QB Struggles Aren’t the Only Reason for Vikings’ Offensive Problems

Drops One Hint
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings entered Week 14 with a 6-6 record after fumbling away the previous two games. Brian Flores’ defense is why the franchise is still in the playoff race, as they keep the group in the games weekly. His unit ranks tenth in yards allowed and fifth in points allowed. But to reach the postseason and then be a serious team there, the offense must improve.

QB Struggles Aren’t the Only Reason for Vikings’ Offensive Problems

 the Only Reason for the Offensive Problems
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Joshua Dobbs’ performance was a disaster against the Chicago Bears, and it rightfully initiated a quarterback controversy. Over the bye week, the Vikings decided to stick with Dobbs to give him another chance. The offense was shut out with Dobbs under center, everything ending in punts, and subsequently, Nick Mullens relieved him.

The quarterback is blamed the most for the offensive struggles, for good reason. He has consistently failed to deliver passes on time and accurately, resulting in too many missed opportunities in the passing game. However, his teammates regularly hung him out to dry.

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Dobbs was the major problem, but the receiving corps has been an abject disaster in Las Vegas, dropping multiple passes. A backup quarterback will make mistakes; his job is to keep the offense going to some extent, but just like all quarterbacks, he depends on his teammates to make plays around him.

Kevin O’Connell mentioned the issue in his post-game presser: “I credit him for coming out and giving our offense some chances in the first half. There are probably plenty of guys in there, thinking back on a few plays, that would tell you they can make that play when given the opportunity.”

Must fix himself
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Various times on Sunday, the receivers dropped passes. According to Pro Football Focus, the Vikings had six drops, despite the company’s conservative tendency to only rule a play a dropped pass when it’s egregious. The 28 drops rank the team inside the five teams with the most drops throughout the season.

And those include some of the key playmakers of the offense with T.J. Hockenson letting perhaps Dobbs’ best pass fall to the ground and K.J. Osborn missing the catch twice. He leads the team in credited drops with seven, followed by running back Alexander Mattison (6) and T.J. Hockenson (5). Hockenson’s drop rate is still relatively low at 5% as he is a frequent target in the offense, but Osborn and Mattison come close to 20%, which is an unacceptable number.

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As the drops continued, especially Osborn had a rough day, the Vikings made some switches, giving sophomore Jalen Nailor some more reps in his place. Unfortunately, he was also credited with a drop. Punt returner Brandon Powell, who was a reliable option in recent weeks, wasn’t much of a factor against the Raiders, at least not on offense, and the absence of Justin Jefferson also didn’t help the passing attack. The good news is that his injury isn’t considered serious.

Regardless of which quarterback will start the next games, the weapons must be better and make plays to help their team. A backup quarterback, especially, needs the help of the teammates. Just like the continued turnovers, the drops are killing drives, and it should be a point of emphasis in the week leading up to Saturday’s game in Cincinnati.

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