Nick Mullens Weighs in on Decision to Bench Him

nick mullens
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When Kirk Cousins went down in Week 8, the quarterback carousel took off. Jaren Hall got the first start, but trade acquisition Joshua Dobbs replaced him once he suffered a concussion. Dobbs’ continued struggles led to head coach Kevin O’Connell pulling the trigger and inserting veteran backup Nick Mullens into the lineup.

Nick Mullens Weighs in on Decision to Bench Him

Nick Mullens Weighs in on Decision to Bench Him
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Mullens started two games, but once again, turnovers led to a change under center. Rookie Hall will get his second career start on Sunday versus the Green Bay Packers. In those pair of games and a quarter against the Raiders in the previous week, Mullens completed 57 of his 82 passes for 797 yards, four touchdowns, and six interceptions, including the game-sealing pick in the final minute against Detroit.

After throwing four INTs in a game and six in two games, he wasn’t surprised to lose his starting role for rookie Hall, and the long-time backup understands the nature of the NFL.

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He revealed his thoughts on Friday.

I totally understand. To me it’s pretty cut and dry. If I turn the ball over, I’m probably not going to be in the game. I feel like I let the team down and that sucks. You can’t turn the ball over and expect to be a successful QB. It sucks because I felt like we have a great group, and to see guys go through so much during the season, and you get in and you really feel like you let your team down. That weighs on you a good bit.

Nick Mullens

Mullens delivered a classy and mature response, blaming himself for the losses and mistakes instead of trying to throw shade at anyone else. It is more proof of the phenomenal culture the Vikes have in their locker room.

The quarterback provided a necessary spark compared to Dobbs, as he was able to move the offense up and down the field. However, he showed the tendency to turn over the football with his gunslinger play style.

Jefferson Has Starting
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) changes the play at the line of scrimmage prior to a snap in the first quarter of a Week 15 NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Mullens ultimately committed eight turnovers in two games. He threw six interceptions while also losing a pair of fumbles. The Vikings just couldn’t afford to give up bad field position multiple times per game, especially with the defense falling apart in recent weeks.

The hope is that rookie Hall can hang on to the ball, as ball security is the most important aspect for the 2023 Vikings, a team that always wins when winning the turnover battle. Hall fumbled after replacing Cousins in Green Bay as the rookie was understandably overwhelmed by his chance, but he showed poise in his lone quarter of action in Atlanta in the following week. In his two seasons as a starter at BYU, Hall threw only 11 picks.

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Hall said about his opportunity: “You’ve got to realize how fast guys play. You’ve got to be smart about the times you use your legs, and you’ve got to get down. There’s no superhero ball you need to play. The game is won over four quarters, not one play, and you’ve just got to remember that.”

In addition to keeping the ball, his task will be to get the ball to his playmakers, something Mullens did pretty well. That’s how he ended up with almost 400 yards per game.

If Hall can guide the Vikings to a victory, the franchise will keep its playoff hopes alive. Mullens will serve as Hall’s backup.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt