There’s One Main Reason to Watch the Vikings Preseason Game

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This year will be different at least in the preseason.

The Minnesota Vikings have never kicked off a preseason game with QB1 Kirk Cousins entering the final year of his contract with the club. This offseason, Minnesota’s leadership regime opted not to extend Cousins, who turns 35 on August 19th, paving the way for incredibly intriguing months next February, March, and April.

There’s One Main Reason to Watch the Vikings Preseason Game

Many expected the Vikings to draft a quarterback a few months ago — Will Levis, Hendon Hooker, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson were available — and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah did just that, but he waited until Round 5.

And that round, plus those after it, are usually burial grounds for QB1 prospects.

Nevertheless, the Vikings selected Jaren Hall from BYU, and he alone is worth turning on the television this Thursday night for Minnesota’s first preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Main Reason to Watch
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Why? Well, it will be the very beginning of an eventual verdict on Hall’s long-term trajectory. Without Cousins expressly attached to the Vikings beyond 2023, now is the time to realize if Hall can take the big job in Minnesota sometime soon.

Of course, one single preseason game won’t ‘tell all’ about his future, but fans will begin to see what the young man has to offer. He’s 25 years old, so he should be more game-ready than most. Too, the Vikings, under head coach Kevin O’Connell, don’t play starters in preseason games, meaning Hall and his quarterback teammate Nick Mullens should get all of the quarterback action.

Rookie minicamp highlights from Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall’s first practice as a Viking after being selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. Minnesota found Hall in Round 5 of the event, and he could serve as QB3 in 2023.

In 2021 and 2022, the Vikings encountered a somewhat similar situation with Kellen Mond. Yet, when Mond auditioned in preseason games, Cousins was never scheduled for imminent departure. This preseason is different. If the Vikings finish the 2023 season with an underwhelming record or another early-round playoff exit, the club will almost assuredly move on from Cousins after six seasons.

Then, they’ll need a quarterback — whether exploring a trade for Kyler Murray or Trey Lance, drafting the next guy at QB1 in early rounds, or promoting Hall.

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It’s worth noting that the Vikings generally end up rolling with Sean Mannion at QB2 in years past, and his performances in preseason games always ended with whimpers — and fans wondering, “Why do we have this guy at QB?”

Theoretically, Hall should be the anti-Mannion — young, athletic, big-armed, and nimble. Unless he looks awful, he isn’t guaranteed to inspire scowls from Vikings fans, as many preseason games did in 2019 through early 2022.

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Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips said about Hall in June, “There’s a lot to learn in a short time, but so far, he’s progressed really well. He’s learning how to play in an NFL system. They have a great program at BYU, and their system’s great for what they do, but there’s definitely some different things that he’s had to work on with footwork and kind of tying your feet to the reads, which is a little different, I think, than maybe what he’s done.”

So, get your finest snacks and drinks prepared for late Thursday night — it’s a 9:00 pm CST kickoff — and watch Hall, not Mannion, handle some of the QB duties. There’s a small chance he becomes the Vikings future QB1.

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).

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