Kevin O’Connell didn’t hold back as he assessed the flow of his new quarterback. “He’s knocked it out of the park,” O’Connell told USA Today Sports during a Friday morning chat about Joshua Dobbs. O’Connell, the energetic, second-year Minnesota Vikings coach, could have been referring to the heroic performance by Dobbs last Sunday that earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. But he wasn’t. Pardon me, Allen Iverson, but O’Connell was talking about practice.
He gushed about Dobbs’ details in handling the game plan during Thursday’s practice, which was quite the contrast to how it went down last week when the quarterback didn’t get a single rep with the first team after arriving from Arizona in a deadline day deal. Dobbs, with his seventh NFL team in six seasons, didn’t know the name of all of his teammates when Murphy’s Law struck, and he came off the bench to relieve concussed rookie Jaden Hall and spark Minnesota to an upset victory over Atlanta.
Now, with the first encore coming on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, Dobbs has had a whole week to drill down on the strategy. “I think you kind of felt the whole team gain a little confidence, as much as we gained Sunday, which was my challenge to him,” O’Connell said. “Everybody is continuing to feel like Josh is going to give us a chance to win this football game. Now let’s make sure we all go out and do our part… make sure it doesn’t take Josh going out being Superman to win this game.”
Dobbs’ debut for the Vikings, a week after Kirk Cousins suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon, was classic storybook stuff. A 13-play touchdown drive was kept alive by a third-and-10 scramble. Another drive was capped by Dobbs’ sizzling 18-yard TD run. Operating without a huddle on the game-winning march, Dobbs spun away and dashed around right end for 22 yards. It set up the 6-yard, game-winning TD toss to Brandon Powell that came with 22 seconds on the clock.
Dobbs, 28, became the first player in NFL history to produce three touchdowns in back-to-back games for two different teams. And it happened on a stage roughly 25 miles from where Dobbs grew up in Alpharetta, Georgia. He knows the NFL is a week-to-week proving ground. “If you don’t show up and play next week, then no one cares about last week,” Dobbs told reporters in Minnesota. “I’m excited for the next opportunity to go out and compete.”