Kevin O’Connell Names New Starting Quarterback

falcons tilt
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports.

The season seemed over when the Vikings started 0-3, just like two weeks later, when they were 1-4 and lost Justin Jefferson for at least four games, and just a week ago when Kirk Cousins ruptured his Achilles tendon on a non-contact play. But the team just keeps competing, regardless of the circumstances. No Christian Darrisaw, no Cousins, and no Jefferson? It doesn’t matter, the guys on the field don’t quit.

Kevin O’Connell Names New Starting Quarterback

Jaren Hall, a 25-year-old fifth-round rookie started Sunday’s Week 9 contest in Atlanta but left the game after two drives with a concussion. Backup Nick Mullens is still on IR with a back injury, although he is eligible to return this week. Newly acquired passer Joshua Dobbs entered the game for Hall and became the unlikely hero by performing well despite facing adversity.

Names New Starting Quarterback
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings now have to answer the question of who will start at the most important position for only the third time in the Kirk Cousins era when the New Orleans Saints try to defend the top spot in the NFC South on Sunday in U.S. Bank Stadium. Head coach Kevin O’Connell named Dobbs the starter for this week’s game but wouldn’t confirm if that is just a week-to-week declaration or if Dobbs will keep the job.

Just knowing that Jaren (Hall) is going to be progressing through [the concussion protocol] and coming off of Josh’s (Dobbs) performance yesterday, we’ll go into it making sure to get Josh all the reps to start the football game. We’ll work through what that looks like. Nick Mullens is progressing really well, I do not know yet as far as when we’ll potentially open his [practice] window and activate him back to help us in some capacity.

And then we have Sean Mannion on the practice squad who will be an option for us to elevate as well. So we’ll see. Jaren works through it, we want to do what’s best for him long-term and at the same time make sure that we’re ready to go for Sunday.

Kevin O’Connell

O’Connell also said that the Vikings aren’t intending to sign another quarterback so they can focus on getting Dobbs ready for Sunday. It will be another Dobbs show, regardless of whether Hall and Mullens can get cleared in time for the contest.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports.

Dobbs was acquired on Tuesday and the plan was for him to be the backup. Vikings fans were used to seeing the QB2 enter the game all the time before Cousins arrived in Minnesota. In the last few years, outside of one missed game because of COVID, a rest day in a meaningless game at the end of the season, and at most a handful of plays per season because of minor injuries, he was always out there. So it was an odd feeling when Hall went down and had to exit the game.

The new passer has only been in the building since Wednesday so his struggles were expected. He took a safety on his first drive and then fumbled shortly after. Folks were already thinking back to the infamous Josh Freeman game. But Dobbs started to relax and played a phenomenal game, finding his playmakers or just using his legs to create plays, another unfamiliar aspect for Vikings fans.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports.

Dobbs finished the game with 158 passing yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner to Brandon Powell, and he rushed for a game-high 66 yards and another touchdown. Three of his scrambles were impressive highlight plays.

He didn’t know the playbook and he didn’t know the teammates. For that reason, he failed to make correct reads or the timing was off on some plays. Those things must be cleaned up, which most likely will happen over time. He will get all the practice reps to get ready for Sunday, just like Hall got every rep last week.

The 28-year-old deserves to have another chance to earn the starting job after his heroic performance, regardless of the availability of the other guys. It will be interesting to see if he can get more comfortable with the system in one week.

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