Nick Mullens Showed Experience Doesn’t Always Matter

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Detroit Lions Cam Sutton waves goodbye after intercepting a pass from Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024. © David Rodriguez Munoz / USA TODAY NETWORK.

On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings took the field for the final time this season against the Detroit Lions. Kevin O’Connell opted for the veteran backup Nick Mullens to start, and as he has almost every time this season, Mullens flopped. His assumed experience around the league was never apparent, and it was called out on Sunday.

Nick Mullens Showed Experience Doesn’t Always Matter

When the Vikings employed Kirk Cousins as their starting quarterback, they often felt good about the availability of a player who had rarely missed time. Having suffered through a Sean Mannion start, it was wildly apparent they needed to bring in someone capable of running the offense should their number be called.

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It seemed logical that Nick Mullens could be that guy when they acquired him from the Las Vegas Raiders last year, but he couldn’t help but look inept at every opportunity this season. Despite having appeared in 24 games before this season and being in the league since 2018, he looked as lost as you would expect a rookie when under center.

As the Vikings got behind and failed to make it much of a contest against the Detroit Lions, the broadcast made a comment that virtually summed up what we saw in his exposure. “You have to know when a play is over,” was the sentiment muttered after Mullens again tried to flip a football out as he was being thrown to the ground.

HC Makes It Official
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We repeatedly saw Mullens lack any sensible ability to understand how to protect the football. His desire to chuck it up for grabs down the field was one thing, largely reflective of a belief that he could put his teammates in position to make a play. The more problematic developments were attempts at avoiding sacks that led to near fumbles, interceptions, or his butt fumble-esque turnover.

There would never be an ideal scenario for the Vikings to move forward at the quarterback position after Cousins went down for the season. Regardless of Josh Dobbs’ initial heroics or O’Connell’s mismanagement of the position, the reality was the most important position in sports now left a massive hole for Minnesota. No one would have expected several backups to come in and hold serve. What needed to happen was veteran backups coming in, showing poise, and avoiding an onus about why games were lost. Mullens didn’t accomplish defeats on his own, but he continually aided those outcomes.

Ultimately, it’s a good thing that Mullens was able to find Justin Jefferson enough on Sunday. The superstar wide receiver accomplished his goal, and in an otherwise meaningless game, appeasing your superstar is more than a positive outcome to take home. As was wildly evident throughout the game, though, the wideout grew frustrated with a quarterback who should have known better and certainly didn’t have the chops to play consistently in this league.

Mullens showed experience
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Detroit employs a mediocre pass defense, and the Vikings’ fill-in quarterback put up an ugly 4/6 TD/INT ratio against them. The yardage totals might be something to marvel at had the games not already been in a situation where perfection was needed solely to draw even. Self-inflicted wounds were definitely what did him in.

Minnesota has no bigger question mark this offseason than what they will do at the quarterback position. Answering that question remains a must, and they probably need both a starter and a new backup. If the backup does have to play, though, don’t expect much simply because they have been around the block a time or two.


Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.

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