The Josh Dobbs Experience may be Over Sooner than Anticipated
The Vikings Week 12 loss to the Bears at home is one of the lowest points of the season for a team that’s gone through about as much adversity as one can imagine. After losing Kirk Cousins to a season-ending injury, Josh Dobbs stepped in and provided some magic against Atlanta and New Orleans. Unfortunately, the “Passtronaut” has come crashing back to Earth in the last few weeks. Even more unfortunate for Dobbs is that both performances were in primetime for the world to see.
On Monday night against Chicago Dobbs managed to throw four interceptions, and it could have been worse. There were at least three interceptions that were dropped by Chicago defenders; a few could have gone for touchdowns. If throwing four interceptions was a lucky outcome, imagine how bad things could have gotten. Dobbs could have approached the NFL single-game interception record with a few more bounces going Chicago’s way.
During his postgame comments, Kevin O’Connell was very non-committal to Dobbs continuing as the starter out of the upcoming bye. In fact, it sounded like KOC came very close to pulling Dobbs in the fourth quarter. With Minnesota’s once-promising playoff hopes dimming, it honestly makes sense to make a switch. Dobbs is on a one-year deal and certainly isn’t in consideration to be the long-term starter in Minnesota. He’s also very likely to command a big deal as a journeyman or backup in the offseason.
With the Vikings having rookie Jaren Hall back healthy and showing brief glimpses of solid play for a backup, it makes sense to see what they have in him. There’s a real chance that he could develop into a cost-controlled backup on a rookie deal. Without hopes of making noise in the playoffs, moving off Dobbs feels like the right call.
Other Vikings Week 12 Disappointments
Maybe the one thing that can be said in Dobbs’ defense is that “only” three of his interceptions were his fault. Jordan Addison was certainly responsible for the other. It was an uncharacteristically sloppy performance from the rookie. He had the big drop in Chicago territory that landed in a defender’s hands off the ricochet. On top of that, he had a very rare mishap near the sideline, trying to bring in a deep ball. He was wide open on the play after his defender fell, and he couldn’t convert the opportunity. Granted, it was also an atrocious pass from Dobbs who should have led Addison inside for an easy touchdown. However, Addison’s defining skill thus far has been his body control and sideline awareness. Addison will look to bounce back after the bye, where he should also have All-Pro running mate Justin Jefferson back.
Vikings Week 12 Bright Spots
It’s telling that outside of Dobbs and Addison, it was hard to pick players who underperformed Monday night. The defense played spectacularly at all three levels for most of the night. Undrafted rookie middle linebacker Ivan Pace has been one of the steals of the 2023 draft. He was an All-American at Cincinnati but still didn’t get drafted due to his somewhat diminutive stature. Pace certainly doesn’t look or play like an undersized linebacker between the lines. He’s taken over play-calling duties from the injured Jordan Hicks, and his play has only improved since. Pace has shown juice as a blitzer and provided a lot of sure tackling on Monday night. The Vikings appear to have lucked out by landing a franchise linebacker in Pace.
Danielle Hunter is having a monster season heading into his first foray into free agency. The Vikings foolishly added a clause to his amended deal that doesn’t allow him to be franchise-tagged. He’s now up to 13.5 sacks which has him tied with T.J. Watt for the NFL lead. He also leads the NFL in tackles for loss with 18, which highlights his steady play against both the run and pass.
On Monday night Hunter terrorized Fields to the tune of 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. The Vikings line was living in the backfield all night, with Hunter leading the way. Brian Flores has been the mastermind behind the Vikings’ sudden resurgence, but Hunter’s play has been the driving force behind executing his schemes. If he finishes the season out the way he’s currently playing and approaches 20 sacks, he’s going to be in line for a massive payday this offseason. Unfortunately for the Vikings, it’s very likely just not going to be with them.
Main Photo: [Dan Zanine] – USA Today Sports