The Pittsburgh Steelers gave up twice. The Detroit Lions were never really interested. The Tennessee Titans made other plans. The Cleveland Browns found someone cheaper. The Jacksonville Jaguars never let him go. And the Arizona Cardinals never saw him as anything more than a stopgap measure.
But as Joshua Dobbs likely learned in his aerospace engineering studies, flying can be perfected by crashing.
The metaphor certainly fits Dobbs, who has long been fighting for a starting quarterback spot in the NFL. In 2017, Dobbs was drafted in the fourth round and his primary role for franchises fluctuated between utility backup and last-minute emergency starter. That makes up the bulk of Dobbs’ resume this season – a seven-year string of paychecks from seven different franchises. And as of Sunday, three of them have made it to 11 starts, including the Titans, Cardinals and Vikings.
But after just two games and 12 days in Minnesota, Dobbs has now posted two of the most impressive games of his career: last week’s 31-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, despite being forced into the starting lineup after just four days of preparation, and The 27: 19 win on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, in which Dobbs displayed a dynamic style of play and leadership that, if it continues, will draw considerable attention.
What kind of attention? The kind that could position Dobbs as a coveted free agent this coming offseason — and possibly the most coveted quarterback of all, although he’s slated to hit the market alongside veteran starters Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill and Baker Mayfield. This trio’s interest varies, whether due to health, age or physical limitations (or a combination of all three). But if Dobbs’ two-game performance in Kevin O’Connell’s offense is a taste of what’s ahead, it’s unlikely anyone will have the full set of skills that Dobbs has with his ability to throw from the pocket, off-script Creating and being a designed part of a running game brings with it. Not to mention his age — he turns 29 in January — and this outing is the best opportunity he’s had in his career to make an impact as a starter.
In just two games and very limited practice, Dobbs completed 43 of 64 passes for 426 yards and three touchdowns, as well as 110 rushing yards and two rushing TDs. Stats and wins aside, the Vikings rave about his leadership and how much he accomplished in such a short amount of time. Including Sunday’s performance against a good Saints defense in which he rushed for 312 yards and two touchdowns, executing what O’Connell called a “full game plan” for the first time.
“It was Josh Dobbs out there playing quarterback,” O’Connell said. “We saw it again today, game-changing plays with his athleticism were really crucial in filling some of the gaps for us offensively in the first half. I can’t praise him enough for a 2-0 win against him in the last two games – as we all have so much room for improvement, that’s what I’m most excited about.”
“I can’t emphasize enough what the circumstances were for him in our offense last week, but what I think was really special this week is that he even came out of that performance. [was] his work, how he prepared,” O’Connell added. “He basically lived in the facility and went through his normal process while at the same time allowing us to show him how we do things, how we try to improve his ability to play fast while also giving him really good plays , for which he can take responsibility.” .. “
O’Connell reiterated that he sees significant growth potential in Dobbs, including the return of wideout Justin Jefferson and others. But as a general manager familiar with Dobbs said Sunday night, the best currency the Vikings can spend on him beyond the surrounding talent is time and commitment.
“He’s smart and has leadership and ability, but you have to see how it all shows up and comes together over the course of a season,” the GM said. “For whatever [reasons] This opportunity didn’t exist before. But [the Vikings] I traded for him because I knew they had a good group of veterans. So I assume they are looking into whether it can be a longer term solution. … At the same time, a number of teams got a chance to look at him, but it just never clicked. But a lot of people have said that about Geno [Smith] Even until last season. None of us are perfect. A man can slip through the cracks and make it later as a more mature player. We saw it.”
Admittedly, Dobbs’ overall record as a starter isn’t long enough to suggest that what we’re seeing over the past two weeks is concrete evidence of who he is. However, it’s worth noting that all three of his outings as a starter came under some form of quarterback pressure. But so far, none of the Vikings have had a realistic chance of remaining regular players for the team the following season. He was Tennessee’s emergency option after being released from the Lions’ practice squad and Tannehill would return in 2023. He was Arizona’s emergency option, acquired late in training camp to hold down the position until Kyler Murray returned. And after Cousins’ injury, he’s now Minnesota’s emergency option.
The only thing that’s different? This stint with the Vikings could very well end with a long-term contract here or elsewhere. He will be given every chance to thrive by O’Connell and Minnesota’s front office, with a significant amount of young talent that could be a very good fit for Dobbs. And he’s learning a version of Kyle Shanahan’s offense (which is a version of Mike Shanahan’s offense), which makes him valuable to other teams running a similar scheme. That list includes the Los Angeles Rams, who have an aging starter in Matthew Stafford, the Green Bay Packers, who have an uncertain starter in Jordan Love, the San Francisco 49ers, who appear to be getting back on track in Brock Purdy, and von Of course, the Vikings, who can place a franchise tag on Dobbs if they want to keep him and can’t negotiate a long-term deal.
So what would a long-term deal look like for Dobbs? It’s hard to say without knowing what the rest of the season might look like. In 2017, due to an injury to Sam Bradford, backup Case Keenum had a wild 16-game start (including two playoff games) in which he went 11-3 in the regular season and then signed a two-year contract with “Proof” the Denver Broncos in the offseason for $36 million. At that time, the $18 million salary was a lower-level starting salary. If Dobbs does well, this type of “proof” deal could be his minimum wage, with the salary adjusted for deal inflation – perhaps something like two years for $50-$60 million. On the other hand, there is no telling how big his market could be if he gives his all for the Vikings over the rest of the season.
For now, it will be a measure of what he does with his time, how many other teams take notice of him, and who needs a quarterback with his skill set next offseason.
Going into 2022, we didn’t know that Daniel Jones would have been a coveted free agent if he had been allowed to leave the New York Giants. We also didn’t know that Smith would become a long-term answer at quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.
Dobbs could be next in line.