The Minnesota Vikings returned almost a year ago to defeat Taylor Heinicke, an old buddy, on the road. The Vikings were down Heinicke and the Washington Commanders 17–7 at the halfway point of the fourth quarter on November 6 of last year. With just under eight minutes left, Cousins found Dalvin Cook in the end zone after Greg Joseph made a short field goal to knot the score 17–17. After that, he drove Minnesota for six minutes to complete the Commanders in Washington, DC.
When the Vikings took against Heinicke’s new club, the Atlanta Falcons, on Sunday, they were a very different squad. In Week 8, Kirk Cousins tore his Achilles tendon while playing the Green Bay Packers. Since Week 5, Justin Jefferson has missed time due to a hamstring issue. Christian Darrisaw, a left tackle for Minnesota, was also declared out due to a groin injury. After two drives and 12:11 of playing time, Jaren Hall’s rookie campaign came to an end as he attempted to sprint into the end zone and sustained a concussion.
Luckily, Joshua Dobbs was acquired by the Vikings at the deadline.
The former starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals completed his first-ever game-winning drive to help the Vikings mount a 31-28 comeback. Before the deadline, Dobbs, 28, had just moved into a Phoenix home after starting the season as the backup for the Cleveland Browns. Having only made ten career starts, he is now playing for his eighth club after the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 draft.
On his opening drive of the second half, Dobbs fumbled after taking a sack in the end zone for a safety. He did, however, run for one touchdown and throw for two more. Despite having only 158 passing yards, he led the Vikings in running with 66 yards. Dobbs is the anti-Cousins in many respects. Cousins inked a fully-guaranteed $84 million contract with the Vikings. He is a pocket passer with a powerful, precise arm. Cousins is meticulous in his reading and is well-versed in the playbook. Dobbs is a man who runs better than he throws, often improvising, and came four days before of the Atlanta game.
In the offseason, the Vikings made changes to their defense, replacing Ed Donatell with Brian Flores. Over all defensive coordinators in the NFL, Flores blitzes the most; Donatell’s defense was passive, attempting to keep everything in front of it. However, since Kevin O’Connell was hired before to the previous season, Minnesota’s identity has been on offensive. As the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, O’Connell implemented the team’s intricate plan and gave Cousins the freedom to execute it. Since O’Connell’s arrival, Cousins and O’Connell have shaped Minnesota’s identity.
Veteran quarterback Cousins is a methodical, meticulous individual who checks at the line and carefully completes his reads. Every now and then he tries to line up under guard or put himself in a plexiglass cage, which causes havoc. However, he usually acts as a stabilizing factor. Before sustaining an Achilles injury in Green Bay, Cousins had not missed a game due to an injury. He follows a schedule religiously and gets ready for games in full. Additionally, he meticulously remembers the majority of his errors after games.
Under Cousins, Minnesota had a very clear identity. They had one of the league’s top young tackles guarding him, a reliable quarterback, and one of the greatest receivers as his main target. From the sidelines, O’Connell managed an offensive that he and McVay utilized to win the Super Bowl in Los Angeles. But in Atlanta, the Vikings had to wing it, and they will have to do so for the remainder of the year. They are in the midst of a run of games that they can win at 5-4. But they can’t use the framework they established throughout training camp to go on a rampage.
Rather, they will need to depend on Dobbs’ capacity for improvisation. Jefferson and Darrisaw should ultimately return to the Vikings. But given that groin injuries hurt and hamstring strains may last a long time, they need to exercise caution when it comes to their franchise receiver. After suffering an Achilles injury, Cam Akers departed the game, while K.J. Osborn’s concussion kept him out of the game long enough to worry his teammates. It’s difficult to predict who will be available the next week and how they will appear during the season.
But that’s the NFL way of life. His greatest asset was always his availability with his cousins, which many often took for granted. In order to provide consistency after Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford went down with injuries and Case Keenum’s performance didn’t appear to last, the Vikings signed him in 2018. If Cousins are less athletic than Dobbs. On the other hand, the 13-3 club from 2017 that executed the Minneapolis Miracle won hearts. Under Dobbs, Minnesota’s attack will be disorganized. However, the greatest teams manage to triumph in any situation, and the Vikings accomplished just that on Sunday.