Even after four interceptions, even after he admittedly mulled a quarterback switch, the boyish grin returned to Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell's face Monday.
His quarterback, Joshua Dobbs, had just thrown a late touchdown pass to put the Vikings in prime position to steal a game from the Bears. O'Connell had smiled at Dobbs the same way after improbable touchdowns in his three previous games.
It's the type of smile that seems to say, "I'm not sure how we got here, and I thought we were in some real trouble for a bit there, but it sure was fun now that we made it," like a novice skier who didn't realize he was on an advanced hill but somehow survived all the way to the bottom.
Of course, O'Connell and Dobbs have also hit a lot of trees together in four games. Neither one of them seemed comfortable with the other during most of Monday's eventual 12-10 loss, which turned when O'Connell didn't quite trust Dobbs enough to try to get a key first down that could have put the game away — something I talked about on Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast.
Dobbs looked constrained now that he's more familiar with O'Connell's offense, and O'Connell looked sickened by all of Dobbs' misfires.
Every quarterback can be volatile, but Kirk Cousins represented relative stability: a relatively high floor for his performance, but also a modest ceiling. He was going to stay healthy (until he didn't, for once), run O'Connell's offense and go through his progressions until he found one that was suitably open and safe.
Dobbs' floor is a trap door into a dark dungeon, and his ceiling is the outer space of football. He can make the worst play you've ever seen and the best play you've ever seen in back-to-back plays.
Can O'Connell live with that, at least for five more games? It's a fascinating question that gets to the heart of what coaches want and how much control O'Connell needs.
Will he turn to backup Nick Mullens after the bye? Perhaps give another chance to rookie Jaren Hall, who had a promising debut before his concussion started Dobbs-mania in the first place? Both options are fully healthy and available, as is Dobbs.
Mullens could run O'Connell's offense with more precision and vanilla security, and turning to Mullens would signal a desire for more control and less chaos. Hall has a mix of some familiarity and some playmaking ability, and going back to him would be a nod to both the present and future.
Dobbs is a wild card. He has five passing touchdowns, five interceptions, three rushing touchdowns and three lost fumbles. The Vikings have lost twice and won twice when he was the primary quarterback. He can take you higher, or he can staple you to the ground. Sticking with the Dobbs roller-coaster would require an iron stomach, a comfort within the uncomfortable moments.
A fascinating decision awaits O'Connell, and it's doubtful he'll be grinning while he ponders it.
Here are four more things to know today:
*Wild GM Bill Guerin might have given a team bulletin board material. Strangely, it was his own team. "You can't trade 23 players," Guerin said Tuesday while introducing new head coach John Hynes, who replaced the fired Dean Evason.
Clearly the GM isn't happy with the roster that ... he assembled?
What he didn't say was, "You know, I acquired a lot of those players and gave many of them long-term extensions. You could fire me, but let's start with Dean."
*Draymond Green says he doesn't regret putting Rudy Gobert in a headlock, which led to a five-game suspension. The Wolves and Warriors don't play again until March 24 at Target Center, at which point Green will perhaps be suspended again.
*Perhaps thing less settled than the Vikings QB situation is the Gophers QB situation now that Athan Kaliakmanis is in the transfer portal.
*Andrew Krammer and I will have more on that Vikings situation and just how bad both Dobbs and O'Connell were Monday during Wednesday's podcast.