Nike needs to get some Joshua Dobbs jerseys to the Minnesota Vikings team store as fast as possible. I might even make a purchase with the way that he has played in the first season of his long NFL career in which coaching staffs have finally, intentionally started him at quarterback. He has spent most of this season saving the late RedZone window by making the Arizona Cardinals entertaining in losses. He was rewarded for trying to keep that sinking ship afloat with a trade to the Vikings on deadline day, leading them to a game-winning touchdown drive on Sunday during their Week 9 victory against the Atlanta Falcons. Did we mention he’d only been in town less than a week?
Dobbs entered the game in the fourth quarter after rookie starter Jaren Hall was forced to leave the game and go into concussion protocol. Kirk Cousins suffered a season-ending Achilles injury last week, and veteran backup Nick Mullens was in his fourth week on injured reserve because of his back. After only a handful of practice days, Dobbs accounted for more touchdowns in less than four full quarters of action than he did in any start for the Cardinals in a 31-28 victory.
He completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 158 yards and two scores. Dobbs also ran in a touchdown in the third quarter that tied the game at 21-all. He rushed for 66 crucial yards on the day, including a gutsy 22-yard scramble on 4th and 7 to keep the Vikings’ final drive alive. The score that gave the Vikings the lead for good was a Dobbs touchdown pass on 3rd and 4.
Going into this season, Dobbs was a backup journeyman who had only started in two games since being drafted by the Steelers in 2017. Those were the last two games of the 2022 season for the Tennessee Titans. Ryan Tannehill was hurt — and had already been benched — and after being on the roster for a week and a half they decided to start Dobbs over then-rookie Malik Willis.
Kyler Murray tore an ACL late last season and the Cardinals traded for Dobbs two weeks prior to the start of the 2023 regular season. While the Cardinals only won a single game through eight weeks, they played hard and kept many of those games close enough to be watchable, which is always appreciated in the late-afternoon Sunday window. A 27-0 Week 9 loss to the Cleveland Browns without Dobbs was by far the Cardinals’ worst loss of the season. Their sole win was Week 3 against the Dallas Cowboys, and afterwards Dobbs discovered that his jersey–that of the QB that had led them to victory–was not yet in the team store. The Cards then moved swiftly to rectify the problem.
Dobbs played well, albeit not spectacularly this season. Going into Week 9, he averaged only 5.9 yards per attempt with a 46.6 QBR. However, combined with his 258 yards on the ground and three touchdowns, he played well enough for the Cardinals front office to receive the best of both worlds. The team played competitive football, while still losing enough games to remain in the race for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
His Week 9 performance against the Falcons was also not without blemish. He fumbled three times — losing two of them — and was also dropped for a safety on his first drive. Still, the rocket scientist (he has a degree in aerospace engineering and has interned at NASA in offseasons) who doubles as an NFL quarterback was able to keep his head throughout the early chaos. Eventually, the day ended with him landing the Vikings’ shuttle into the Falcons end zone for a win, and a 5-4 record.
The Vikings might want to place an A.S.A.P. order of No. 15 jerseys. They made the move to attempt to cling to their slim playoff hopes, and after one week they have managed to hold their ground thanks in large part to a masterful final drive by Dobbs.