Vikings HC Explains QB Choice

Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Tuesday., July 25th, 2023. The Vikings won the NFC North in Kevin O'Connell's first year, thanks to a 13-4 record. O'Connell's is the league's second-youngest coach as of 2023.

Everything about the Minnesota Vikings’ 2023 season changed on October 29th when Kirk Cousins tore his Achilles tendon.


Vikings HC Explains QB Choice

The club, on paper, should’ve rolled over and died, especially because phenom wideout Justin Jefferson was in the middle of a seven-game absence. Yet, entering Week 15, the Vikings absolutely control their playoff destiny, slated with a 63% chance of reaching the January dance, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI).

And after Cousins was lost for the year, Minnesota, out of sheer healthy necessity, tabbed rookie quarterback Jaren Hall for duty in Week 9 at the Atlanta Falcons. He was concussed about a half hour into that game, and newcomer passer Joshua Dobbs took the baton — followed by two interstellar games.

A month later, Dobbs had fully regressed and was benched on Sunday at the Las Vegas Raiders. The team’s original QB2, Nick Mullens, entered the game, providing the juice for a game-winning field goal. All the Vikings needed was three points to oust the Raiders, and the game ended with a 3-0 score.

HC Explains QB
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The next day, Minnesota wouldn’t name a Week 15 starter, but soon after, head coach Kevin O’Connell squashed the mystery, tagging Mullens with the QB1 title, and he’ll take the reins this Saturday at the Cincinnati Bengals.

O’Connell explained Tuesday’s decision: “There’s a reason we went out and got Nick when we did: to solidify that position. Anytime you’re going out to try to find a quarterback that … when he’s one snap away, can win you some football games, you look for certain traits. Nick has them all.”

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Saturday will mark Mullens’ 18th start as a pro, previously running the show in San Francisco (16 starts) and Cleveland (one start).

“I love everything about his preparation. He allows us to go prepare with a plan and doesn’t need a whole lot of reps to then go in and execute that plan,” O’Connell continued.

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Mullens provides a Cousins-lite package, vastly different from Dobbs’ mobile regimen, which was often infused with manufactured chaos.

O’Connell concluded by examining the quarterback swap from Dobb’s viewpoint, “I think Josh understands the process and where we’ve been at. I think he has respect for the opportunity he had and some of the really good things that he did. But … I do believe that Nick Mullens gives us the best chance to win the football game this Saturday, and that’s the decision we made.”

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Mullens delivered these stats in 17 starts, which is basically a full season, although disjointed from 2018 to present:

  • 4,552 Passing Yards
  • 24 Passing TDs
  • 21 INTs
  • 64.4 Completion %

The veteran gunslinger also allows the Vikings to push the ball downfield to targets like Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison. Dobbs hadn’t produced a spark via feeding wide receiver in five showings.

Cincinnati is favored by 3.5 points versus Minnesota this weekend.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by