Enjoy a Tuesday notes column.
The Vikings, now with a 6-6 record, produced one fourth quarter touchdown and a first half field goal in last night’s 12-10 loss to the 4-8 Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. In his fourth game with the Vikings, journeyman quarterback Josh Dobbs threw four interceptions and other balls that were off target as Minnesota’s struggling offense was limited to 169 net yards passing and 73 yards rushing.
Dobbs, now 2-2 with Minnesota, transformed from hero to troublesome with his performance. The 28-year-old fit the labels that have followed him during his NFL career with other teams. He has been profiled as a QB who makes poor decisions and has ball security issues.
After the game Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell was asked about his quarterback: “Yeah, Josh, as much as he’s done some really good things for us, he is still getting comfortable in our pass game, play-pass game, knowing where quick eligibles are to put the ball in play. Drop back pass, taking the right footwork, feet, and eyes, all those things. We’re working through that. Just, I think three of the interceptions were off of tip balls. Rhythm and timing of our offense just not feeling as crisp as we want to. …”
The Bears had seven penalties for 76 yards in the game. Their offense, with 317 net yards, was better than the Vikings at 242 but produced no touchdowns. Quarterback Justin Fields fumbled twice in the fourth quarter, once killing a drive that figured to set up an easy field goal.
Vikings veteran safety Harrison Smith is an admirer of versatile teammate Josh Metellus who forced two fumbles last night. Metellus can play multiple positions on defense and also contribute on special teams. “It’s a big deal,” Smith said recently about Metellus’ versatility. “He can play pretty much any role you want on defense, and he’s a really good specials teamer when you need hm out there. He’s just a football player. A really good one. You can put him anywhere and he’s going to affect the game. That’s really valuable. …”
Labeled the “Swiss Army Knife” by teammates, Metellus is used at nickelback, cornerback, linebacker and safety. He told Sports Headliners recently it can be challenging getting enough reps in practice at multiple positions. Not being able to “fine tune everything” on the field, Metellus will mentally rehearse to prepare. Regardless of position, he wants to play relaxed. “Just run around and hit,” he said.
Smith played eight seasons with Anthony Barr before he left the Vikings during the 2022 offseason. When the Vikings needed a linebacker earlier this month Smith put in a word to O’Connell and Barr was signed to the practice squad. He was elevated to the playing roster before last night’s game.
“I am a little biased because we’ve been good friends for a while, but yeah I told him (O’Connell) what I know about him as a player and a guy,” Smith said. “He’s a guy you want on your side. Big body, athletic, smart. You can do a lot with him.”
Smith, BTW, remains an avid golfer with a low handicap. His golf buddy on the team is linebacker Jordan Hicks.
St. Paul native Phil Housley, an assistant coach with the Rangers and former NHL great player, would have been a popular fan choice to succeed Dean Evason as Wild head coach. A hockey insider said Housley shares a friendship with Wild GM Bill Guerin who has hired former Predators’ coach John Hynes.
High school football players can sign national Letters of Intent on December 20. The Gophers’ 2024 class has 22 verbal commits and local recruiting authority Ryan Burns told Sports Headliners this group is “potentially the best one” of the P.J. Fleck era dating back to 2017.
There are no guarantees (as usual) that all the verbal commits will sign their paperwork. Other programs will be in pursuit of Minnesota commits in the weeks ahead. Defensive lineman Jide Abasiri from Eden Prairie High School recently received an offer from USC. The Gophers’ highest ranked commit by 247Sports, safety Koi Perich from Esko, has offers from USC, Florida State, Michigan and Ohio State.
Another Gopher commit receiving attention is quarterback Drake Lindsey from Fayetteville, Arkansas. Burns said Lindsey was using a Gopher towel a few days ago when his team won its state semifinals game and advanced to this week’s championship.
The Minnesota class is No. 30 in the 247Sports national composite rankings for 2024. Burns predicts the Gophers could add another commit or two. Possible positions? “You can’t take enough quality offensive and defensive linemen,” he said.
Brian Dutcher, the Bloomington native who coached the San Diego State Aztecs to the Final Four last spring, is featured in the CBS Sports series “Home Court.” Earlier in the year filming was done in California, Michigan and Minnesota where Brian sat on camera with his father, former Gophers Big Ten championship coach Jim Dutcher.
Brian was with three Final Four teams as an assistant at Michigan. He waited during part or all of four decades as an assistant at Michigan and San Diego State before getting his first head job at age 57 with the Aztecs. “He doesn’t chase other jobs,” said Jim who got his first head job at age 20 coaching Alpena Community College.
The Aztecs home games are sold out for the season. They are playing one of the most difficult nonconference schedules in the country with opponents that include Gonzaga, California, Stanford and Washington.
With starting pitchers Kenta Maeda and Sonny Gray headed to other teams, have to wonder if the Twins won’t trade veteran second baseman Jorge Polanco for mound help. Polanco, 30, is expected to make $10.5 million next season, according to Mlb.com/news who pointed out Monday the Twins have talented young infielders in Edouard Julien, Brooks Lee and Austin Martin.
Condolences to family and friends of Ed Cohen, 92, who passed away recently. A Twin Cities attorney, Ed served over 65 years as a member of the Gophers football gameday statistics crew.
Ed loved to tell stories and one of his tales was about Sid Hartman who in addition to being a newspaper man was an executive for the Minneapolis Lakers. Hartman was so critical of the officiating during a game that the referees wanted him ejected from the building. Hartman, sitting near courtside, refused. The refs had a crew remove the bolts from Hartman’s seat and he was carried out of the arena, Ed said.