HomeFootball DirtNick Mullens to Start for the Vikings in Week 16

Nick Mullens to Start for the Vikings in Week 16

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The Vikings’ playoff prospects took a hit on Saturday, but a quarterback change does not appear to be imminent. Minnesota is expected to stick with Nick Mullens as the starter under center, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports. Head coach Kevin O’Connell has since confirmed the news.

Mullens started in Week 15 against the Bengals after taking over from Josh Dobbs midway through the previous game. The move came as little surprise given the latter’s struggles after a surprisingly impressive first few contests in Minnesota, and the former’s status as Kirk Cousins‘ backup to begin the year. Mullens missed time due to a back injury which coincided with Cousins’ Achilles tear, but he is now in place to finish the campaign atop the depth chart.

“The biggest thing is Nick showed he can execute our offense and really move the football team,” O’Connell said, via Fowler’s colleague Kevin Seifert. “I think what we’ve got to continue to work through are those plays where we don’t try to do too much.”

O’Connell stopped short of naming Mullens the starter for the rest of the season, so a game-to-game approach will remain in place for the time being. The 28-year-old threw for 303 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 26-of-33 passing in the Vikings’ loss to the Bengals, but he also had a pair of interceptions. Mullens was stopped on a key fourth-and-one in overtime, which set up Cincinnati’s game-winning field goal. While there is room for improvement, Mullens will have the opportunity to rebound in Week 16.

The Vikings are set to play the Lions for the first of two meetings in the final three weeks of the season, and winning against the NFC North leaders will be critical to Minnesota’s playoff chances. The Vikings sit at 7-7 on the year, putting them in contention for a wild-card berth. With wideout Justin Jefferson back in the lineup, the team’s offense could deliver strong showings in the passing game with Mullens at the helm down the stretch.

The former UDFA is under contract through 2024, making his future much more certain than that of Cousins. The latter is set to hit free agency this offseason, though the Vikings are open to another new contract with the four-time Pro Bowler. Regardless of what happens on that front, Mullens could earn the No. 2 job moving forward (a spot rookie Jaren Hall will be competing for) with a strong showing in his temporary period as a starter.

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