Denver7 | SportsBroncos


Vikings QB Joshua Dobbs boasts great story as 'Passtronaut.' How the Broncos can bring him back down to Earth

Saints Vikings Football
Posted at 4:41 PM, Nov 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-17 19:40:01-05

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Joshua Dobbs' morning routine should be simple — wake up and pinch self.

Dobbs, a 28-year-old journeyman, has been living out a Disney script since arriving by trade to the Minnesota Vikings 17 days ago. He went from losing his job with the Arizona Cardinals to Clayton Tune to sitting in the cockpit of a rocket ship following Kirk Cousins’ season-ending Achilles injury.

In two games with the Vikings — one in relief and last week as a starter — Dobbs has thrown for 426 yards and three touchdowns with 110 yards rushing. He has yet to throw an interception and has gone from learning his teammates' names on the sideline of a game to fans buying his jersey.

It feels a little like the NFL’s version of "Linsanity." NBA vagabond Jeremy Lin captivated the nation in 2011 as a cultural phenomenon. Dobbs has captured the attention of an entire state. He, too, features a cool nickname: “The Passtronaut.”

Dobbs was so smart in college at Tennessee that he interned at NASA while earning a 4.0 GPA in aerospace engineering. He learned an NFL offense in roughly 30 minutes vs. the Falcons.

It's quite the ascent for a quarterback on his fifth team in six years. His resume does not match what the Broncos see on video as they attempt to win their fourth straight game and snap Minnesota’s five-game winning streak.

“The No. 1 thing with [Dobbs] is his poise. He’s obviously bounced around a little bit. But he’s so smart. The fact that you come in (to a new team) and win a football game two days later. That’s not easy,” Broncos star safety Justin Simmons said. “He was working snap count cadences on the sideline before he went into (that first game). That is a testament to the culture they have and the type of guy he is. It’s going to be a really big challenge.”

What Dobbs does well is extend plays. Working in the Broncos' favor is that they didn’t blink vs. Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in consecutive weeks. Both are masters of the second act. That should help Denver in bringing Dobbs back closer to Earth.

“He’s an athletic quarterback who gets out of the pocket and creates scramble drill plays. We have to play him the same way we did Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. I think it helps we just faced them,” outside linebacker Baron Browning said.

There remains a possibility that All-Pro receiver Justin Jefferson will return to the Vikings after missing the past month with a hamstring injury. But make no mistake, Dobbs has already found a favorite target.

Over the last two games, tight end T.J. Hockenson boasts 27 targets, second in the NFL during this time to CeeDee Lamb. Hockenson, a former first-round pick of the Lions, did not have to microwave their relationship. Dobbs threw to Hockenson in the offseason in Nashville at George Kittle’s compound.

“With him in the backfield, you can’t think the play’s over. If he doesn’t get you on the first time or the second time, he’s going to move around.,” said Hockenson, who leads all NFL tight ends with 681 receiving yards. “You just try to find an open area and beat your guy. It’s a little like street ball.”

How the Broncos match up with Hockenson could determine the game’s outcome, especially on third down. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph allowed that is difficult to focus on a tight end on the early downs. As such, it comes down to match-ups. It’s possible that linebackers Alex Singleton, Josey Jewell, Simmons and even cornerback Patrick Surtain II could be shadowing the former Iowa star.

Tight ends have proven a challenge for the Broncos this season. They have allowed 55 receptions for 620 yards and four touchdowns. Travis Kelce, Cole Kmet and Dalton Kincaid gave the Broncos fits. Hockenson conjures images of Kelce but is still different.

“With Travis, he as a rapport with the quarterback that is obviously special. This tight end has been special the last two weeks. A tight end is a young quarterback’s best friend,” Joseph said.

While the Vikings are on a heater, they are rather one-dimensional offensively. They sit 29th in rushing yards per game at 85.7. Dobbs barely knows where the home locker room is, and he ranks third on the team in ground yards. The Bills gashed the Broncos on the ground on Monday night, leaving players and Joseph lamenting the poor tackling, especially on the final drive.

“We have to play our best ball in the biggest moments. We had a great game. It was fun to watch. But when it was time to get them stopped, we didn’t. I was aggravated after that game,” Joseph said. “We had a great session on Tuesday morning. To a man, no one was happy about how we finished. That’s good sign.”

The Broncos are improving. They have inched into the playoff conversation, though anything less than a 6-2 record over the final eight games would make clinching a berth difficult. And yet, they have pulled off back-to-back big upsets.

Up next? Grounding the Passtronaut.