Kevin O’Connell Mismanaged the QB Situation

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On Wednesday, the Minnesota Vikings announced that Nick Mullens would start the season’s final game. It was never going to be Jaren Hall after his Green Bay debacle, but is keeping Josh Dobbs on the bench about the potential draft pick compensation?

Kevin O’Connell Mismanaged the QB Situation

When the Minnesota Vikings watched Kirk Cousins go down in a heap with his torn Achilles, the scramble for an alternative was immediately on. Nick Mullens found himself on injured reserve with a back injury, and Jaren Hall was the only quarterback on the roster as a fifth-round rookie. Enter Josh Dobbs.

Mismanaged the QB
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Dobbs found himself thrust into action after Hall became concussed against the Atlanta Falcons, and the lore of the Pastronaut took flight. Obviously, things came crashing down for him, but so too have they for Mullens. He was benched for a rookie that didn’t make it through a full game, and now O’Connell is forced to turn to him again.

It’s worth wondering what the pick compensation going back to the Arizona Cardinals looks like. If there is a games played threshold that he is near, keeping him inactive as he has been would make sense. Giving up a sixth-round pick for meaningless games of equally shaky quarterback play really isn’t sound maneuvering.

The problem, though, is that O’Connell deviated from what made Dobbs successful in the first place. The veteran backup has been a known commodity across the NFL for some time, and there was plenty of tape during his time starting in Kyler Murray’s absence. Asking him to be a dropback passer and reading a defense would never prove fruitful. Utilizing mobility makes Dobbs a dynamic option, and it’s something the Vikings took away.

Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Kevin O’Connell addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Wednesday, December 6th, 2023. The Vikings had a quarterback debate off the bye week in 2023, and O’Connell announced incumbent starter Joshua Dobbs would play in Week 14 at the Las Vegas Raiders.

During the first three weeks of Dobbs being inserted into the Vikings’ offense, in which they won two games, he scrambled 23 times for 131 yards and a trio of touchdowns. The completion percentage was over 65% as he opened up additional windows by moving the defenders and posted a 4/1 TD/INT ratio. During the next two games, one of which saw Dobbs be benched, he scrambled just seven times for 32 yards. The completion percentage dropped to 58%, and he flipped the TD/INT ratio to 1/4.

It has been more than apparent that O’Connell hasn’t focused on the running game while head coach of the Vikings, but this seemed to be a situation where the quarterback was forced into something he wasn’t. The scheme O’Connell runs is designed for immobile quarterbacks like Cousins and Mullens. They are traditional pro-style passers, but that puts far too much pressure on a player who doesn’t fit the style.

Nick Mullens Is Absolutely
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We will never know if O’Connell’s gameplan could have impacted Dobbs finding more success. It stands to reason that the answer would be yes, but that’s not a fair hypothetical to live in. What we do know is that a pair of veteran backups, both Dobbs and Mullens, made boneheaded decisions they were expected to be better than. Protecting the football is the goal of a guy in over their head, and while the Passtronaut did too much, Mullens matched him with a butt fumble-esque pick.

Saving draft pick compensation at this point is smart, but O’Connell saving Minnesota’s season with a better plan could have made that point moot.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.