Let’s travel back to Week 5. Kevin O’Connell’s Minnesota Vikings fell short to the defending Super Bowl champions, losing at home to Kansas City to fall to 1-4 on the season. Star receiver Justin Jefferson would leave the game with a hamstring injury and land on injured reserve.
The sky felt like it was falling in Minneapolis. Three weeks later, Kirk Cousins, having a fantastic season, tore his Achilles, ending his campaign.
Through the adversity, all O’Connell’s club has done is stack Ws.
Sunday’s 27-19 win over the New Orleans Saints marked Minnesota’s fifth consecutive win, all coming sans Jefferson.
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“I can remember, vividly, standing in front of them the Monday after we [started] 0-3, and I can remember the message,” O’Connell said after the win, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “All of us together, working to accomplish something special, was one of the greatest opportunities we would have professionally. If you look at it as an opportunity and you have your football team trying to be the best versions of themselves for that greater good, I am of the belief that we can continue to go out and write our own story. And we’re holding the pen.”
Netflix probably wishes they had cameras at the Vikings facility this season, as Minnesota’s season is one scriptwriters probably couldn’t even conjure.
Even as the Vikings continued to win without Jefferson, the football gods dealt Minnesota a seemingly fatal blow with the Cousins injury. Instead of cashing in on the season, however, they imported Josh Dobbs for the low, low cost of a pick swap at the trade deadline.
Dobbs has been a sensation since sliding on a purple jersey.
Last week, he took over after being with the club for four days, leading them to a win. Sunday, Dobbs played Houdini in the first half, staking the Vikings to a 24-3 lead over New Orleans they’d hang onto for the victory.
“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 coming off of that performance, was his work, how he prepared. He was essentially living at the facility and going through his normal process while also allowing us to show him how we do things, how we try to enhance his ability to play fast while also giving him really good plays that he can be responsible for getting to one versus the other on the line.
“I thought it was a pretty outstanding day from Josh and the best thing about it is we’re all still getting to know each other and getting a comfort level where we can continue to apply layers to this thing to try to be as successful as we can be on offense.”
The Minneapolis Magic Man, Dobbs’ ability to wiggle his way out of sacks with a deft move or spin might be his best asset. The QB’s mobility has added another dimension to the Vikings’ offense, and avoiding the negative plays has been vital the past two weeks.
“Josh, in two starts, has shown us what mobility, in addition to what we do offensively, can do for us in this tough time where we’re trying to overcome the loss of Kirk,” O’Connell said.
Dubbed the Passtronaut, Dobbs’ ability to step in and pick up the offense on short notice speaks to his intelligence and work ethic. The QB rarely looks confused, and his connection with tight end T.J. Hockenson and rookie receiver Jordan Addison looks like they’ve been playing together all year.
During the five-game winning streak, the Viking’s defense has come to life, allowing seven fewer points per game than the first five weeks, and the offense stopped turning the ball over.
Perhaps most notable should be how we view O’Connell. When Jefferson, Cousins, etc., are all on the field, it’s easy to credit players for making plays. Take them away; targets are still scampering wide open for easy gains, and that speaks to an offensive play-caller who can scheme with the best. We knew KOC ran a brilliant scheme and called a good game. After the injuries have all but decimated the Vikings’ star-level talent, he’s showing off just how good he can be.
As the Vikings stack wins with Dobbs under center and injuries still mounting (starting running back Alexander Mattison exited Sunday’s win with a concussion), O’Connell should be mentioned in any Coach of the Year discussion.
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