Joshua Dobbs appeared to be passing his most recent evaluation with flying colors last Sunday night in Denver. Late in the third quarter, Dobbs completed a 29-yard pass up the seam to Josh Oliver that brought the Minnesota Vikings offense into enemy territory. A few plays later, he moved the sticks on third-and-two by completing a four-yard pass to Brandon Powell. Clinging to a 17-9 lead and already in field goal range, Minnesota was knocking on the door of the proverbial kill shot that would send the Vikings to 7-4 and their sixth straight victory.
On the very next play, Alexander Mattison lost a fumble on first-and-10 from the Denver Broncos’ 34-yard line. After Denver responded with their fourth field goal on the night, the Vikings faced first-and-20 following an offensive pass interference penalty on K.J. Osborn. Second-year running back Ty Chandler‘s missed blitz pickup allowed the Broncos blitzer to hit Dobbs as he was throwing, creating an interception — Minnesota’s second turnover in three plays.
Granted, Dobbs and the offense still had two opportunities to win the game after the backbreaking turnovers on consecutive drives. But settling for three instead of creating a two-possession advantage left the door open for Russell Wilson, and he took advantage with the go-ahead touchdown. Ultimately, The Passtronaut could not recreate the magic from his debut inside Mercedes Benz Stadium in Week 9 by leading a game-winning drive in the final minute.
Dobbs was seemingly pressing all the right buttons through three quarters last week, aside from a lost fumble on the opening drive. He was completing roughly 75% of his passes while still demonstrating a unique ability to create something out of nothing on both of Minnesota’s touchdowns. But the final 15 minutes in Mile High caused the Dobbs Mania hype train to get off the tracks before Monday night’s showdown against the Chicago Bears.
Luckily for Dobbs, this matchup against Chicago presents a golden opportunity for him to further cement his case as a viable starting quarterback in the NFL next season, whether with the Vikings or elsewhere.
Entering Week 12, Chicago ranks 26th and 30th in passing yards and passing touchdowns allowed. The Bears have also allowed 298-plus passing yards in four of their six road games this season.
- Week 2 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 317 passing yards allowed
- Week 3 @ Kansas City Chiefs: 303 passing yards allowed
- Week 5 @ Washington Commanders: 359 passing yards allowed
- Week 8 @ Los Angeles Chargers: 298 passing yards allowed
No one is mistaking Dobbs for being an equivalent quarterback to Patrick Mahomes and/or Justin Herbert. However, signal callers who more appropriately belong in Dobbs’ class, like Baker Mayfield and Sam Howell, have had their fair share of success against this Bears’ defense.
Dobbs has never thrown for 300 yards in 12 NFL starts. His career-high of 268 yards came two weeks ago against the New Orleans Saints inside U.S. Bank Stadium. The most important thing is that the Vikings find a way to win against their divisional foe on Monday night. Still, this game is a fairly substantial checkpoint on the two-month evaluation of Dobbs’ potential fit as Minnesota’s starting quarterback beyond 2023.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah hired Kevin O’Connell because he and ownership believed O’Connell’s 11-personnel aerial attack could help lead this franchise to its first-ever Super Bowl. And with a 19-9 record through a season and a half, Adofo-Mensah and Vikings ownership are more than validated in their belief in O’Connell. For his scheme to reach its full potential with Justin Jefferson when he returns, T.J. Hockenson, and Jordan Addison, O’Connell needs a quarterback who can consistently win from the pocket and get his plethora of playmakers the ball, particularly when matchups present themselves like this week against Chicago’s pass defense.
Speaking of Addison. He’s due for another breakout performance, right? In Kirk Cousins‘ final two starts of 2023, Addison amassed consecutive seven-catch performances against the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers in Weeks 7 and 8. He combined for 205 yards and three touchdowns in those contents. Addison has seen his production take a noticeable dip with Dobbs, though. The rookie wide receiver has proven more than capable of being a crucial reason this team wins games when more is required of him in Jefferson’s absence. This is precisely why O’Connell appeared to be banging the table for Adofo-Mensah and the powers that be to select him in the opening round of this year’s draft.
Through three games with Dobbs leading the way, there have been splash moments with Addison; namely, the beautiful toe-tap grab against cover 2 on Minnesota’s game-winning drive against the Atlanta Falcons and the high-low crosser off the bootleg in the first half against the Saints. While those plays were certainly meaningful, there hasn’t been a consistent ability to feature Addison with The Passtronaut at the controls. Dobbs’ next step is to demonstrate that he can lean on Addison as a consistent chain mover and chunk-play generator.
If Dobbs can do what most NFL quarterbacks have been able to when the Bears pay a visit to their park this season by approaching 300 passing yards, it will be that much more difficult for Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell to think they’re better off by going in a different direction at quarterback next season. While there’s obviously a lot of season left in Dobbs’ evaluation with the Vikings, having a quarterback who can take care of business by carving up a bottom-feeder pass defense should be considered a prerequisite.