O’Connell, son of a former FBI agent, said all the right things, commending Dobbs for continuing to compete despite three of his interceptions coming off tipped passes.
But behind O’Connell’s sterling smile, frustration has built beyond Dobbs’ six turnovers in the team’s past two losses. Dobbs’ overall execution of the offense appears to be a problem, leading to the Vikings coach stating he will consider a quarterback change over the team’s Week 13 bye.
Star Tribune reporter Ben Goessling believes benching Dobbs is already a foregone conclusion internally and he would be surprised to see Dobbs remain the starter.
“I think it has bothered them that they have not been able to run their offense with the typical level of rhythm and timing,” Goessling said on a November 30 episode of the “Access Vikings” podcast.
Goessling added that the way the offense is built is not the right fit for Dobbs, and while you can incorporate wrinkles that complement Dobbs’ mobility, wholesale change is not feasible midseason.
“You’re not going to fundamentally remake everything at this point,” Goessling added. “They’re not getting the ball out at the time it’s supposed to come out the way these plays are designed. If that is as big of an irritant or detractor to their success on offense as it seems like they view it to be, I’d be a little surprised to see them go back to Dobbs at this point, knowing there’s only so much you can do to fix that in the middle of the season when you just acquired the guy.”
Kevin O’Connell Tips Hat in Vikings QB Decision
An offense tailor-made for Dobbs that could complement his strengths in the pocket while also including some designed runs, RPOs and bootlegs could be promising.
But at this stage in the season, O’Connell is looking for what will work right now with his team sitting on the bubble of the playoffs.
In a November 28 news conference the day after the Vikings’ loss to Chicago, O’Connell stated that the quarterback who will start going forward will be whoever maximizes Justin Jefferson, who was activated off injured reserve the same day.
“Justin’s role in our offense, really from Day 1 since we arrived here, has always been very, very significant,” O’Connell said on November 28, per ESPN. “Anytime you can infuse the best receiver in football back into your offense, there’s going to be ways to not only get Justin going and make sure he has a critical impact on the football game … [and] the quarterback position absolutely plays into that.
“We’re going to make sure that whoever is playing quarterback is aware and understands the intent behind plays where either Justin is the primary [target], or based upon coverage, based upon the defensive look, how to quickly and efficiently get to the right place to go with the football. In the end that’s what the NFL passing game is about: rhythm, timing, understanding that the defense can and will take some things away, but progressing in rhythm.”
Nick Mullens Fits O’Connell’s Call as Vikings QB1
Of the quarterbacks available in the Vikings locker room, Nick Mullens fits the mold for the original quarterback O’Connell designed his offense around — Kirk Cousins.
Mullens is considered the consistent and accurate passer who can drive the Vikings offense safely. He doesn’t have the same flashiness and scrambling ability that Dobbs showed in his four games with the Vikings, but Mullens offers some ability to escape pressure.
Overall, the signs point to Mullens being the Vikings’ choice given the intel O’Connell has offered in his decision-making this week.