Jaren Hall Has One Big Shot
Cue the 8 Mile soundtrack because Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback Jaren Hall has one shot.
The team’s head coach, Kevin O’Connell, named Hall the Week 9 starter on Tuesday, just two days after QB1 Kirk Cousins tore his Achilles tendon at Lambeau Field.
Jaren Hall Has One Big Shot
The Vikings scooped Hall from the draft’s 5th Round six months ago, and most believed he’d serve as QB3 throughout 2023. Well, that theory was false.
Cousins is out for the remainder of the season, and QB2 Nick Mullens hurt his back three weeks ago, so he cannot return until Week 10 at the earliest — meaning Hall’s time has arrived. Minnesota also swung a trade for Arizona Cardinals passer Joshua Dobbs, an actual rocket scientist, on Tuesday.
But in the here and now, Hall is on tap to start at the Atlanta Falcons this weekend, and while his career won’t be over if he flounders, he has one pivotal moment to seize the job and not relinquish it for the rest of 2023.
Late-round quarterbacks like Hall are traditionally a total crapshoot, generally falling on the ash heap of history for those hoping they’d turn out as startable QB1s. But with examples like Tom Brady, Brock Purdy, Tony Romo, and Kurt Warner from the last 25 years, fans always think their guy could be next.
Hall is the Vikings guy in that vein, until he proves otherwise.
Because Cousins’ Achilles tendon tear occurred in the middle of 2023, he isn’t coming back. He has no Aaron Rodgers-like path to be back in time for a theoretical postseason push. His backup, Nick Mullens, could be ready in the next couple of weeks. And then Joshua Dobbs’ highlight reel from eight starts in Arizona is quite fabulous.
Minnesota will have no problem whatsoever handing the baton to Mullens or Dobbs if Hall plays terribly on Sunday. For Hall’s sake, he must merely appear competent, confident, and quasi-productive. The Falcons game is a one-stop-shop audition to prove he’ll grow as the season progresses.
His hurdle? Avoiding a performance like Josh Freeman in 2013 or Kellen Mond from any preseason game. Looking lost will find him a seat on the bench in Week 10 at home versus the New Orleans Saints, mainly because the Vikings believe they can win games with a hot Brian Flores defense, upper-echelon offensive line, and weak NFC wildcard playoff field.
This is the young man’s one big shot, featuring a relatively low bar to surmount. A statline like 19 for 30, 2 touchdowns, and an interception will probably earn the man a sequel in Week 10. A Vikings win would assuredly help.
Hall basically can’t look like a nincompoop.
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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).