MINNEAPOLIS — For the briefest of moments last week, Joshua Dobbs took the time to pinch himself. The excitement of his impressive debut with the Vikings had just faded when he stepped into the elevator at the team hotel, where dozens of the franchise’s former players had gathered for a weekend reunion.
Some alumni also entered the elevator. As he later recounted, Dobbs was shocked when they recognized him, praised his impact on the team and excitedly talked about the rest of the season.
“Just feeling that energy,” he said, “and feeling that recognition from guys who have played a lot more snaps than me and had illustrious careers, and just seeing that excitement, it meant a lot to me. It was a cool moment.” just taking it all in.
Dobbs picked up right where he left off last week in Atlanta on Sunday, rushing for 312 offensive yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings’ 27-19 win over the Saints. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Dobbs became the first player in NFL history to record 400 passing yards, 100 rushing yards and no interceptions in his first two games with a team.
Dobbs is the third quarterback in as many weeks to start for the Vikings, following Kirk Cousins’ season-ending Achilles tendon tear in Week 8 and Jaren Hall’s concussion in Week 9. The Vikings signed Dobbs on October 31 transferred to the Cardinals to act as an emergency backup for Hall, and Dobbs continued to score 224 offensive yards and three touchdowns against the Falcons despite not completing a single practice rep attempt with the team.
Before Sunday’s game, Dobbs had the relative luxury of a full week of getting to know the Vikings’ offense and their game plan against the Saints, which required more passes than expected. He led the Vikings to a 24-3 halftime lead and finished the game with 23 completions on 34 attempts for 268 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown to tight end TJ Hockenson just before halftime. He also rushed for 44 yards on eight carries, converted two third downs and scored on a 7-yard run in which he spun and scrambled from the pocket after the Saints covered all four of his reads on the play.
“Josh has shown us in two starts what mobility, in addition to what we do on offense, can do for us during this difficult time as we try to cope with the loss of Kirk,” said coach Kevin O’ Connell.
O’Connell added: “Last week I can’t emphasize enough what the circumstances were for him in our offense, but what I think was really special this week, even after that performance, was his work and his preparation.” 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 the implementation of which he may be responsible one against the other on the line.
“I thought it was quite an outstanding day from Josh and the best part is that we’re all still getting to know each other and getting to a level of comfort where we can continue to apply layers to this thing to try and be as successful as it is “We can be on the offensive.
In fact, Dobbs said he ate every meal at the facility last week to make sure he spent enough time learning the game plan, joking, “I don’t get paid hourly, so I can’t be anywhere else.”
However, Dobbs got serious and said he wanted to make sure the memorable performance in Atlanta wasn’t lost to history.
“Whatever happened,” he said, “you have to put that aside and move on to the next thing. You arrive on Sunday and don’t play well? Nobody cares what you did in Atlanta last week. They care about what you did in Minnesota this week.”