In Appreciation of Joshua Dobbs, Who Has Been a Massive Success in Minnesota

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Mullens is the new starting quarterback. Kevin O’Connell made the right decision (Dustin Baker agrees on VT).

Lately, Joshua Dobbs has been playing some awful football. The most recent example rests in the Las Vegas game where he couldn’t get the offense to put any points on the board in more than three quarters. Yes, the gravity behind being a weekly NFL QB1 has been dragging Dobbs down, but that shouldn’t overshadow what was a successful trade acquisition for Minnesota.

Joshua Dobbs Has Been a Tremendous Success

On Notes from the North, I’ve been sounding the alarm about the play from Dobbs.

When is the last time Dobbs played good football? The second quarter of the Saints game in Week 10. He then put together a really underwhelming second half that contributed toward New Orleans being able to shrink the 27-3 lead down to just 27-19.

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates with quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The games in prime time didn’t do much to help. The Sunday Night Football loss to the Broncos and the Monday Night Football loss to the Bears sent the Vikings into their bye on a two-game losing streak and some questions to answer about who should get the nod at QB1. O’Connell opted for Dobbs, but he did so while suggesting he would hand things over to Mullens if there ended up being a need to do so.

With less than ten minutes left in the Raiders game, O’Connell fulfilled his promise.

The head coach opted against naming his starter in his Monday press conference. The only reason to hold off on acknowledging what was plain to see, though, was so that O’Connell could first tell all of his coaches and players about who would be taking over at QB1. Once those in Eagan knew, then the coach could speak openly in the media.

No doubt about it: Mullens deserved to overcome Dobbs in the race to be the Vikings’ starter at quaterback.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders
Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) celebrates after the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Given all that’s been said, why the insistence that Joshua Dobbs has been a success? Let’s unpack that one since it’s not as contradictory as it may seem upon initial glance.

Dobbs, a career journeyman who struggled to stick around an NFL roster, was acquired at the trade deadline since the Vikings’ QB room was in shambles. The starter who never gets hurt got hurt. The backup was already on the IR. All that was left was a 5th-round rookie and a veteran (Sean Mannion, now employed by the Seahawks) who no one wanted to see get into the game.

Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sean Mannion (14) hands off to running back Ty Chandler (32) during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

All Dobbs did was get inserted into the Atlanta game after having mere days to prepare. He led Minnesota to a victory, complete with a game-winning touchdown toss to Brandon Powell. He then followed up that performance with enough winning plays to take down New Orleans in Week 10. The end result was a 6-4 record and the freedom that comes from being able to control one’s own playoff destiny.

Obviously, Week 11 and Week 12 didn’t go well, but let’s not forget the broader context. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah shipped out a 6th-round selection in exchange for Dobbs and a 7th. The QB went on to play .500 football. The fifth game he played in resulted in a victory for Minnesota. And while Mullens deserves credit for picking up the win, Dobbs deserves credit for not making catastrophic mistakes (e.g. interceptions, fumbles) that would have undermined the brilliance from Brian Flores.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders
Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) makes a pass attempt against the Las Vegas Raiders during the fourth quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Consider how Kevin O’Connell framed things while speaking to reporters on Tuesday: “We’re now a game over .500, and Josh for the better part of four games and three quarters led us to three wins. There’s a lot of teams in this league that when they do lose their starter, it takes a lot to overcome that.” Dobbs, the head coach suggests, has been a key component of being able to overcome the loss of Kirk Cousins.

Dobbs is sensationally gifted intellectually. Where there hasn’t been enough credit is in his toughness and competitiveness. He demonstrated great leadership and always took accountability for his mistakes. He doesn’t have the world’s best arm, but the trade acquisition was a massive success for Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell. The Dobbs intangibles we just mentioned — alongside some magic with his legs — largely fuelled the ability for Minnesota to go 3-2 in the games where The Passtronaut was the heavily involved.

So, yes, be relieved that Nick Mullens is getting inserted as the starter, but don’t misunderstand reality: the Joshua Dobbs trade was a wonderful success.

Kickoff between the Vikings and Bengals takes place on Saturday, December 16th at 12 p.m. CST.

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.