Nick Mullens Is Absolutely Right for Vikings

Nick Mullens got his first start as the Minnesota Vikings QB on Saturday at Cincinnati. Minnesota lost 27-24, but Mullens was productive while causing a couple of turnovers. He joined the Vikings in late summer of 2022 and has served as the team's QB2 since.

The guy can fling it. What more do you want?

That’s Nick Mullens’ modus operandi, and he’s the current starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. The previous QB1, Kirk Cousins, was injured with a torn Achilles on October 29th and won’t return in 2023 unless the Vikings reach the Super Bowl and Cousins defies conventional medicine.

Nick Mullens Is Absolutely Right for Vikings

After the Cousins injury, Minnesota auditioned Jaren Hall and Joshua Dobbs at quarterback, two experiments that fizzled for different reasons. Hall was concussed about 30 minutes into his QB1 life and didn’t get another shot at the job. Dobbs took over, set the planet ablaze, and badly polluted the same planet, resulting in a bench assignment in Week 14.

Nick Mullens Is Absolutely
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Mullens took over at the Las Vegas Raiders after Dobbs was yanked, helped win that game by a 3-0 score, and did his damnedest during the Vikings road game at the Cincinnati Bengals last weekend. The veteran passer banked 303 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 wild interceptions.

And that’s what Mullens does. He slings it. He slings it up and down, side to side, and all around the damn place. As a franchise cornerstone, that wouldn’t work for the long haul — hence why Mullens is a reservist quarterback.

QB for Cincinnati
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

But to keep the season afloat and playoffs within reach, Mullens is perfect for Minnesota. He does what Dobbs could not; Mullens gives his wide receivers and tight ends chances to make plays. The interceptions won’t entirely minimize, but Mullens’ Deadwood-on-a-football-field persona is the recipe.

Unsurprisingly, the numbers support his continuation as the Vikings’ quarterback, albeit in a small sample size. Mullens has only quarterbacked 1.25 games in 2023, but at the moment, he qualifies as one of the sport’s best quarterbacks, according to EPA+CPOE, an Expected Wins Added analytical metric.

This is the league’s QB pecking order per EPA+CPOE:

Yes, that’s Mullens ranked at No. 2. Per the stat, only Brock Purdy is more efficient at adding wins.

Does this mean Mullens won’t drive you, the Vikings fan, bonkers once or twice per game? No. Nicholas Clayton Mullens will absolutely drive you bonkers once or twice per game. It’s part of his schtick. Gunslingers gun sling, and if Vikings fans want the club to grab a Wildcard playoff berth, they better get used to the mussy skillset. He’s the J.R. Smith of the NFL. Some passes will bedazzle; others will not.

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.

In Dobbs — who saved the Vikings’ season in Weeks 9 and 10 — Minnesota had a slinger. But he didn’t sling guns. Dobbs slung stuff, in general. There were no guns, just wild scrambles wrapped in disharmony. When Dobbs threw outside the numbers, it would prompt you to text a friend, saying, “He actually threw to the sideline!”

Mullens isn’t like that. He’ll throw to the sidelines, in between the numbers, to the endzone, to a defensive tackle, to that defensive tackle’s aunt, and anybody with human hands.

Trade! Vikings Pull the Trigger at QB
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings were never going to find a pristine QB1 waiting in the marketplace when Cousins was lost for the season. The closest option was Carson Wentz, and nobody at all wanted him.

Minnesota needs one man to throw leather balls in the vicinity of Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson. Interwoven with assured mayhem, Mullens does that, and Dobbs did not.

Mullens is the ideal life-without-Cousins option at the moment. This is the way. He’s Kirk Cousins’ kid brother on a sugar high.

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