The Minnesota Vikings may have found a special connection between head coach Kevin O’Connell and quarterback Josh Dobbs.
Dobbs led Minnesota to a win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, November 5, just five days after the Vikings traded to acquire him from the Arizona Cardinals. Dobbs had never taken a snap from center Garrett Bradbury, thrown a pass to any of the team’s receivers or learned the names of most of his teammates — let alone the nuances of an intricate offense designed by a former NFL quarterback in O’Connell who won a Super Bowl ring two years ago as offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams.
But Dobbs, a former intern at NASA who earned a degree in aerospace engineering before entering the NFL, pieced the game plan together as he went along. O’Connell was in his ear the entire time translating the offense for his new QB on the fly. Dobbs proved himself a quick study and led the Vikings on a game-winning drive that ended in a touchdown pass with 22 seconds remaining.
O’Connell and Dobbs embraced on the field following the emotional win. On Tuesday, Minnesota’s head coach told SiriusXM NFL Radio what he shared with Dobbs in that moment.
.@Vikings HC Kevin O'Connell on what he told QB Josh Dobbs after the game-winning TD pass in Atlanta…
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) November 7, 2023
“I just told him I was proud of him,” O’Connell said. “There was a reason why we identified Josh as kind of somebody we thought could not only come and be a great part of our team, but could help us win football games when called upon. I did not know that would be 11 snaps into his first game with us.”
Josh Dobbs Makes Academic Analogy to Explain Experience of First Start for Vikings
Dobbs described his experience in the game, per Anthony Gharib of ESPN.
“[Like] you’re taking AP Spanish and someone told you you have an AP French exam on Sunday and you got to go execute,” Dobbs said. “Someone’s going to talk to you in Spanish and translate it to the French.”
The QB proved himself adequately bilingual, completing 20-of-30 passes for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also rushed the ball 7 times for 66 yards and a score.
Vikings Believe in Josh Dobbs, Will Start Him Against Saints
Dobbs’ individual effort is impressive and deserves all the headlines and top show billings it has received in the two days since Minnesota bested Atlanta on the road. But the coaching staff, O’Connell in particular, deserve a vigorous tip of the cap for putting Dobbs in a position to succeed despite minimal knowledge of the playbook.
“I told him he’s in a place where we’re gonna love and support him and try and help him become the best version of himself as an NFL quarterback,” O’Connell continued on Tuesday. “I want every guy that ever plays quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings to feel that, especially from the head coach, and just wanted him to know that in the moment. But more than anything, just let him know how proud I was of him and what he just did to win a football game in the NFL, which is not easy to do.”
The Vikings are now 5-4 and have won four straight. The team hosts the New Orleans Saints on Sunday and has already announced that Dobbs will start over rookie Jaren Hall, who is currently navigating the NFL’s concussion protocol.