Did the Rocket Just Launch in Minnesota?
For the first few weeks of Josh Dobbs’ tenure as a Minnesota Viking, there was nothing but praise for a man who immediately saw success. On Monday night, things came crashing down, and it’s worth wondering if his ship has sailed or the rocket launched.
Did the Rocket Just Launch in Minnesota?
When Kwesi Adofo-Mensah swung a trade with the Arizona Cardinals for Josh Dobbs after Kirk Cousins’ injury, the thought process was sound. Rookie Jaren Hall was being thrust into action much sooner than expected, and having a competent backup made a good deal of sense. Having played through some ups and downs, Dobbs’ stock has never been lower in Minnesota.
Playing two straight primetime games, Dobbs’ performance on Monday night wasn’t the only poor showing. Although the Vikings looked significantly less inept on Sunday Night Football against the Denver Broncos, Dobbs had plenty of passes that gave his pass catchers little chance to be successful. That was replicated against the Bears on Monday Night Football, and a failure to put the ball in the correct place led to multiple missed opportunities.
Benching Dobbs over his four-interception night would be shortsighted. Not all of those turnovers were directly his fault, and he still gave the Vikings a chance to win when finding T.J. Hockenson for a touchdown late in the game. Benching him for the depths his performance has sunk to and having alternatives makes for a compelling argument.
On Monday, Nick Mullens served as the backup for Dobbs. He has been a starter in the NFL previously and was acquired under similar circumstances. Although Cousins was not hurt when Mullens was brought in, Minnesota sought to upgrade the backup quarterback position with a competent player. He can certainly step in and lead a team from a veteran perspective, but to suggest that Mullens has a capped ceiling would be putting it lightly.
That begs the question of who should go if it isn’t Dobbs. The Vikings have two weeks to figure out that answer with their bye now on tap, but Jaren Hall might deserve another look. It was deemed, in large part out of necessity, that he could quarterback Minnesota in the absence of Cousins. Initial comments suggested he would be given run, and while alternatives may be sought, they would be in a backup capacity.
We saw very little from Hall to decide on his effectiveness either way, and the concussion that knocked him out of the game kept him sidelined for a couple of weeks. Now fully healthy, though, and having been in the locker room since day one, seeing if there is something to work with makes a good amount of sense.
Dobbs has shown that having scrambling ability is appealing to this Vikings team. Mullens doesn’t bring that to the table, but Hall can claim a similar skill set. He was also worthy of a fifth-round pick, and while he may need a longer developmental arc, the Vikings can find out what they have in-game action the rest of the way.
It remains unlikely that the Vikings will make noise in the postseason, even if they wind up in the playoffs. That said, it shouldn’t be expected that they need either Josh Dobbs or Nick Mullens to lead them there. The Vikings have strong, complementary offensive players that make it easier on any quarterback, and what they need is anything but what they got on Monday night. Protecting the football and playing at least at a competent professional level is something that Hall could realistically clear, and it’s a bar Dobbs fell well below against the Chicago Bears.
Maybe it’s too soon to pull the plug on Dobbs completely, but with another soft landing spot against the Oakland Raiders out of the bye, it’s probably perform or move on. Hall has enough intrigue to warrant a game under center if things go awry, and finishing out the year strong can be accomplished regardless of who is under center.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.