The Arizona Cardinals traded Dobbs and a conditional seventh-round pick to the Vikings, in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
While Dobbs is coming in to help solidify the Vikings’ quarterback room, another signal caller — rookie Jaren Hall, a fifth-round pick out of BYU — is expected to get the start Sunday in the team’s Week 9 game at Atlanta.
Hall filled in after Cousins left last Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers in a 24-10 Vikings victory.
“We do plan to start Jaren Hall on Sunday,” Minnesota coach Kevin O’Connell told reporters Tuesday. “As we work through the week, we’ll keep you guys posted on that. Excited to see what Jaren can do.
“... Our team is still improving, and solidifying the quarterback room and the depth there to give us multiple guys that we feel we can go out and win with was important, and we feel like Josh does that.”
LIVE: Head Coach Kevin O'Connell speaks to the media. https://t.co/q8dgZcFKP0
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 31, 2023
What it means for Jaren Hall and the Vikings quarterback room
Hall played two full series — and a couple of kneel downs to end the game — during the fourth quarter of the Vikings’ win over the Packers in his first NFL regular-season action.
He completed 3 of 4 passes for 23 yards, including a 16-yarder to convert a key third down, but was also strip-sacked inside the Minnesota 20, leading to a turnover.
The win was Minnesota’s third straight and moved the team to 4-4 on the season.
Hall moved into the backup role after veteran Nick Mullens, the Vikings’ QB2 to start the season, was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 11.
O’Connell said the past few weeks of scout-team reps and the extra work Hall has received have been a positive throughout his development process.
“He has been, since Nick went down, just a snap away,” O’Connell said. “The preparation has started long before this week on preparing him to play for us. This is where we’ll see the benefit of that and the hard work that’s been done that nobody’s really seen.
“Hopefully that will give Jaren the confidence to attack this week the right way and play well on Sunday.”
While keeping in mind that Hall is a 25-year-old rookie with minimal live-action experience, O’Connell wants to make sure his young quarterback doesn’t get too far ahead of himself.
“This is about one snap at a time and doing your job, making sure you effectively run our offense. It’s on us as coaches to put together a plan that gives us an opportunity to do that,” O’Connell said. “If it works, we’ll see his development before our eyes.
“He’s physically capable, he’s mentally capable, I think he’s made up of the right stuff. I love the way he’s attacked whatever role he’s been in throughout the season. This is the time for work behind the scenes to pay off.”
In addition to Dobbs and Mullens — who could return off IR as early as Week 10 — the Vikings have eighth-year pro Sean Mannion on the practice squad.
Mullens has the most starting experience as a pro — he started 16 games over three seasons for San Francisco earlier in his career, and started one game in Cleveland prior to joining the Vikings.
O’Connell expressed that they won’t rush Mullens back until he’s ready, though there’s no timeline at this point.
“Hopefully we’re going to have Nick back, I can’t tell you when that’s going to be,” he said.
What it means for Josh Dobbs
The move comes barely two months after the Cardinals acquired the seventh-year pro Dobbs to serve as Arizona’s starter as the organization waited for franchise quarterback Kyler Murray, who is coming back from a torn ACL last season, to be available.
Dobbs has started eight games for the Cardinals this year, though on Monday, head coach Jonathan Gannon indicated that if Murray wasn’t available to play this week, the team would turn to rookie fifth-rounder Clayton Tune. Murray recently went off IR and his status is “day-to-day,” Gannon said.
Dobbs led Arizona to a 1-7 record during his time in the desert, after being traded to the team from Cleveland just before the start of the regular season.
He completed 62.8% of his passes for the Cardinals for 1,569 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions, while also running 258 yards and three touchdowns.
For Dobbs, this is his eighth NFL team in seven seasons — prior to this year, he had started two games in relief for the Tennessee Titans last season. He had fewer than 500 career passing yards heading into the 2023 season.
O’Connell praised Dobbs for his athleticism and football intelligence, as well as his work in a variety of offenses, and said he thought it was important to solidify the position with the addition of Dobbs.
“Josh gives us an experienced player who’s started some games not only this year but last and has played some good football against some of the best defenses in our league and found ways to move the ball,” O’Connell said.
The Vikings coach said the team will get him ready potentially for Sunday in a supportive role behind Hall.
Could Dobbs be in the mix to start at some point?
“Yeah. Hopefully Jaren goes out and plays great on Sunday, and there’s a lot to build off of out there,” O’Connell said. “We’re still going to prepare Josh Dobbs like he’s not only one snap away but as we move forward, what gives us the best chance to win.”
The Athletic’s Alec Lewis wrote that Dobbs fits what O’Connell seeks in his system.
“Though the Vikings drafted Hall for a reason, the team is in an interesting spot. Minnesota is 4-4 and in the NFC playoff picture. Having a rookie start games does not align with the team’s belief that it can push for a postseason spot, especially given the way its defense has developed under first-year coordinator Brian Flores,” Lewis wrote.
“Dobbs, simultaneously, fits a lot of what O’Connell seeks in a QB — accuracy, field vision and functional mobility. His integration into the offense should happen fast and, depending on the availability of Mullens, give him a solid chance at starting.”
What it means for the Vikings’ future at quarterback
O’Connells explained that by acquiring Dobbs, it helps Minnesota bring in quarterback depth for the present without sacrificing assets for the future.
Cousins is in the final year of his contract with the team, which clouds what the future may hold beyond 2023 at the position.
“I think he was playing about as good as anyone in the National Football League. One of the hardest parts about coping with this, we must do that, but coping with the fact I believe he was experiencing his best season in the National Football League, and where we could have gone as a team,” O’Connell said of Cousins.
In his sixth season as the Vikings starter, Cousins completed 69.5% of his passes over eight games for 2,331 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions — he was on pace to have his highest completion percentage and touchdown passes in a season for the organization.
“Hopefully we’re going to still get to that place, but without Kirk Cousins and that high level of quarterback play we were getting from him week in and week out, it’s going to be a challenge, one that we’ve got to accept and we’ve got to thrive,” O’Connell said.