Another Piece of the Vikings’ QB Puzzle Falls into Place as Season Enters Final Stretch

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Denver Broncos
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Do Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell enjoy solving puzzles?

Lately, figuring out the quarterback situation in Minnesota has been unusually difficult. The offseason plan was straightforward: Kirk Cousins — who never gets hurt — was returning to reclaim his crown as the Vikings’ QB1. Behind him was a well-respected veteran backup in Nick Mullens and then an upside rookie in Jaren Hall. The Vikings’ QB puzzle was relatively bland.

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As the season wore on, though, things became increasingly difficult. That’s what will happen once the QB1, QB2, and QB3 all need to miss time due to injury. At the same time. Even worse, the emergency QB — RB Cam Akers — was also injured within that same window (the Falcons game in Week 9).

Thankfully, Minnesota had the foresight to add Josh Dobbs at the trade deadline, but things haven’t been easy. Dobbs is the new starter, a position he has earned since he has been performing admirably since arriving in the Twin Cities. Let’s not forget, though, that his success was far from assured. Minnesota also had to prepare Sean Mannion and Tanner Morgan (who has been released) for potential play.

And, of course, there’s now a mysterious emergency QB lingering somewhere on the roster. Like Superman who works as a journalist by day, the emergency QB is hiding behind a humdrum, normal football position as he awaits his chance to hop into a phone booth to put on his cape.

Ideally, the mystery remains since the Vikings will never need to call on the emergency player.

The Vikings’ QB Puzzle Going into The Stretch Run

Add all the chaos together and the Vikings have been working with Kirk Cousins, Nick Mullens, Jaren Hall, Josh Dobbs, Sean Mannion, Tanner Morgan, Cam Akers, and a mysterious Emergency QB at quarterback. For good measure, running back Ty Chandler and tight end T.J. Hockenson have also taken direct snaps from Garrett Bradbury (the RB’s snap led to a touchdown; the TE’s snap led to a fumble).

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Thankfully, things are trending in the right direction, at least to a certain extent.

Cousins isn’t coming back in 2023, but his backups are looking like they’re ready to roll. Last week, Mullens was activated off of the IR, securing the backup QB position once again. Hall needed another week to get healthy so he wasn’t active for Sunday Night Football. Monday Night Football looks like a different story.

Minnesota’s initial injury report listed Hall as a full participant in practice. If there was any lingering uncertainty, Mullens also got in on a full practice, as well.

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O’Connell thus gets to move ahead with a hierarchy that’s once again sitting in a relatively stable position. Dobbs is the main man with Mullens and then Hall as the backups. That’s not too bad, folks.

Now, Dobbs isn’t the perfect quarterback. His arm isn’t as powerful as Cousins’ arm (someone who doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his deep ball). Making matters more challenging through the air is the reality that Dobbs isn’t as accurate, either. Obviously, there’s more upside in the ground game since Dobbs possesses a mobility that has never been accessible to Cousins. So, it’s a bit of back and forth between taking a step back in certain areas while taking a step forward in other areas.

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Right now, the top priority is pulling off a win over the Chicago Bears. The Seahawks lost on Thanksgiving, so the Vikings not sit in the #6 spot in the NFC. Finding a victory on Monday would secure Minnesota’s spot while narrowing the gap with the Detroit Lions (another team that lost on Thanksgiving).

Helping the Vikings to accomplish the immediate goal is a QB room that possesses both more stability and upside than in recent weeks. Re-inserting Mullens and Hall into the mix makes the quarterback position considerably healthier (no pun intended) moving forward.

In the short term, Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell don’t need to do too much thinking when it comes to solving the QB puzzle. One has to think that the GM and HC are welcoming the increased health and clarity.

Minnesota and Chicago begin their Monday Night Football game at 7:15 p.m. CST on Monday, November 27th. A win would push the Vikings to 7-5 overall and 3-0 in the NFC North.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.