What now? A golf analogy

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J. Kapp 11
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What now? A golf analogy

Post by J. Kapp 11 »

Well guys, we've got two weeks to sit here and twiddle our thumbs, so I thought I'd ask a simple question.

What now?

The 2023 season is truly at a crossroads. Beat the Raiders and the Bengals on the road, and suddenly the 8-6 Vikings have a path to the playoffs. Lose either one, and it gets pretty hard, with two games against Detroit remaining. Lose both, and it's definitely over.

So what should the Vikings do?

First question for me is who starts at quarterback. I know we have a similar thread, but I think we need a fresh conversation, given that we've now had four games with Josh Dobbs.

I'm a golfer, so here's how I see it. The remainder of our season is a 560-yard par 5, a long hole. To make the playoffs, we need at least a par, maybe a birdie. Eagle assures us of a spot. Bogey, and we're likely out. Double or worse, and we're playing for draft position.

Josh Dobbs is the big swing with the driver.
Lot of possibilities here. He's got the ability to catch it great and hit it 320 yards straight down the middle, setting up a chance for birdie or eagle (first half against the Saints). Or he might hit one spectacularly far but 60 yards into the woods, carding a triple bogey (Bears).

Nick Mullens is the 4-iron off the tee.
The safe option, at least at first glance. He'll get you in the middle of the fairway, probably, but he doesn't have the talent to make eagle. He'll pop one maybe 190 yards, leaving 370 yards to the green. He might be able to get you that par, but he also might get the ball on the green in 4, then 3-putt for a double bogey (as evidenced by his 23 interceptions in 17 career starts). In other words, he's almost as likely to make a double bogey as the big swinger, only less spectacularly.

Then there's Jaren Hall.
He's like a really good amateur playing in a pro tournament for the first time. He's got some talent, but you have no idea what he'll do when he's on that tee. Will he calm the nerves, pipe one down the middle, and make birdie. Or will his hands shake and his nerves get rattled, causing him to shank one off the noggin of the poor guy in the gallery.

None of them are perfect options. But you're standing there on the tee, and you've gotta go with one. Which one do you choose?

Do you swing big with Dobbs?
Do you play the 4-iron with Mullens?
Or do you see if Hall can somehow get you in the hole in 5 or less?

Or am I way off in my assessment of the 3?
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

Post by VikingLord »

The right answer to your question depends on the time horizon being considered and what KAM/KOC are actually shooting at when they swing.

If their focus is on making the playoffs this year, Mullens is probably the safest bet of that bunch. Dobbs is a close second as he adds some wrinkles that could make things more challenging for defenses, but as the last two games have demonstrated now that DCs have tape on him as a Viking, not so much more challenging they can't be fairly easily dealt with. Hall runs a distant third over this time horizon. He's a rookie, not a heralded or highly drafted rookie at that, and is the most likely to falter once defensive coordinators get more tape on him. He's never even completed a game as a pro, and even if he starts against Vegas and has success, that is a lot to ask of a rookie in the regular season, much less in the playoffs.

If their focus is on fielding the most competitive team they can next year, then the above order reverses in my view. KOC should want to see what he has in Hall, because if Hall shows promise then maybe they can focus on developing him over the offseason and go into the draft with more flexibility than if they feel like they need a starting QB. Dobbs stays in the middle because he's a middling option. He has shown he can play well, and he has shown he can play poorly, and often shows both in the same game, so he could meet the short term goal of trying to make the playoffs while also showing if he could be considered over the longer-term heading into next season. He's bounced around so much that he might just need some time to settle in, and if he's more comfortable, maybe the mistakes decrease to the point where he could be a longer-term option as a starter. Mullens is the proverbial journeyman backup QB. His future, be it as a Viking or with another team, is that and only that. If KOC starts him the remainder of this season he answers literally nothing about the starting QB situation heading into next season regardless of how much success the team has from here on out.

Personally, I think this year's team isn't going anywhere in the playoffs no matter what they do at QB or whether JJ comes back. There are too many issues on this team that go well beyond the QB position, so it makes little sense to focus on making the playoffs when deciding which QB makes the most sense from here on out. So over the longer time horizon, starting Hall makes the most sense. He provides only upside potential for the remainder of this year - he really can't disappoint because nobody (including me) expects him to step in and light things up, but by starting him KOC and KAM will get invaluable information they can use heading into the draft that may save them from making an expensive trade up to try to snag a rookie QB. If Hall does well and shows potential, they won't need to do that. If he stinks, they'll know they need to, or at least will have to strongly consider that.

So, Mullens starts if the focus is on getting into the playoffs this year, which will likely result in a first-round exit and answer no questions at the QB position heading into next year.

Hall starts if the priority is competitiveness over the longer term and generating some potential for excitement this year. If he does well, and he could, the narrative around the team's chances this year could shift along the lines of what we saw when Dobbs won his first two games.

Mullen starts if the priority is "safe and boring". Mullens will do little to inspire hope for this remaining season and answer zero questions about what needs to happen at QB over the offseason. He's the classic KOC "run-up-the-middle play" at the QB position, and as a result I expect KOC will choose to start him over the other two.
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

Post by VikeFanInEagleLand »

I remember during Zimmer's last season, he was asked at a press conference why he wasn't starting Mond, and his answer was "because I see him every day at practice". Seemed a bit harsh at the time, and knowing what we know now about Zimmer, was probably a tainted statement. But overall, that's the truth. They DO see these QB's every day. We don't. I'm not going to pretend to know what Hall or Mullens looks like right now. KOC's coaching/influence seems to have turned Cousins into a better QB. Maybe the same has happened with Mullens and/or Hall.


In your analogy about Dobbs having the ability to drive the ball 320 yards down the middle of the fairway...that's true BUT, I think I've seen enough of him now to realize that the odds of that happening are slim. He might do that once a round. He might pop a few up off the tee for 100 yards, worm burn a couple for less than that, and like you said, bury several into the woods. I think we as fans get way to wrapped up in a players "highlights". We remember those exciting plays of Dobbs escaping trouble and running for TD's. But the truth is, his highlights are as few as my golf highlights. Heck, I could put together a highlights film of my golf game at the end of the season that would fool people into thinking that I'm a pretty good golfer. They'd learn the truth when they stepped on the course with me.


I think we're going to see whichever QB O'Connell thinks will run his system the best. Mullens might not be able to get an Eagle, but if he can give you consistent par's with a few Birdie's thrown in, that'll give us wins against the remaining schedule. As a fan, I'd like to see what Hall looks like for a few games. In the small sample size of what I've seen of him, he MAY be able to give just as many 320 yard drives as Dobbs, without all of the lost or wet balls. Maybe I'd feel differently if I thought the team had a legit shot at making noise in the playoffs. Or maybe they do? Maybe KOC is enough of a QB Whisperer to surprise us. I do know this though. He has some learning to do with his play calling.
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

Post by CharVike »

Dobbs I thought KOC would have a quick hook on the guy during the Bear game but he just stood there watching the game go down the tubes. We couldn't score, turned the ball over and that pitiful pass to a wide open Addison should have sent Dobbs to the bench. KOC had his fan hat on instead of his coaching hat. Dobbs will be the backup and then off to another team this off season. One day in the sun and then done.
Mullens? I don't know anything about this guy. But we did trade something for him so somebody saw something. The guy is 6 feet tall and I would assume a soft pro arm. He was the backup when the season started and beat out all the competition in camp this year so he should be the starter. The haters will claim he's a buddy of Kirk's just like they did with Mannion and that's the only reason he's on the squad.
Hall. Again I have no idea because I don't watch college but he was a 5th rounder for a reason and was beat out by Mullens for a reason also. Basically a shorter QB who lacks the arm to make all the throws. One look, yank it down older rookie player. The concussion should be a worry because I read he also suffered one in college. If things break perfect he will be a career backup. When and if a new HC steps in he will be cut. Basically a bullet point on Kwesi's resume just like Mond was on Speilman's. He will be the emergency guy.
For the rest of the what now.... I would start Mullens and tell him if you suck you need to act like the back hurts again and go to the locker room for evaluation. Then insert Dobbs and if he sucks again send him on a run up the middle and tell him to duck and drive for yardage. Once tackled tell him to lay on the ground and the med staff will come out and take you to the med tent for a concussion check. Then we can insert Hall as the emergency guy and if he sucks we can bring one of the other two back in. That will add some excitement and satisfy every fans QB wish. Plus that's life without a legit starter and I already seen that for decades and it's not pretty.
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

Post by Cliff »

J. Kapp 11 wrote: Wed Nov 29, 2023 2:11 pm Well guys, we've got two weeks to sit here and twiddle our thumbs, so I thought I'd ask a simple question.

What now?

The 2023 season is truly at a crossroads. Beat the Raiders and the Bengals on the road, and suddenly the 8-6 Vikings have a path to the playoffs. Lose either one, and it gets pretty hard, with two games against Detroit remaining. Lose both, and it's definitely over.

So what should the Vikings do?

First question for me is who starts at quarterback. I know we have a similar thread, but I think we need a fresh conversation, given that we've now had four games with Josh Dobbs.

I'm a golfer, so here's how I see it. The remainder of our season is a 560-yard par 5, a long hole. To make the playoffs, we need at least a par, maybe a birdie. Eagle assures us of a spot. Bogey, and we're likely out. Double or worse, and we're playing for draft position.

Josh Dobbs is the big swing with the driver.
Lot of possibilities here. He's got the ability to catch it great and hit it 320 yards straight down the middle, setting up a chance for birdie or eagle (first half against the Saints). Or he might hit one spectacularly far but 60 yards into the woods, carding a triple bogey (Bears).

Nick Mullens is the 4-iron off the tee.
The safe option, at least at first glance. He'll get you in the middle of the fairway, probably, but he doesn't have the talent to make eagle. He'll pop one maybe 190 yards, leaving 370 yards to the green. He might be able to get you that par, but he also might get the ball on the green in 4, then 3-putt for a double bogey (as evidenced by his 23 interceptions in 17 career starts). In other words, he's almost as likely to make a double bogey as the big swinger, only less spectacularly.

Then there's Jaren Hall.
He's like a really good amateur playing in a pro tournament for the first time. He's got some talent, but you have no idea what he'll do when he's on that tee. Will he calm the nerves, pipe one down the middle, and make birdie. Or will his hands shake and his nerves get rattled, causing him to shank one off the noggin of the poor guy in the gallery.

None of them are perfect options. But you're standing there on the tee, and you've gotta go with one. Which one do you choose?

Do you swing big with Dobbs?
Do you play the 4-iron with Mullens?
Or do you see if Hall can somehow get you in the hole in 5 or less?

Or am I way off in my assessment of the 3?
To me Mullens is the #3. His ability is well know and he's a backup.

I would have liked to see Dobbs play with Jefferson for one game at least. To use your golf analogy, Dobbs is playing the game missing his driver. There are some WRs that allow a QB to go to the next level. You could put just about anybody out there with Randy Moss, chuck it up, and have at least some success. I think Jefferson is that kind of receiver. Will Jefferson free up Addison more? Will he force the defense to drop back more and give Dobbs more room to run? That said, Jefferson isn't going to fix the lame duck passes he was sending up on Monday. Dobbs passes were mostly wobbly, floaty, and slow for all of the first 3 quarters. Funnily enough, some of his best looking passes bounced off the receivers hands and ended up INTs.

Hall is the most appealing to me really just because he's unknown and the Vikings have got to figure out what they have in him. He looked pretty sharp and accurate before he took that helmet to helmet. His run to the endzone wouldn't have been bad if he hadn't taken the shot to the head.



I'd start with Hall for a game and stick with him if he looks good. I'd let him have 2 games to see what he's got (unless he melts down) and if he's not the obvious starter after that put Dobbs in and see how he looks with Jefferson.

Usually I'd say I don't want to "play musical QBs" and keep going back and forth between players but the bottom line is the Vikings need to know which QB on the roster gives them the best chance to win and they can't know if they don't play them.

If Dobbs keeps playing like he did on Monday and Hall turns out to be a "normal" 5th round rookie QB and not a quality starter then put in Mullens and do the best you can.
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

Post by Cliff »

As an aside to this, I wonder why teams that don't have a clear-cut starter don't switch QBs out more in game. Not as a punishment for not playing well but as an actual strategy. QB by committee where you rotate them in based on their strengths for a given play.
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

Post by Thaumaturgist »

Cliff wrote: Thu Nov 30, 2023 12:04 pm As an aside to this, I wonder why teams that don't have a clear-cut starter don't switch QBs out more in game. Not as a punishment for not playing well but as an actual strategy. QB by committee where you rotate them in based on their strengths for a given play.
I've wondered the same thing at times...
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

Post by halfgiz »

It’s going to be interesting to see who KOC chooses as a starter.
I would be ok with Hall and Dobbs both getting some playing time against the raiders.

Not a big fan of KOC play calling...Has Wes Phillips ever called plays?
I know it would never happen, but the offense is anemic with KOC calling plays.
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

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Cliff wrote: Thu Nov 30, 2023 10:35 amTo use your golf analogy, Dobbs is playing the game missing his driver.
Even better! Wish I had thought of that.
Cliff wrote: Thu Nov 30, 2023 10:35 amThere are some WRs that allow a QB to go to the next level. You could put just about anybody out there with Randy Moss, chuck it up, and have at least some success. I think Jefferson is that kind of receiver. Will Jefferson free up Addison more? Will he force the defense to drop back more and give Dobbs more room to run?
Good point. JJ is one of those receivers who is going to make any QB better. Also, the attention he draws SHOULD free up somebody like Addison, who has grown a lot in JJ’s absence. In fact, if memory serves me correctly, Addison was WR3 until JJ went down. I’d like to think he’s WR2 now … or even 1B.

Cliff wrote: Thu Nov 30, 2023 10:35 amThat said, Jefferson isn't going to fix the lame duck passes he was sending up on Monday. Dobbs passes were mostly wobbly, floaty, and slow for all of the first 3 quarters. Funnily enough, some of his best looking passes bounced off the receivers hands and ended up INTs.
Also true.
Cliff wrote: Thu Nov 30, 2023 10:35 amHall is the most appealing to me really just because he's unknown and the Vikings have got to figure out what they have in him. He looked pretty sharp and accurate before he took that helmet to helmet. His run to the endzone wouldn't have been bad if he hadn't taken the shot to the head.
Don’t think it’s going to happen. Kwesi and KOC have made it clear that they intend to rebuild but stay competitive. They’re going to play the QB they think gives them the best chance of winning, not use the game as a way to evaluate Hall. It’s fair to argue whether that’s what they SHOULD be doing, but the reality is that they likely don’t see Hall as they guy who gives them the best chance to beat the Raiders.
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

Post by J. Kapp 11 »

Cliff wrote: Thu Nov 30, 2023 12:04 pm As an aside to this, I wonder why teams that don't have a clear-cut starter don't switch QBs out more in game. Not as a punishment for not playing well but as an actual strategy. QB by committee where you rotate them in based on their strengths for a given play.
Probably because it rarely works, even in college. Both college and the NFL have restrictions on practice time. To give enough reps to two quarterbacks that allows them both to be prepared likely doesn’t fall in the window of time they have with them.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a job where you’re paid a fabulous salary and there was a rule limiting how many hours you could work?
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

Post by VikingLord »

Cliff wrote: Thu Nov 30, 2023 12:04 pm As an aside to this, I wonder why teams that don't have a clear-cut starter don't switch QBs out more in game. Not as a punishment for not playing well but as an actual strategy. QB by committee where you rotate them in based on their strengths for a given play.
The Saints do that with Hill. I think a team's willingness to do something like that comes down to who the alternative QB(s) is and what, if anything, he brings to the table that is different than the starter. But if a team has a viable alternative at QB who does present a different set of challenges, it can work as long as it's not overused and the OC doesn't try to get cute with it.

I personally think offensive success requires each element of the offense to flow. The offensive line has to block effectively, and to block effectively requires some sense of what a given QB is likely to do in different situations. Likewise, flow is important for receiver-QB coordination. A QB like Cousins throws a different type of pass than a QB like Dobbs, even on the exact same route. The differences between the two can be minute, but minute differences like the trajectory of the ball, the speed of the ball, or ball placement can make all the difference between a ball being caught or bouncing off the hands and popping up into the air. Timing is so critical on routes in the pros, and there is a good reason why an offense goes through training camp and the preseason getting that timing down.

Of the current QBs on the Vikings, only Dobbs is markedly different than the other options, and he's only different if he scrambles and runs more, which is something that I think KOC is discouraging him to do on one hand and defenses are intentionally taking away on the other hand. If Dobbs doesn't do that or can't do it for whatever reason he's going to be much less effective. If KOC wants a pocket passer his best bet right now is Mullens. Hall might be good too but I doubt he'll risk the rest of this season on a rookie unless Hall has shown something in practice that stands out in a good way. Based on what we know thus far, I'd say that hasn't happened.

If Dobbs gets pulled I fully expect Mullens to get the call. I suspect KOC will give Dobbs at least one more game to get back on track and show what he can do with JJ in the mix, but if the offense continues to struggle I doubt he'll hesitate to give Mullens a shot.
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

Post by Raz »

Cliff wrote: Thu Nov 30, 2023 12:04 pm As an aside to this, I wonder why teams that don't have a clear-cut starter don't switch QBs out more in game. Not as a punishment for not playing well but as an actual strategy. QB by committee where you rotate them in based on their strengths for a given play.
I remember when there was qb drama of Kramer and Dills then Wilson and Gannon. I didn’t care for it but I was a Kramer guy. He just couldn’t stay on the field. Seems someone smarter than me said if you have more than one quarterback you don’t have any.
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

Post by CharVike »

Raz wrote: Thu Nov 30, 2023 10:29 pm
Cliff wrote: Thu Nov 30, 2023 12:04 pm As an aside to this, I wonder why teams that don't have a clear-cut starter don't switch QBs out more in game. Not as a punishment for not playing well but as an actual strategy. QB by committee where you rotate them in based on their strengths for a given play.
I remember when there was qb drama of Kramer and Dills then Wilson and Gannon. I didn’t care for it but I was a Kramer guy. He just couldn’t stay on the field. Seems someone smarter than me said if you have more than one quarterback you don’t have any.
It depends on the QBs. The undefeated Dolphins Morrell started 11 of the 17 wins. Landry in 71 had Morton and Staubach rotate in on plays against the Bears. He finally settled on Staubach. Most recent Nick Foles came in late in the season and won a Super Bowl for the Eagles. Our problem is we have 2 never was or will be guys and a later draft pick who couldn't beat out a never was in camp.
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

Post by VikeFanInEagleLand »

VikingLord wrote: Thu Nov 30, 2023 7:20 pm

The Saints do that with Hill. I think a team's willingness to do something like that comes down to who the alternative QB(s) is and what, if anything, he brings to the table that is different than the starter. But if a team has a viable alternative at QB who does present a different set of challenges, it can work as long as it's not overused and the OC doesn't try to get cute with it.

I personally think offensive success requires each element of the offense to flow. The offensive line has to block effectively, and to block effectively requires some sense of what a given QB is likely to do in different situations. Likewise, flow is important for receiver-QB coordination. A QB like Cousins throws a different type of pass than a QB like Dobbs, even on the exact same route. The differences between the two can be minute, but minute differences like the trajectory of the ball, the speed of the ball, or ball placement can make all the difference between a ball being caught or bouncing off the hands and popping up into the air. Timing is so critical on routes in the pros, and there is a good reason why an offense goes through training camp and the preseason getting that timing down.

Of the current QBs on the Vikings, only Dobbs is markedly different than the other options, and he's only different if he scrambles and runs more, which is something that I think KOC is discouraging him to do on one hand and defenses are intentionally taking away on the other hand. If Dobbs doesn't do that or can't do it for whatever reason he's going to be much less effective. If KOC wants a pocket passer his best bet right now is Mullens. Hall might be good too but I doubt he'll risk the rest of this season on a rookie unless Hall has shown something in practice that stands out in a good way. Based on what we know thus far, I'd say that hasn't happened.

If Dobbs gets pulled I fully expect Mullens to get the call. I suspect KOC will give Dobbs at least one more game to get back on track and show what he can do with JJ in the mix, but if the offense continues to struggle I doubt he'll hesitate to give Mullens a shot.
I'm giving KOC somewhat of a pass on this because I'm sure coaches are kind of in a catch 22 with this type of QB. If you look back in the history of the NFL at all the athletic, scrambling/running QB's, very few of them had long term, Hall Of Fame careers. As soon as their legs started to fail them, they didn't have the skills in the pocket needed to succeed going forward. And that's because they never needed those skills in their entire lives of playing football. These guys never learned to go through all of the progressions and then check down or dump off to a safety valve. They usually looked at the primary receiver, and if he was covered, he took off running. I think KOC is wanting to "coach Dobb's up" a little too much instead of realizing that we just need him to win us games RIGHT NOW. He's not our QB after this year.

It's different if you have a guy that you believe will be your long term QB. For example, if the Vikings draft a 1st rounder that has a strong, accurate arm, and has had success with his legs, THEN I believe you have to be patient for a year or two while you teach him to go through all the progressions, check down if needed and learn when to run. Then you have yourself a QB. Patrick Mahomes will continue to be a good QB after his legs fail him. That's not the case with 90%+ of running QB's.
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Re: What now? A golf analogy

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J. Kapp 11 wrote: Thu Nov 30, 2023 3:17 pmDon’t think it’s going to happen. Kwesi and KOC have made it clear that they intend to rebuild but stay competitive. They’re going to play the QB they think gives them the best chance of winning, not use the game as a way to evaluate Hall. It’s fair to argue whether that’s what they SHOULD be doing, but the reality is that they likely don’t see Hall as they guy who gives them the best chance to beat the Raiders.
I'm not suggesting they don't play the best QB, just that they may not know who that actually is. If they don't feel one gives a significantly better chance to win than the other, they can experiment without hurting the team's chances at the playoffs.

I won't be mad if they stick with Dobbs for at least one more game. If he still looks like he did on Monday with Jefferson on the field I think you've got to play Hall after that point though.