Is Kevin O’Connell Making a Mistake by Starting Josh Dobbs?

Zygi Wilf and the Minnesota Vikings have made it clear that reaching the playoffs remains the goal this season, no matter what. Not even a season-ending injury to their Pro Bowl quarterback or missing the team’s best player for seven games seems to matter.

At the end of the day, coach Kevin O’Connell and the rest of the ship’s crew still have a job to do, no matter how many obstacles enter their path.

Josh Dobbs hot start goes cold

While Josh Dobbs started strong with two consecutive wins, the Vikings’ last two opponents have presented bigger challenges. Most recently, the Chicago Bears created enough pressure to force the first four-interception game of The Passtronaut’s career.

After the Vikings lost a 12-10 heartbreaker to their NFC North rivals, rumors of a potential QB change began circulating. Coach O’Connell was even asked whether he had any thoughts of Nick Mullens replacing Dobbs during the home loss to Chicago. At that time, O’Connell wasn’t willing to commit to Dobbs as the Vikings’ starting QB.

After having a chance to review film with Dobbs over the bye week, O’Connell decided to stand pat at QB. But is coach making a mistake? Should Dobbs be the starter against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday?

Related: Justin Jefferson Loves His Starting Quarterback Kirk Cousins

Josh Dobbs over Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall: Right or Wrong?

jaren hall minnesota vikings josh dobbs kevin o'connell starting quarterback nick mullens
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Once Cousins suffered his Achilles injury, the Vikings’ plan was to start Jaren Hall, even after trading for Dobbs. Two drives into the rookie’s first NFL start, plans changed when Hall’s day was done after suffering a concussion.

It didn’t take long for Dobbs to win over the hearts of a wounded Vikings locker room that didn’t know where to turn after seeing their QB’s season end after eight starts. Finally, fans saw a player capable of making magic when the play broke down by using his feet to escape a non-existent pocket. But, over the course of time, we also began seeing why Dobbs has been a career backup.

As mobile and as bright as he may be, Dobbs also battles inconsistency. Heading into Week 14, Dobbs has the second-worst adjusted completion rate in the NFL at 71.8 percent, per Pro Football Focus. This advanced stat measures the percentage of aimed passes thrown on target. Cousins ranked No. 1 in the NFL at 80.5 percent.

Justin Jefferson’s return will help

However, we’ve never seen Dobbs play with the NFL’s best receiver. That chance comes on Sunday in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium.

One would expect Dobbs to be at his best, given the chance to play with the greatest pass-catching corps he’s played with yet. However, if there are early jitters again, the threat of turning to Nick Mullens remains. Mullens, who has a career-adjusted completion rate of 77.1 percent, should have a much easier time getting the ball delivered on target, but that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily the best man for the job either.

The truth is, even though the Vikings may suffer a bit from an accuracy perspective with Dobbs at QB, they gain so much more with his ability to bail the team out when shit hits the fan.

If reaching the playoffs is the goal, and it should be, then Dobbs gives the Vikings the best chance to win. If the Vikings want to evaluate what they have for the future, then Hall should be starting. If the Vikings feel everything else is in place, aside from an effective passing offense, then Mullens should get the call. Yet, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Going back to Dobbs, giving him a chance to correct his mistakes while having the benefit of teaming up with a lethal weapon in No. 18 makes the most sense for today.

Related: Pros & Cons: Who Should be Minnesota Vikings Starting Quarterback Out of Bye?

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