Vikings will start Nick Mullens at QB for finale vs. Lions

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings will start quarterback Nick Mullens in their final regular-season game, with their bid for the playoffs nearly exhausted by persistent problems at the vital position.

Coach Kevin O’Connell announced his decision before practice on Wednesday. The Vikings play at Detroit on Sunday, needing a win and three other NFC games to go their way to convert a postseason long shot.

“With all of the quarterback changes, everyone that stepped up into that position did a great job of handling that position, because it’s not an easy road. We have one of the most difficult offenses in the league,” wide receiver Justin Jefferson said, adding: “It’s even difficult for me just listening to the play call, and I’m only listening for one or two things.”

Mullens replaced rookie Jaren Hall after halftime in last week’s loss to Green Bay, after an interception and a fumble by Hall each set up a Packers touchdown. That was the fifth quarterback switch in nine games for the Vikings, starting with the torn Achilles tendon for Kirk Cousins that uprooted everything.

“They’re really important decisions,” O’Connell said. “You want to make sure you’re communicating. You want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to try to help the guys that we put in the game, but at the same time the decision is about what’s best for the team and trying to move the football and seeing if we can go out and have a quality performance on offense.”

Hall was the first sub for Cousins, but a concussion forced him out of his first start. Joshua Dobbs gave the Vikings a brief spark, but he threw four interceptions in a loss to Chicago on Nov. 27 and was pulled from a scoreless game in his next appearance. Mullens took it from there, but he was picked off four times by Detroit on Dec. 24. That prompted O’Connell to pick Hall for the crucial game against Green Bay.

“When we’re in that throw mode, he’s got to be a great decision-maker, trusting the other 10 guys to do their jobs at a really high level,” O’Connell said.

Vikings quarterbacks have accounted for 26 turnovers this season, tied for the most in the NFL. The recent struggles have laid bare the conundrum they face for the future, with Cousins set to become a free agent in the spring.

Jefferson, for one, has stumped often for Cousins, but the team’s ability to upgrade other positions would be significantly diminished by a new contract for their 35-year-old quarterback.

“I’m confident they’re going to make the right decision up there to bring whoever they need to bring in the building to throw us the ball each year,” Jefferson said. “If it’s Kirk, perfect. If it’s whoever they choose, that’s not my decision. I’m always going to just continue to be myself, regardless, and just play my best ball when I’m out there on the field.”


AP – 2024-01-03T23:47:45.409Z

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