Why Vikings Fans Will Warm Up to Nick Mullens

HC Makes It Official
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

Hardly anybody wanted him.

That was the sentiment by Minnesota Vikings fans for Nick Mullens last week while the team was deciding which quarterback to start at the Las Vegas Raiders.

Why Vikings Fans Will Warm Up to Nick Mullens

Folks were evidently mesmerized by the unknown rookie upside belonging to Jaren Hall, and the Vikings’ coaching staff ultimately settled on Joshua Dobbs. With the benefit of hindsight, Dobbs was the wrong choice, as Mullens was inserted into the lineup in the 4th Quarter and guided the purple team to a memorable but dogged 3-0 win.

Warm Up to Nick
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Mullens will likely get the QB1 call in Week 15 at the Cincinnati Bengals, barring a strange reversal to Dobbs. The good part? The team’s faithful will warm up to Mullens for one reason: his style is what they know.

On any given Sunday, Mullens is about a 70% version of Kirk Cousins. Meanwhile, with the Vikings’ defense playing at its current level, 70% Cousins might be enough to lead a frisky team into the postseason.

Vikings Defense,
Per EPA/Play,

Weeks 1-3 = 26th
Weeks 4-14 = 1st

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Mullens won’t morph into a QB1 for the long haul — folks thought that might happen with Dobbs, but the theory died — but he is one of the NFL’s best QB2s. Plain and simple. Owning a mini-gunslinger mentality, Mullens chills in the pocket and unleashes ropes like Cousins.

Don’t expect him to use his legs like Dobbs. It ain’t happening. In 17 career starts, Mullens has -3 rushing yards. He doesn’t move, and per the Vikings’ current playbook, scripted for Cousins, that might be passable amid the season’s remainder.

Vikings Fill Quarterback Opening With an Old Friend
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Head coach Kevin O’Connell said about Mullens after running the 2023 record to 7-6, “I felt like my trust in Nick, with his preparation, could be called upon. He had some reps last week to make sure that he was ready to go, and he did exactly that. He went in and made some critical plays to move the chains and ultimately get us in range for the very limited amount of points that we got today offensively, but enough to win the football game.”

Mullens will throw some interceptions — that’s what gunslingers do — and won’t be as surgical as Cousins most of the time.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

But he will feed wide receivers and tight ends, which is why Dobbs is probably heading back to the bench. Mullens is an honest-to-goodness pocket passer, and Vikings fans have watched this type of offense since 2018.

Mullens is the internet joke and meme: A Wish.com Kirk Cousins. And with Minnesota now possessing a Top 5 NFL defense, diet Kirk might do the trick.

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 OverTheCap.com.