a change is necessary. Kevin O’Connell was asked about the possibility of making a change during his postgame presser:
We’re gonna take a look, and really evaluate the inventory of plays we have of Josh. We got healthy, we got Jaren (Hall) back and available to us, and then Nick Mullens is available as well.
Look, I think what Josh Dobbs has really done since coming in here on short notice and really going 2-2 in a stretch where a lot of people might have thought Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson being out, the deck is stacked against us, that’s not the way this team thinks, that’s not the way we operate, it’s not the way I operate. We’re trying to go out there and win every football game we play and we’re going to evaluate what we’ve been able to do, things to get better at.
He also confessed that making the switch to backup Nick Mullens to give the offense a spark was a thought that crossed his mind during the game.
Dobbs’ play can safely be labeled as up-and-down. MVP plays that look like Patrick Mahomes is wearing a Vikings uniform are followed by disastrous plays that make him look like someone put a high school quarterback in the NFL.
That, however, is what backup quarterbacks do. NFL quarterbacks are skilled football players, even the backups. There are only 32 starters and 32 QB2s in the league. They can all play. The main difference is the consistency. Cousins has had a couple of annual stinkers but also 15 at least solid performances. Backups, like Dobbs, aren’t that consistent and their play varies from week to week.
While benching Dobbs might be warranted after a game in which he turned the ball over four times, although three of them were tipped passes, it is fair to ask if the other guys are actually better options.
Jaren Hall, the rookie fifth-rounder, looked like a good alternative in the quarter he played in the Atlanta game, driving the team up the field on his second drive before suffering a concussion. He surely did but it should be noted that those were the scripted plays, the plays that get practiced all week. Hall was supposed to look comfortable executing those. He is also a rookie and those tend to be even more inconsistent than the veterans.
Nick Mullens has been a backup his whole career and was suddenly asked to start in place of Jimmy Garoppolo in 2018. Throughout his career, he has started 17 games. In 24 total games, Mullens threw for 5,085 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions. The two first numbers look great, the interception total once again proves his backup status.
Head coach O’Connell must now make a decision. Does making another change at quarterback help the team win or not? Neither of the three is a bona fide starting-caliber player although all three have shown flashes. The most high-end play was likely shown by Dobbs while Hall has shown the ability to take care of the football in his college career. Mullens has the most experience in the NFL and in the system but he is not as skilled as the other two.
However, there is a possibility that benching Dobbs actually weakens the team regardless of the potential of the passers because it would once again erase all kinds of familiarity and chemistry. Dobbs has taken more reps with the starting offense since the season kicked off than Mullens and Hall combined. While they might be more comfortable with the playbook, does that translate to the field with players they have barely thrown to in a system they have barely played in?
It will be a decision that O’Connell must make after considering all those variables. The main question is which guy gives the franchise the best chance to win the next game. Quite frankly, the head coach is the only person who can make the decision as he knows which quarterback is most comfortable with the offense and his teammates and which quarterback is the most talented. Those two factors will play a role. It will be the main question in the Vikings’ orbit throughout the bye week but trusting the head coach to make the right decision is all we can do.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt