Vikings Rollercoaster Is Back on the Downslope

NFL Rollercoaster Dives Down for Vikings in Surprising Blowout
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s not my first time writing this sentence this season; it probably won’t be the last. It’s been a strange season in Minnesota. There have been highs and lows, and after a Monday Night Football loss to the Chicago Bears, the Vikings could be at their lowest ebb. The Vikings’ rollercoaster is back on the downslope, and they have the bye week to figure things out.

Vikings Rollercoaster Is Back on the Downslope

This Vikings team seems to thrive on adversity. Their best football is coming when expectations are low, so maybe they will come back after the bye and do it again. However, the failure to win the last two games when expectations had been raised is a concern. Particularly when you consider Brian Flores and his defense have only allowed one touchdown across the two games and a combined 33 points. The Vikings offense wasn’t tasked to do much to win over the last two games but couldn’t deliver. 

Vikings Rollercoaster
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

After turnovers killed the Vikings in Denver, it somehow got even worse on Monday night. Joshua Dobbs threw a backbreaking four interceptions. Despite throwing the only touchdown for either team late in the game to give the Vikings a surprise lead, Minnesota couldn’t hold on.

Once again, the Vikings had the ball on offense with a lead and the chance to see out a game, only to go 3-and-out and allow Chicago to win. Kevin O’Connell’s conservative approach when leading in the latter stages of a game is becoming a bone of contention.

QB Controversy

When your QB has four interceptions to his name, and your RB is averaging 6.4 yards per rush heading into the Vikings’ final drive — leaning on Alexander Mattison shouldn’t be a big shock. The trouble is that the Vikings had another miserable series and returned the ball to the opposition. It feels like the same script every week. Sometimes, the defense answered the call and won Minnesota the game, but not in the last two games. If the Vikings find themselves in the same situation again this season, it will be interesting to see how O’Connell approaches it.

The big question that will linger for the next fortnight is who will be quarterbacking the Vikings.

The Dobbs magic has certainly worn off, which is always likely to happen when a team turns to a backup QB and has early success. The Vikings head coach was asked about the QB situation post match.

“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,” said O’Connell.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings’ head coach cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines as his offense imploded time and time again. It’s no surprise that he wasn’t willing to immediately commit to Dobbs remaining as a starter. Nick Mullens was in the backup role against the Bears, and coach O’Connell admitted considering putting him into the game to get a spark. Mullens is on a similar trajectory to the career backup that Dobbs is on. His record of 23 interceptions and eight fumbles from 24 games (17 starts) doesn’t suggest he’s the man to solve the Vikings’ problems — which mainly revolves around turnovers.

Jaren Hall — Take 2?

You don’t need to look hard to see who the majority of the Vikings fanbase wants at QB.

The Dobbs frenzy is over, and everyone is getting back on the Hall train. After two disappointing losses, Vikings fans are ready to turn back to the rookie, but will the head coach agree? Hall impressed, completing 5 of 6 passes for 78 yards against the Atlanta Falcons when he was given the start in Week 9. He also added 11 yards on 2 rushes, the second of which saw him knocked out of the game with a concussion. There is a hunger to see if the rookie can maintain that performance over a longer period.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

I believe the Vikings will roll the dice one more time with Dobbs. Hall has been inactive every game since his concussion, and I’m not convinced the Vikings will throw him straight back in as the starter. The bye week gives them lengthy preparation time, which makes it more viable, but I think Dobbs gets another chance. However, I would like to see Hall active on game day against the Raiders and ready to step in if needed.

Whoever the Vikings have at quarterback will be aided by the returning Justin Jefferson. The Vikings’ star WR has finally been activated from IR and is expected to play against the Raiders. This has been a season of ups and downs in Minnesota. Can Jefferson spark another upward trend? If anyone on the Vikings roster can, it’s him. The Vikings will come back refreshed after the bye and look to find another winning streak that results in some meaningful football in January.