Vikings Announce a Surprise Switch at Quarterback

Gets the CNN
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Earlier in the week, Kevin O’Connell revealed that Nick Mullens would once again be Minnesota’s QB1. What he didn’t reveal, though, was what was going to happen at QB2.

During his Friday press conference, O’Connell cleared up the mystery.

Joshua Dobbs, not Jaren Hall, is going to be the primary backup. As a result, The Passtronaut will be a single snap away from getting inserted into the game. Plus, the team has the freedom to insert Dobbs into the lineup if there is a special play/package designed for him. Hall, as the emergency QB, can only get inserted into the game if there’s an injury to the top two options.

Vikings Make a Surprise Switch at Quarterback

Joshua Dobbs left the Vikings with no choice.

Going into the bye, Dobbs played very poorly in consecutive losses to the Broncos and then the Bears. More than three quarters into the Week 14 Raiders game, the Minnesota offense couldn’t get any points on the board. O’Connell made the right decision by putting Mullens into the game.

Happened to Vikings
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Since then, Mullens has been the starter and then been benched. Jaren Hall then became the starter and then got benched. Mullens is once again the starter, but the caveat is that Dobbs is now the primary backup while Hall sinks down to QB3.

Keeping up? Since the bye, the QB hierachy has looked like this:

  • Week 14: Dobbs, Mullens, Hall
  • Week 15: Mullens, Hall, Dobbs
  • Week 16: Mullens, Hall, Dobbs
  • Week 17: Hall, Mullens, Dobbs
  • Week 18: Mullens, Dobbs, Hall

Clearly, the Vikings miss Mr. Cousins.

Take a look at how O’Connell explained his rationale for the Week 18 switch: “I think Josh has been able to kind of go about the week, in a process of getting a little bit more reps here and there.” Not too long afterwards, the head coach says that he “didn’t think it was fair to Jaren to possibly have him in a situation where unless he’s injured he can’t come out of the game.”

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Essentially, O’Connell was looking to guard against a scenario where Hall was being hung out to dry. If Mullens needed to come out due to injury and then Hall was majorly struggling, there would be no recourse for Minnesota. Hall would have to work through the struggles with the only reprieve coming if he got hurt.

Obviously, that’s not an ideal scenario. Demoting Hall to QB3 is O’Connell’s way of protecting his rookie passer.

Opponent Is a Cautionary
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Meanwhile, Dobbs is being leaned on to shoulder whatever workload is coming his way. At 28 and with NFL experience dating back to 2017, Dobbs is arguably more prepared for the job in Week 18.

Before getting put on the bench, Dobbs put up 895 passing yards behind 62.9% passing. His 5 TDs were matched by 5 INTs. And then he added 3 rushing touchdowns to go alongside 6 fumbles. So, lots of ups and downs with Dobbs.

He’ll be a free agent at the end of the regular season. Don’t be surprised if there’s a team that gives him a reasonably hefty deal to be their QB2 for 2024.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.

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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.