This week marks Minnesota Vikings stud wide receiver Justin Jefferson’s return to action. But the situation around the three-time Pro Bowler is notably different than the last time he suited up, particularly when it comes to who is under center.
Dobbs is mobile.
“It’s an extra thing the defense has to be aware of,” Jefferson said, per Carmen Vitali of Fox Sports on December 7. “Not only do you have to worry about our receivers and tight ends and backs, but you also have to worry about a quarterback that’s running and able to be mobile. It’s a lot of weapons on the field.”
Josh Dobbs-Justin Jefferson Combo Could Mean ‘Boom’ for Run Game
The Raiders rank 20th in total yards allowed. But they are 12th against the pass, potentially putting additional emphasis on the Vikings’ run game. Las Vegas is 25th against the run this season. It is not a foregone conclusion that the Vikings can take advantage of this disparity, though, ranking 28th in team rushing yards.
Minnesota has rushed for 100 yards as a team five times this season, the third-fewest in the league. But the Dobbs-Jefferson combo could help that.
“With Jefferson returning and Dobbs’ ability to be used on designed runs as well, this Vikings’ run game could be about to hit a boom period behind their tight end- and fullback-laden attack,” wrote Nate Tice of Yahoo Sports on December 7.
Jefferson was active for two of their 100-yard games. Dobbs was under center for the others.
Tice also pointed to the Vikings’ remaining opponents – the Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions (twice), and Green Bay Packers – all field bottom-half run defenses in terms of success rate. The Vikings rank 29th in rushing attempts on the season. But they are 11th in attempts per game over the last three weeks, per Team Rankings.
It will be incumbent upon head coach Kevin O’Connell and offensive coordinator Wes Phillips to remain committed to the run game, and on running backs Alexander Mattison and Ty Chandler to execute the gameplan when they face the Raiders in Week 14.
Josh Dobbs Wants to ‘Play the Best Football I Can’
Dobbs, 2-2 in his four starts for the Vikings, has rushed for 142 yards (a 35.5-yard average) in that span. The only other Vikings quarterback to average that many yards on the ground in at least as many starts was Daunte Culpepper in 2001 and 2002, per Stathead.
Things looked shaky for Dobbs following his four-interception performance against the Chicago Bears in Week 12.
But, knowing that he is starting in Week 14, Dobbs is developing a rapport with Jefferson.
“I’ve been texting him ideas … Because I want to play the best football I can because I know all the guys in here have worked so hard to get to this moment where we hold our own destiny,” Dobbs said via the team. “The communication has been both ways, which has been good because that’s communication you have to have in order to be successful on Sundays.”