Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell addressed the media on Wednesday, shedding light on his decision to continue with veteran Joshua Dobbs as the starting quarterback for the upcoming game against the 5-7 Las Vegas Raiders. O’Connell expressed confidence in Dobbs, emphasizing the quarterback’s familiarity with the team’s offensive system and their ability to adapt and support his performance.
Dobbs, who joined the Vikings prior to the trade deadline after Kirk Cousins’ season-ending torn Achilles, was thrust into action less than a week into his tenure. While he initially contributed to back-to-back victories, the team experienced setbacks in his next two starts, bringing their record to 6-6 before the bye week. Following a 12-10 loss to the Chicago Bears on Nov. 27, O’Connell had refrained from committing to Dobbs as the definitive starter over backup Nick Mullens.
O’Connell assured reporters that Mullens would be prepared and ready to step in if needed. Dobbs’ performance in his initial four games with the Vikings included a 66.4% completion rate on 128 pass attempts, accumulating 832 yards, five touchdowns, and five interceptions. He also showcased his rushing abilities with 142 yards, three rushing touchdowns, and three lost fumbles during that span.
Notably, Dobbs is expected to benefit from the return of All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who missed seven games due to a right hamstring injury. O’Connell sees Jefferson’s comeback as a significant positive for the team, emphasizing a collective “do-your-job mentality.”
As of Wednesday, the ESPN Football Power Index gave the Vikings a 49.6% chance of making the playoffs, positioning them as the No. 6 seed in the NFC if the postseason began before Week 14. The upcoming game against the Raiders will be a crucial opportunity for Dobbs and the Vikings to enhance their playoff prospects.