What Can Vikings Fans Reasonably Expect from Jaren Hall vs Packers

Photo Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

The Jaren Hall era resumes on Sunday night when the Minnesota Vikings welcome the Green Bay Packers to U.S. Bank Stadium. It’s hard to imagine what’s going through Jaren’s head this morning, knowing the team has suddenly placed the weight of its season on his shoulders in one of the biggest non-playoff primetime games in recent franchise history.

Related: Minnesota Vikings name rookie Jaren Hall starting QB for Sunday night

It may not be Hall’s first NFL start, but the stakes tonight are on another level compared to his very brief time as Vikings starter in week 9 vs the Falcons. That day in Atlanta, head coach Kevin O’Connell had no choice but to start his 5th round rookie, out of BYU.

They did not have another QB on roster who knew the playbook. Kirk Cousins’ real backup, Nick Mullens, was hurt. And their only other healthy quarterback was Josh Dobbs, who had just been acquired via trade a few days earlier.

Different reality for Jaren Hall in week 17

Back then, Jaren Hall was only supposed to be on roster to learn and get better at practice. He was a late-round stab in the dark 2023 draft pick with some upside. He was the emergency practice squad QB for the team whos starter was Ironman Kirk Cousins, who never gets hurt, remember?

In week 9 of the 2023 season, the last thing the Vikings expected was Jaren Hall as their QB1. Is it hypothetically possible that, had Jaren played out of his mind vs the Falcons and in the games that followed, O’Connell would’ve been forced to promote him, at least for the remainder of this season? Sure, anything is possible.

jaren hall minnesota vikings green bay packers
Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

But in most realistic scenarios, Josh Dobbs was always going to get his chance at QB1. And even in a world where he doesn’t, Nick Mullens was eventually going to return from injury. No matter what had happened that day in Atlanta, Jaren Hall wasn’t going to have much of a chance to keep the starting job going forward.

On Sunday night, however, the 25-year-old Hall has a much different opportunity on his hands. Since Jaren left that contest in Atlanta, the Vikings have gone on a horrifyingly exciting roller-coaster ride without him.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell has already experimented with Josh Dobbs and Nick Mullens. Both have been subsequently eliminated from the equation. As long as Jaren makes the throws and reads any average NFL QB is expected to and doesn’t turn the ball over like a cheap Brett Favre, he will get another start next week.

Related: Why Kevin O’Connell Had No Choice but to Start Jaren Hall at QB

And if the rookie can lead Minnesota to two-straight wins in weeks 17 and 18, there’s a coin-flip chance he will be a playoff quarterback in the NFL. But let’s hit pause for one second. Is that something this fanbase should let themselves entertain? I mean, what can we really expect out of a 5th round rookie?

What can Minnesota Vikings fans expect out of Hall?

Well, if you had faith in Josh Dobbs and/or Nick Mullens, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t have that faith in Jaren Hall. Unlike Dobbs, he knows the playbook and proved in his two appearances earlier this season that he can go through reads and make requisite throws needed to move Kevin O’Connell’s offense.

Oh, you have turnover PTSD from Nick Mullens? I can’t blame you, nor can I guarantee Sunday’s rookie starter won’t fumble or throw any interceptions. But a quick look into Hall’s statistics at BYU will put your mind at ease.

Mullens has always been a ‘gunslinger’ type. He wants to be Brett Favre, he just doesn’t have the talent. In his college career at Southern Mississippi, Nick Mullens threw over one interception (46) for every two touchdowns (87).

In his two years as starter at BYU, Jaren Hall threw nearly five touchdowns (52) for every one (11) interception. In his final year at BYU, he threw for over 3100 yards, 31 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. This is why so many wanted a look at Hall, including O’Connell, instead of sticking with Nick Mullens or going back to Josh Dobbs.

Even though he is a 5th-round pick, he should still theoretically be better than Dobbs at finding open Vikings receivers and worse than Nick Mullens at finding open defenders.

Kevin O’Connell sure to test Hall’s arm

Another factor to keep in mind is Kevin O’Connell’s play calling. No matter who the QB is, KOC has proven that he is going to put the ball in the hands of his quarterback and let him win or lose them the game. He believes in his system and believes that, if you are an NFL caliber QB, you should be able to run it competently.

So I’m trying to keep my expectations down… but the more I think about the game tonight, the more I’m convinced it could be a Jaren Hall coming out party. The Green Bay secondary is worse than some of the secondaries Hall faced while at BYU, at this point, especially after they suspended Jaire Alexander and we know O’Connell is going to test out his arm like no other playcaller would their day-3 rookie quarterback.

So, if you expect that Hall will hit open receivers more often than not, and keep the ball out of the Green Bay’s hands better than Nick Mullens did… then 300 yards and 2 or 3 touchdowns seems pretty realistic to me. What New Years week that would make…

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