Welcome to a Vikings QB Controversy
It’s been a while — a really long time, in fact — but the Minnesota Vikings have a budding quarterback controversy.
The team lost Kirk Cousins to a torn Achilles eight days ago, and in that injury’s aftermath, Minnesota chipped off the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, thanks to mind-boggling heroics from newcomer quarterback Josh Dobbs.
Welcome to a Vikings QB Controversy
Cousins’ immediate replacement, Jaren Hall, was concussed early in Sunday’s game, and his timetable to return is uncertain.
Meanwhile, the QB2 entering the season, Nick Mullens, is available to return from injured reserve as early as this week. Ergo, until head coach Kevin O’Connell squashes it, the Vikings indeed have quarterback donnybrook.
So, who should start in Week 10 and beyond?
The Case for Josh Dobbs
Could a coaching staff bench this man with a straight face?
Dobbs was brilliant Sunday after settling into the Vikings offense, tabulating three total touchdowns and a clutch factor that resembled a Pro Bowler — not some fringe journeyman acquired at the trade deadline just for giggles.
The 28-year-old won the Vikings locker room and fans’ hearts, delivering a much-needed win at the Falcons — against all odds. An actual rocket scientist, Dobbs had about four days to learn some plays from the Vikings system and was called upon to win a game on short notice.
Imagine his craft after studying the full scheme for more than four days, plus the QB1 emblem on his chest.
Dobbs is also mobile — more than Hall, Mullens, and Cousins — a trait not seen at the Vikings quarterback spot since Joe Webb or Christian Ponder. He’s a creator and create he did at Atlanta.
The Case for Jaren Hall
What did this man do to deserve the bench so soon?
Hall was knocked out of Sunday’s game with a concussion but looked quite poised before that unfortunate transaction. The Vikings scooped the BYU alumnus from the 5th Round of April’s draft, and it’s arguably better for long-term planning to learn his ceiling during a season when Cousins is lost for the year.
The problem? Well, nobody knows if early-game success at Atlanta is sustainable. Maybe it is; perhaps it is not.
If there were no such thing as a Josh Dobbs trade, Vikings fans would be praying Hall could play this Sunday versus the New Orleans Saints. But the plot has thickened.
Ultimately, a Cousins-less season, due to happenstance, is a golden opportunity to gather more information about Hall’s outlook as the quarterback of the future.
The Case for Nick Mullens
Among all three candidates, this man has the most starter’s experience — 17 games — and provides the closest skillset to Cousins available.
Of course, “playing like Cousins” isn’t a requirement for the Vikings offense, but Mullens is a mini-gunslinger who enjoys flinging the rock from the pocket, much like Cousins.
What’s more, Mullens was the QB2 to start the season, and if he were standing in a court of law, the 28-year-old could make a wonderful case that the job is his. Five weeks ago, had Cousins fallen injured, Mullens would’ve stepped into the game with no questions asked, and fans wouldn’t have batted an eye.
Yet with an emergent Hall and Messiah-like performance from Dobbs, Mullens feels like the quintessential underdog to be tabbed as the starter from here on out.
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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).