No Starting QB Named for Vikings Monday — Only One Good Theory

Shy about Trading
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Entering the bye two weeks ago, the Minnesota Vikings had a quarterback debate, deciding between Joshua Dobbs, Nick Mullens, and Jaren Hall at the game’s most important position.

Exiting the week off, head coach Kevin O’Connell settled on the incumbent, Dobbs, and the club headed to Las Vegas for a date with the Raiders.

No Starting QB Named for Vikings Monday — Only One Good Theory

In theory, Dobbs was a decent choice, but with hindsight in full force, Mullens won out. Dobbs was benched late in Week 14 as Mullens took over and led Minnesota to a 3-0 road victory. Yes, one of those.

No Starting QB Named
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

And because a quarterback was benched midgame, another quarterback debate felt impending. Then on Monday, the Vikings stayed noncommittal about the QB1 for Saturday’s matchup in Cincinnati.

Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling tweeted Monday, “Kevin O’Connell said the Vikings are still in the process of determining a starting QB for the Bengals game. They’ll make a decision later this week […] Since the Vikings got back late last night, O’Connell said he wants to evaluate the film more completely and talk with w/staff Doesn’t mean it won’t be Nick Mullens on Saturday; could just mean the Vikings need time to communicate QB decision internally before they announce it.”

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The takeaway? Indeed, O’Connell wouldn’t formally name the starter, but that’s likely out of respect to Dobbs, who might deserve personal notification of the demotion.

All signs point to Mullens against the Bengals, and in fact, it would be a little odd to reverse course and re-nominate Dobbs.

O’Connell said about Mullens after he helped Minnesota survive Las Vegas, “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.”

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

That sounds like the praise bestowed on a starting quarterback as Minnesota continues to navigate life with Kirk Cousins, who was injured at the end of October. Cousins tore his Achilles and won’t return in 2023. The 35-year-old is scheduled for free agency in three months.

Mullens makes the most sense for the Vikings here and now, a pocket passer who is basically a Cousins clone with a bit less accuracy and more tendency toward interceptions. No one on the roster can replace Cousins, but it would be Mullens if one man were tabbed stylistically.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) looks for a receiver at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023.

Dobbs quarterbacked the Vikings for nearly five games. Coming out of the bye, he probably deserved one more shot out of fairness and loyalty — granted by O’Connell. But he just couldn’t move the chains at Las Vegas, even if pass-catchers didn’t help much.

Mullens, on the other hand, did extend drives, especially on 3rd Down, and that’s probably why he’s a couple of days away from the QB1 baton.

The Bengals are favored by four to beat the Vikings.

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