The Vikings’ coach and GM are having a staring contest with the sun

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It’s no surprise that journeyman quarterback Josh Dobbs re-entered the atmosphere. Players are backups for a reason, and it was only a matter of time before Dobbs reminded folks why he was available multiple times this season. What is a surprise about this current predicament is after the Vikings used assets for the short-term loaner, coach Kevin O’Connell is already non-committal after three starts.

Kirk Cousins’ injury throws Vikings season into a tailspin

That probably says more about Minnesota GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah than O’Connell, but let’s stick with the coach for a tick.

With All-Pro receiver Jordan Jefferson set to return after the bye week, O’Connell said who starts under center depends on their ability to maximize Jefferson.

“Justin’s role in our offense, really from Day 1 since we arrived here, has always been very, very significant,” O’Connell said. “Anytime you can infuse the best receiver in football back into your offense, there’s going to be ways to not only get Justin going and make sure he has a critical impact on the football game … [and] the quarterback position absolutely plays into that.

“We’re going to make sure that whoever is playing quarterback is aware and understands the intent behind plays where either Justin is the primary [target], or based upon coverage, based upon the defensive look, how to quickly and efficiently get to the right place to go with the football. In the end that’s what the NFL passing game is about: rhythm, timing, understanding that the defense can and will take some things away, but progressing in rhythm.”

Even with context, it’s hard to tell what the hell O’Connell is doing. The second-year head coach’s follow-up to his inaugural campaign wasn’t going well even before Kirk Cousins’ season-ending achilles injury, and now it’s in jeopardy of going off the rails completely.

Fellow backup QBs Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall will join Jefferson in returning from injury after the off week, yet there’s no way of knowing which signal caller can maximize the star receiver, because no one’s thrown him a pass. It feels like O’Connell rattled off a bunch of football buzzwords to sound smart.

Usually, soundbytes like that precede an incredibly stupid decision, so let’s see how it pans out. You’d think a coach would start the QB who gives them the best chance to win, and though that person might not be what’s best for Jefferson’s statline, winning is what’s best for the team, right?

While a lot has been made (by Jefferson) about his contract extension, would the team really contort its approach just to keep him happy going into negotiations? That feels excessive.

The underlying issue in Minnesota is that Adofo-Mensah has been trying to jettison Cousins by attrition since arriving in the Twin Cities. Before the year, I wrote that the GM rigged this roster to be completely dependent on Cousins; that’s why he let Dalvin Cook go and drafted Jordan Addisson. Well, the injury to the team’s starting QB prevented that plan from coming to fruition this season and possibly set it back indefinitely.

The past two weeks reminded Skol fans that you can do a lot worse than Captain Kirk, so I’m not sure what Adofo-Mansah’s thought process was when he traded for Dobbs. Was it to show critics that Cousins was holding back the team ? Dobbs did lead the Vikes to wins in his first two appearances before imploding in an explosion of turnovers.

Or did the GM think a playoff run was still possible even without Cousins? If that were true, then why neglect to bolster, or even maintain, the running game in the offseason? The defense is much improved over 2022 and proof that some of Adofo-Mensah’s moves worked, but I’m so confused by what’s going on in Minnesota.

Considering the many questions awaiting this franchise following the season — this is Cousins last year under contract, and I’m not sure Jefferson shows up without a new one — some semblance of a plan would be preferable. 

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