Josh Dobbs Magic Finally Fades but Vikings Hang on to Beat Saints
I’m going to be honest, I didn’t believe my eyes last weekend, when I watched Josh Dobbs lead the Minnesota Vikings to victory in unprecedented fashion, having only been on the roster for three days. Call it what you want, but we’ve seen that story play out in sports many times before, whether through one iteration or another.
A bench player is forced into action and the perfect mixture of circumstances turns him into a one-week star. In football, quarterbacks hold the weight of games on their shoulders. So sometimes, when you shake a little bit of magic on top of a backup quarterback vs an unprepared defense, you get an out of body performance like what I thought we saw from Dobbs vs Atlanta.
Josh Dobbs even better than last week…
So, entering Dobbs’ first actual start as Minnesota Vikings quarterback (and first full week of practice), I was skeptical we’d see the same kind of magical performance. But I’m very happy to report that I was wrong and Josh Dobbs 100% looked like the real deal while he was throwing and running all over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Josh Dobbs MVP campaign. pic.twitter.com/DE0Xce0huK— vikesinsider (@vikesinsider) November 12, 2023
In fact, Dobbs played so well vs New Orleans that my concerns were wiped out by halftime, when the Vikings left the field leading 24-4. In the first half, Dobbs went 18 of 22 for 220 yards and 1 passing TD, to go along with 40 yards on the ground and 1 rushing touchdown.
As we’ve learned recently, Kevin O’Connell is an offensive genius, which allowed Dobbs to target open receivers most of the day. Still, when the Vikings needed their new QB1 to step up and make big play or difficult throw on Sunday, he delivered nearly every time.
Like here, on 3rd and 5:
Josh Dobbs is ELECTRIC ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/IXw1XJYyIQ— vikesinsider (@vikesinsider) November 12, 2023
Or here, on his 3rd and 6 TD run:
Saints come back in 2nd half
But this is Minnesota, where nothing comes easy. So, when the New Orleans Saints came roaring back in the 2nd half, to bring the score within one possession during the 4th quarter, Vikings fans were ready to hurt again.
A 21 point halftime lead was briefly stretched to 24, after the Vikings successfully kicked a field goal on their first possession of the second half. But from there, it was all Saints. They scored two straight touchdowns and coupled them with two-point conversions to quickly cut the lead to 8 points, with an entire quarter to play.
And if you were looking for more scoreboard contributions from the offense, it wasn’t coming. Kevin O’Connell called the offense into a shell during the 2nd half. Even as the Saints roared back, KOC was suddenly calling the game scared. Runs and 3-and-outs became abundant, unlike the Vikings point production.
From a play-calling and game management standpoint, this might have been the most Jekyll and Hyde coaching performance of O’Connell’s young coaching career.
As you saw above, everything he and Josh Dobbs touched in the first half, turned to gold. I don’t know about you, but when Kevin O’Connell called a first half Wildcat touchdown that was disguised with Dobbs originally under center, I was already writing KOC in to the 2050 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class.
Defense comes through in 4th quarter (with help from Famous Jameis)
But what happened in the 2nd half was unexpected and unacceptable. O’Connell wasn’t hired to coach like Mike Zimmer. But in the 2nd half, that was who you would have thought was coaching the Vikings.
But luckily, the defense came up with big play after big play and big stop after big stop, throughout the 4th quarter, to thwart New Orleans comeback attempt and preserve Minnesota’s 5th-straight win.
It wasn’t perfect, and Jameis Winston being Jameis Winston certainly played in their favor, but Brian Flores’ squad got the job done when the offense couldn’t. Now, the Vikings are 6-4 with the 3-5 Denver Broncos up next on the schedule.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan