The Little Talked-About Aspect of the Vikings’ QB Decision

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After the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football 10 days ago, head coach Kevin O’Connell would not name a starting quarterback going forward, insinuating he’d evaluate all options and choose the best passer for the offense in Weeks 14-18.

The Little Talked-About Aspect of the Vikings’ QB Decision

Well, O’Connell assessed and landed where he started — with Joshua Dobbs, a man acquired by the Vikings via trade with the Arizona Cardinals on Halloween.

Most Vikings fans wanted rookie Jaren Hall to take the baton, but O’Connell attached words like developmental to Hall’s current trajectory as an NFL quarterback. In fact, O’Connell’s musings from Wednesday implied the choice was between Dobbs and Week 1 QB2 Nick Mullens.

The Little Talked
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O’Connell said about his decision, four days before the Vikings’ meeting with the Las Vegas Raiders, “We feel great about our bye week process of really, two layers to it — evaluating where Josh has been as far as immediately providing a spark and helping us win two football games. Then transitioning to some tough outcomes where there’s all kinds of things we could do better: we can coach better, Josh’s continued comfort in our offense and how we play, but also our offense and our staff’s ability to evolve and help Josh thrive.”

So, it’s The Dobbs Show henceforth. But Vikings fans haven’t thoroughly considered one caveat about the QB1 decision — whoever was chosen after O’Connell’s deliberation can somewhat easily be benched if he doesn’t produce.

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Normally, with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, for example, playing hopscotch at QB1 isn’t wise and can be psychologically damaging to a franchise quarterback or at least create teamwide instability.

Yet, if Dobbs sets foot on the field and starts handing out interceptions like pamphlets at a convention, he will find the bench, probably with a quick hook. The decision never had to be “Dobbs from here on out.”

The Vikings have options.

One Man for Vikings
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Mullens was the team’s QB2 as early as two months ago. He should almost be a little bitter that O’Connell didn’t choose him after the bye. You better be ready he’ll be waiting for the call if Dobbs is up to his old tricks.

It certainly won’t be ideal for the club’s coaches, players, or fans if Dobbs struggles, but a quarterback debate or controversy among backup-caliber passers lowers the expectation bar.

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O’Connell instilled confidence in Dobbs after the bye, but in a moment’s notice, he can pivot to Mullens or Hall if the offense sputters or turnovers arise.

It’s not all or nothing.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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