The Vikings’ QB Shuffling Has Officially Begun, but More Appears on the Horizon
Sean Mannion’s services were no longer needed.
The veteran climbed as high as QB2 in his Minnesota reunion, but that was during a different set of circumstances. The Vikings’ QB room is looking very different. With Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall returning to health, Mannion became expendable.
The team officially released him from the practice squad, a move that was necessitated by Justin Jefferson reclaiming a spot on the 53-man roster and thus needing somewhere to put N’Keal Harry (who has since been signed to the practice squad).
The quarterback hierarchy is moving forward with a cluster of Josh Dobbs, Nick Mullens, and Jaren Hall. Somewhere within that trio will be the QB1 for the remainder of 2023. Or, perhaps, there are multiple men who will take the reins for Kevin O’Connell’s offense.
Very few are discussing the reality, but Dobbs has played poor football for ten-straight quarters. His second half against the Saints in Week 10 was bad enough to let New Orleans make the 27-3 game very close by the end. As if to foreshadow what was to come, Dobbs then put together a pair of clunkers in prime time in Week 11 and Week 12.
Mannion has already been exiled. Is there even more QB shuffling on the horizon?
The Vikings’ QB Shuffle Has Officially Begun
Recently, Dustin Baker has put forth an effort to capture the options available to Minnesota.
The Vikings Territory writer and editor assembled opinions from the various voices who keep content on the site (Exhibit A & Exhibit B). There’s quite a pronounced divide among contributors for who they would like to see at QB1. Similarly, there’s a pronounced divide among contributors for who they predict will become the QB1.
These are, after all, divisive times.
Even the heavyweight insiders are getting in on the fun. The Star Tribune‘s Ben Goessling seemingly pointed to Mullens whereas The Athletic‘s Dianna Russini seemingly pointed toward Dobbs (again, per a piece from Dustin Baker on VT).
For the record, I’m of the opinion that Mullens will get the start and should get the start. Again, the Vikings have been moving through ten-straight quarters of bad football from Dobbs. When the sample size is so small — less than four games total — ten quarters means an awful lot.
The danger with inserting Mullens is things could get fairly chaotic if he struggles. Picture a world where Mullens is horrendous. The Vikings’ playoff hopes are in the process of decreasing as the NFC heats up while Minnesota cools off. Kevin O’Connell, feeling pressure to salvage the season, decides to give Mullens a spot on the bench.
In that scenario, is the play to flip things over to Dobbs or to Hall? How would it appear if the head coach who used to be a QB got the decision wrong coming out of the bye? How would the team respond to seeing the game’s important position so uncertain?
A cleaner decision may be to let things go with Dobbs. If he struggles, then it’s just a single decision moving into the next best option: Mr. Mullens.
Of course, all of these hypotheticals don’t matter too much if the team’s coaching staff has a firm opinion about who gives them the best chance of winning. At long last, the pass catchers are operating at 100%. Putting Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson onto the field is a boon for O’Connell’s crew. The QB need not lift mountains; instead, the goal is simply to distribute the football in a clean, efficient manner. Let the elite talent do the rest.
At 6-6 and in the #6 spot in the NFC, the Vikings have full control of their playoff push. Win every game and the playoffs are a guaranteed reality. Nailing the QB decision thus comes with both the burden and hope of propelling the 2023 Vikings into the final tournament.
Minnesota’s next game arrives on Sunday, December 10th in Las Vegas.
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K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.