The Vikings fell 12-10 to the Bears on Monday Night Football after the offense turned the ball over four times and the defense allowed a long drive late.
Joshua Dobbs was bottlenecked, rushing just two times for 11 yards, and threw four interceptions (three were on deflected passes) against one touchdown that had put Minnesota up 10-9 with less than six minutes remaining.
Minnesota dropped to 6-6 on its way into its much-needed Week 13 bye.
The Vikings will return to action in Week 14 when they visit the Raiders (5-7) in Las Vegas.
Next Gen Stats
Effects of the interceptions
Another week, another round of Minnesota committing too many turnovers.
Dobbs' first interception occurred on a ball that wasn't guided quite far enough, allowing Jaylon Johnson to drop back and elevate for the football.
The next three occurred after tipped passes. Each had a negative effect on the Vikings chances of winning.
Here are the win probability percentage drops according to Next Gen Stats.
At the Chicago 44 (on second-and-12 from the Minnesota 35): Minus 7.6 percent
At the Chicago 35 (on third-and-4 from the Minnesota 49): Minus 10.1 percent
At the Chicago 31 (on fourth-and-3 from the Chicago 44): Minus 4.7 percent
At the Minnesota 38 (on first-and-10 at the Minnesota 36): Minus 16.6 percent
Hunter Elite Again
Danielle Hunter is playing tremendous football and added to his list of impressive performances. NGS credited Hunter with a season-high 10 pressures and a pressure rate of 22.7 percent on 44 pass rushes.
Hunter recorded four of his pressures on 10 matchups with Bears left tackle Braxton Miller, and three of his 10 pressures were recorded in fewer than 2.5 seconds.
The Vikings recorded their highest win probability of the game (78 percent) while leading 10-9 and after Josh Metellus forced a fumble recovered by Anthony Barr with 3:28 remaining. After a quick three-and-punt, that dropped to 56 percent.
It lingered at 51 percent after an incompletion on second-and-10, but Justin Fields' 36-yard pass to DJ Moore on third-and-10 sent Chicago's win probability from 49 to 83 percent.
Minnesota's five starting offensive linemen — LT Christian Darrisaw, LG Dalton Risner, C Garrett Bradbury, RG Ed Ingram and RT Brian O'Neill — and Dobbs played all 55 offensive snaps.
Receivers Jordan Addison (53) and K.J. Osborn (47) each played more than 85 percent of Minnesota's offensive snaps. Brandon Powell (36) took the next most at the position.
T.J. Hockenson (44) again led Vikings tight ends, followed by Josh Oliver (21) and Johnny Mundt (seven).
Alexander Mattison (31) rotated with Ty Chandler (18) at running back, and fullback C.J. Ham was on the field for 11 offensive snaps, continuing to come in as the back on third-down passes.
Five defensive players — cornerback Byron Murphy, Jr., linebacker Ivan Pace, Jr., and safeties Harrison Smith, Camryn Bynum and Josh Metellus — played all 70 defensive snaps. Pace started in place of Jordan Hicks for the second consecutive week.
Outside linebackers D.J. Wonnum (69) and Danielle Hunter (65), along with rookie cornerback Mekhi Blackmon (66) each played at least 93 percent of Minnesota's defensive snaps.
Harrison Phillips (49) again led Vikings defensive linemen, followed by Jonathan Bullard (43).
Troy Dye (26) participated in an increased role at linebacker for the second consecutive week.
Sheldon Day, who was signed to Minnesota's active roster last week, played 21 snaps on the defensive line and recovered one fumble. Veteran Anthony Barr played 14 snaps on defense and recovered another fumble after being elevated from the practice squad.
From the Inbox
The Josh Dobbs story has been uplifting and inspirational, and I hope this opportunity with the Vikes helps him secure a permanent starting QB spot in the NFL someday. But he definitely has a lot of room for improvement and to grow. In the previous two-plus games, he played well enough that we could/should have won all of those games. Dobbs hasn't been as accurate as anyone would like, but his mobility offsets the throwing advantage of Cousins. However, this Bears game is the first game where I truly felt that we would have unequivocally won had Cousins been our QB. No way that Kirk-o misses that sideline pass to [Jordan] Addison, and numerous other throws by Dobbs that were just slightly off wouldn't be an issue. Cousins is significantly more expensive than Dobbs, so that is a factor, but our chances of victory are also significantly higher with Cousins. Can we win a Super Bowl with Cousins? Definitely up for debate, but with a much-improved defense and the offensive skill players that we have, if we get hot at the right time, it's at least a possibility. And that's all that we're hoping for as fans of the Purple and Gold.
— Ted C.
The Dobbs story has included a little bit of everything. From an improbable debut in relief to a dazzling first half in his first start to turnovers at Denver and against Chicago that are prompting the Vikings to reevaluate their whole approach at the quarterback position during their bye week.
Cousins was playing some incredible football when he suffered his Achilles injury, which requires an extensive rehab process amidst the final year on his current contract.
The Bears were credited with maintaining their rush lanes to keep Dobbs in the pocket, but it seemed like the amount of time he spent in it was noticeably different compared to his first couple of games.
There's a bit to be said for Dobbs having a poor game yet delivering the go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough.
Last night (the game started at 2:15 a.m. in Germany) was difficult for me. I asked myself a couple times why I decided I couldn't just watch the Replay multiple times in the game. But when I thought about it, there were quite a few positives in the game, I would still like to point out.
Our defense didn't allow a single TD in a game in which we gave the ball away 4 (!!) times. We didn't have any long drives on offense to give them a breather, and they still stepped up again and again. For half the season now, our defense has been the true star of the team. We held opponents to 20 points six times of the last seven games. We put pressure on Fields for 57 minutes of game time. Hunter plays a brilliant season, and it's baffling to me he doesn't get more recognition as the great player he is outside of Minnesota. No one can be happy with the game overall, but there was good stuff in there as well. And I would rather think a few positive thoughts in our bye than get depressed with our offensive showing.
That being said, do you know who calls those end of game drives for the defense? This wasn't the first game we stopped doing what worked for literally the whole game in the last few minutes, and I just don't get it. The Bears had no answer for the blitz package. [Defensive Coordinator Brian] Flores did and does such a great job with the defense, but those end-of-game drives don't work at all. Was it a decision among the coaching staff before the game (season?) to play end-of-game scenarios like this or is Flores alone deciding on the approach? I'll be sad either way if (/when) Flores isn't here anymore next season and gets a well-deserved HC-gig.
— Alexander Markhart in Germany
Appreciate your commitment to follow the team in real time and your continued resilience. The defense has been so great for extended periods of the games, but the turnovers have forced them to try to deliver too many times.
In comparison to last year, if you had said the defense will allow one combined touchdown in Weeks 11-12, there's a strong chance you'd expect the Vikings to win both games. Flores has done a great job, but it does seem like the mobility threats posed by Russell Wilson at Denver and Fields affected Minnesota's methodology.
The reduction in pressure allowed Fields to move the ball and throw the dagger into the Vikings hearts for 36 yards.
Injuries have tested the defense at key positions, but the unit has done really well at mitigating that.
Houston, we have a problem! "The Passtronaut" is turning into "The Pass-for-naught." OK, terrible wordplay aside, Josh Dobbs has regressed as he's learned more of the [O'Connell] offense and as the backyard football is replaced with standard "color in the lines" ball, we're seeing why Dobbs bounced around the league a bit. He has the heart and brains to succeed but the skill sets of Tarvaris Jackson and Christian Ponder combined. I was expecting to see a disgruntled Brad Childress or stone-faced Leslie Frazier on the sidelines after a couple of those picks.
Now that I've brought our minds back to those terrible days of Viking fandom, it's probably best we stay there because this team is headed for that style of mediocre finish. Winning five games in a row without J.J. was a fun ride. The Josh Dobbs story was thrilling and short, but reality is 6 and 6. No real chance at the division (despite Detroit trying to keep us in it), a first-round loss in the playoffs probably awaits and no clarity for the future QB of this team.
My opinion is get Jaren Hall back in there after the bye with your full offense and let the rookie finish out the season. Dobbs is not the answer. Mullens isn't the answer. As well as Kirk played before injury, a 36-year-old coming back from an Achilles is no sure thing. Hall showed flashes during that second drive in Atlanta and giving him five meaningful games in a playoff chase is the perfect scenario to find out if he's more Brock Purdy or, uh, Josh Dobbs.
I can understand the sense of urgency to make this stretch run count, make the playoffs and hope for the best but reality shows up every game and reminds us, "This is not a championship-caliber team." If Jaren Hall steps up and sells himself as a starter in this league, then you can build around a QB in the second year of a rookie contract. Spend money to put a team around him (a task that's already partially finished) and maybe turn into the 49ers of the North for a few years. If he flops, you can turn attention back to Cousins without controversy.
It's tough to turn the page on a season with a 6-6 record and the playoffs in reach. It was tough to turn that game off last night when the score was 3-3 and a win was in reach but when you choose to live in reality, accepting the truth is important. Love the purple! I'll love the purple 'til I die but our favorite Minnesota sports saying has reared it's ugly head on another team's season. "Maybe next year," so maybe this year we should start planning for it?
— Brian Marconett
If you haven't checked out Lindsey's recap from O'Connell's Tuesday session, please **do so here**. It covers plenty of thoughts O'Connell shared with regard to evaluating the quarterback situation.
I like what Hall showed in a small sample size at Atlanta, and I also thought Mullens had a really good training camp. Mullens, however, hasn't played in a game since the preseason.
In less than a month, the Dobbs story has gone from Cinderella to midnight. There's more to that story after midnight, but that will be up to O'Connell and Vikings assistants and quarterbacks to write for the remainder of this season.
The team will obviously focus on the final five games of the season before turning to any long-term resolutions.
After Monday's game, I hope the coaches stress to Dobbs that it's OK to take a sack sometimes. The last two games he has tried to throw the ball away while being tacked, resulting in intentional grounding calls and a tipped pass resulting in an interception. I love the mobility he provides, but these are bad decisions contributing to our recent offensive struggles.
— David Winger
As much as sacks are publicized, I guess it's sometimes hard to remember or counterintuitive that a sack isn't the worst possible outcome. A grounding penalty essentially carries the same weight as a sack since it's the spot of the foul plus a loss of down, but putting the ball into danger is hard to ever justify, unless it's "at all costs," which I guess could be the view on the one that occurred on fourth down.
As a lifelong Viking fan dating back to the Tarkenton days, I have played and watched a lot of football.
Coach Kevin O. appears to be on a steep learning curve this year as it relates to in-game play calling and "timeout" usage. He has much to learn and "react" to with instincts. Not calculations.
I will only provide a few key observations in this note and thanks for reading it.
- Dobbs is not Cousins. He is actually the "opposite." Play calling must change to support the skills of Dobbs. Coach K cannot expect Dobbs to be a pure pocket passer. Even at Tennessee, that was not Dobbs.
- The head coach needs to leverage Dobbs' skill set as a runner. Many more RPO's needed. On third down and 3 or 4, don't call a deep out or "fly" pass; rather a rollout, RPO and you will get your first down.
- The reason Dobbs won his first two games was he was "freewheeling." What do I have to lose mentality at work. Now, it appears, Coach K is trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. Dobbs needs his own plays to run that he can feel confident with to be honest. He needs to run; rollout, QB draws, QB sweeps, QB end arounds with pitch options, etc. Then the occasional deep outs or TE over the seam in the middle.
It was easy for me to see from my chair in the living room. I get that. But the Vikings have much more talent than the Bears. Denver too. At home, that is a must win game. Goodness. The head coach must adapt to his new QB. He will never be a pure pocket passer. He is closer to a C.J. Stroud type. A little bit like Lamar Jackson (A bit slower in running, I realize).
Honestly, if Coach K does not alter his mentality a bit about Dobbs and create some plays for Dobbs and forget about Cousins and a pure pocket passer, the Vikings may not win another game.
The last two games were totally winnable and should have been Ws. Last night was like eating a vanilla cone at Dairy Queen, no toppings. Bland and again, playing to "try not to lose."
— MBShaw in Kansas City
It's a bit concerning that more time learning the system and trying to deploy it have led to decreases in production for Dobbs.
I thought the athleticism and ability to escape provided a cool and entertaining bridge as Dobbs was getting more up to speed, but Monday's game offered little of either.
O'Connell readily admitted that they haven't had a quarterback with the mobility of Dobbs in this system so it's been somewhat uncharted water. O'Connell has also mentioned rhythm and timing — and how those can affect placement of the football, which seemed small but appeared to prevent the conversion on the fourth-and-7 pass that gained 6-plus, as well as the deep one to Addison.
As coaches evaluate everything, they'll have to weigh in trying to fit the system to Dobbs' skill set vs. going another direction with Mullens or Hall based on their greater familiarity with executing the system.
Really?!?! A loss to the Bears! What was that garbage? Never going to catch the Lions with poor play like this.
— Dave (Vikings Fan in Detroit)
Disappointing to say the least. The Vikings failed to capitalize on the Packers (5-6) upending the Lions (8-3) on Thanksgiving.
Minnesota (6-6) now likely needs to win out, including a sweep of Detroit, plus get some external help — which has been hard to find this season — in order to win the NFC North. The Lions do have to visit the Cowboys in Week 17 between the two games with the Vikings. Detroit also is visiting New Orleans and Chicago and hosting Denver in the next three weeks.
The Vikings are currently seventh in the NFC, which would earn the final Wild Card spot, but three teams — the Packers, Rams and Saints — are right behind them with 5-6 records. Minnesota will host Green Bay in Week 17, and that one could still have incredible importance toward Wild Card standings, as well.
Long-time fan, first time writing. Everyone is in love with Coach Flores, but the last two games are lost because of ineffective 2-minute drills and the exact same can be said with O'Connell. It seems their egos get in the way and doesn't allow them to put players into position to succeed. Ouch.
— Roger in Western Iowa
Appreciate you sending in your thoughts for the first time. It's hard to fault Flores and his group too much considering the unit started a rookie cornerback (Blackmon) and rookie linebacker (Ivan Pace, Jr.) and has been without the services of edge rusher Marcus Davenport for so much of the season.
The disadvantage in time of possession, which has happened often this season because of all the turnovers, probably didn't help as the group tried to close out Monday's game. There's probably a couple of approaches they'd change, but it's tough to see such a similar outcome (go-ahead scores allowed within final 63 seconds of past two games) in consecutive weeks.
Wilson has a long-established record of game-winning drives, but Monday was just the third for Fields.