New Vikings QB Josh Dobbs has quickly become among the talk of the NFL after the trade deadline. After defeating the Atlanta Falcons just five days after being traded to Minnesota from the Arizona Cardinals, Dobbs led the Vikings to a win over the New Orleans Saints that moved the team to 6-4 and gave them a firm grasp on the NFC’s seventh seed.
Dobbs’ recent success in Minnesota has endeared him to many fans (myself included), but some have gone as far to wonder if he is our next franchise QB. I love Josh Dobbs, but I’m here to tell you right now- he is not the future of our franchise. In fact, he’s the second coming of another beloved Vikings backup QB, Case Keenum.
Before I talk about Dobbs, I want to give a quick background on Keenum in case some of you forgot about his time with us a while ago. Keenum, who signed with the Vikings in the 2017 offseason, was an undrafted free agent who had spent time with the Texans and Rams. Thrust into action after an injury to Sam Bradford, Keenum rode a great Viking defense and an incredible offensive roster to a 13-3 season that was capped by the Minneapolis Miracle playoff win over the Saints, before the team fell in the NFC Championship Game to the Philadelphia Eagles. Keenum’s 11-3 record as starter led many to wonder if he was the future of the franchise despite having spent six prior seasons in the league as a backup. After the 2017 season, Keenum was given a dump truck full of money by the QB-hungry Denver Broncos before bouncing around the league a few more times, and the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins.
Josh Dobbs has a similar situation, but without the opportunities Keenum received. Drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017 as a developmental QB, Dobbs has been with several different teams, sometimes not even being on their active roster. However, Dobbs was not given an opportunity to start until Week 17 of 2022 with the Tennessee Titans. Starting the teams’ final two games, he lost both as the Titans missed the playoffs and lost the AFC South division title to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Before this season, Dobbs was traded to the Cardinals from the Cleveland Browns. A placeholder QB until Kyler Murray returned from injury, Dobbs went 1-7 with the Cardinals but showed enough promise that the Vikings traded for him after a season-ending injury to Cousins. Now for the million dollar question- why is Dobbs the new Keenum?
When Keenum thrived, he was surrounded by great coaching and a talented group of offensive weapons. Mike Zimmer’s best defense was fielded during the 2017 season, Pat Shurmur led the offense as the OC, and the Vikings had the league’s best wide receiver duo in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Combine that with an easy schedule, and you had the incredible 2017 season. Prior to arriving in Minnesota, Keenum had a 9-15 record as a starter, and has gone 9-17 since leaving the Vikings.
Similarly, Dobbs walked into a situation where the Vikings had a great offensive mind (Kevin O’Connell), and plenty of talented weapons (Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson). While Dobbs is adding a dynamic element to this offense that it lacked with Cousins, he is also greatly benefiting from his supporting cast. Dobbs has also had the benefit of playing two dysfunctional NFC South teams in the Saints and Falcons, and has upcoming games against the Bears, Raiders, and Joe Burrow-less Bengals. After tomorrow’s game against the Broncos, the toughest games left on the Vikings’ schedule are the two games against the Lions.
Now, there are differences between Dobbs’ and Keenum’s tenures here. Dobbs has had to deal with a banged up roster, whereas Keenum had the benefit of a mostly healthy Vikings team. This season, dating back to his first start with Arizona, was also Dobbs’ first true opportunity at being an NFL starter. Despite these differences, however, I believe Dobbs is a high-end, Keenum-level backup. He’s a great placeholder QB for a team with an injury at the position, but he is nothing more. If he was a starter, he would’ve been long into a tenure with a certain team now, as this is his seventh season in the league.
Dobbs is a great backup, but not a starter. A free agent this offseason, I assume that a QB-hungry team will probably do what Denver did with Keenum- throw him a dump truck full of money to be their full-time starter, then realize that he is not franchise material. This article is not meant to be a shot at Dobbs, but it’s just the reality of the current situation. I hope Josh does really well for the rest of the year and I hope he’s with the team for a while, but not as the future of the franchise.