Getty Head coach Kevin O’Connell (left) of the Minnesota Vikings speaks with quarterback Joshua Dobbs (right) before an NFL game against the Atlanta Falcons in November 2023.
The Minnesota Vikings may have found a special connection between head coach Kevin O’Connell and quarterback Josh Dobbs.
Dobbs led Minnesota to a victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, November 5, just five days after the Vikings acquired 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 a complicated offense run by a former NFL quarterback in O’ Connell was drafted and won two years ago, he went to the Super Bowl as the offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams.
But Dobbs, a former NASA intern who earned a degree in aerospace engineering before entering the NFL, pieced together the game plan as he went. O’Connell was in his ear the entire time, spontaneously translating the offense for his new QB. Showing he could learn quickly, Dobbs led the Vikings on a game-winning drive that ended with a touchdown pass with 22 seconds left.
O’Connell and Dobbs hugged on the field after the emotional win. On Tuesday, Minnesota head coach told SiriusXM NFL Radio what he told Dobbs in that moment.
“I just told him I was proud of him,” O’Connell said. “There was a reason we identified Josh as someone we thought could not only become a great part of our team, but also help us win football games when called upon. I didn’t know it would be 11 snaps in his first game with us.”
Josh Dobbs makes an academic analogy to explain the experience of the Vikings’ first start
Dobbs described his experience in the game, according to ESPN’s Anthony Gharib.
“[Like] “You’re taking AP Spanish and someone told you that you have an AP French exam on Sunday and you have to take it,” Dobbs said. “Someone will speak to you in Spanish and translate it into French.”
The QB proved to be sufficiently bilingual, completing 20 of 30 passes for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also threw the ball seven times for 66 yards and a score.
“Vikings believe in Josh Dobbs and will let him play against Saints”
Dobbs’ individual performance is impressive and deserves all the headlines and A-list shows he’s received in the two days since Minnesota beat Atlanta on the road. But the coaching staff, particularly O’Connell, deserves hefty praise for putting Dobbs in a position to succeed despite minimal knowledge of the playbook.
“I told him he’s at a point where we love him and support him and are going to try to help him become the best version of himself as an NFL quarterback,” O’Connell continued Tuesday. “I want everyone who ever plays quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings to feel that, especially from the head coach, and I just wanted them to know that right away. But most of all, 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.”
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 struggling with the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Max Dible covers the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and Golden State Warriors for Heavy.com. He covered local and national news as a reporter for West Hawaii Today and served as news director for BigIslandNow.com and Pacific Media Group’s family of Big Island radio stations before joining Heavy. More about Max Dible
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