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

Jaren Hall
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s going to be the Minnesota Vikings quarterback this week? That’s not a question any football fan should find themselves asking often, but welcome to the life of a Vikings fan in 2023-24, where four different QBs have seen time under center.

And head coach Kevin O’Connell announced on Thursday that, in week 17 on Sunday Night Football vs the Green Bay Packers, it’s Jaren Hall’s turn to take another shot at the job.

Kevin O’Connell had no choice but to turn to Jaren Hall at QB

Why Hall? Ultimately, the Vikings don’t have a choice. Dobbs provided a spark but we’ve already seen his limitations throwing the football and going through reads, neither of which make a Kevin O’Connell offense look very good.

Related: Russell Wilson as Next Vikings Quarterback…?

And Mullens, on the other hand, can’t stop throwing the football to the wrong team; something frowned upon in the NFL, believe it or not.

Consider this: Mullens leads the NFL with the highest interception rate among all QBs who have attempted 25 or more passes this season, which isn’t exactly the category you want to lead the NFL in.

How bad is it? Mullens has thrown an interception on 7.3% of his pass attempts this season. Compare that to Cousins (1.6%) or Dobbs (3.3%), and it’s easy to see that the Vikings really had no choice but to try something different, yet again.

Hall’s first run as starter was short lived

If you tuned out a bit early in week 8 vs the Packers and tuned in a bit late to week 9 vs the Atlanta Falcons, it’s very possible you’ve missed Hall’s time under center for the Vikings this season. It’s easy to forget that he was actually the first Vikings backup QB tasked with replacing Kirk Cousins, following #8’s season-ending Achilles injury.

The rookie 5th rounder out of BYU QB’d the Vikings for a few drives late in that game vs Green Bay and got the start vs Atlanta. And guess what… he looked pretty damn good.

But Hall’s time in the purple and gold captain’s chair didn’t last long. Just two drives into that first start vs Falcons, Hall left the game with a concussion. So, this is his first opportunity in two months back under center.

How we got [back] here

Since Jaren Hall exited that contest, Vikings fans have ridden quite the QB rollercoaster. We saw the ‘Passtronaut’ Joshua Dobbs blast off into stardom… just to fall back down to earth as quickly as he took off.

In week 12 vs the Bears, Dobbs threw 4 interceptions and the Vikings lost 12-10. After taking the bye week to evaluate the QB position, coach Kevin O’Connell wanted to give the Passtronaut a chance to learn from and overcome his mistakes.

That plan backfired in Las Vegas the week after their bye. Dobbs couldn’t move the offense, finishing with only 63 yards passing and a completion rate of just 43%.

With the score still 0-0 in the 4th quarter, KOC went to veteran journeyman gunslinger Nick Mullens who ended up throwing for 83 yards in three drives and managed to push the Vikings into field goal range for the Greg Joseph dagger that carried them to an ugly 3-0 victory.

After playing hero in Vegas, the starting QB job was Mullens’ to lose. With the Southern Miss alum under center, Minnesota’s offense actually returned to something resembling a high-powered passing attack.

Related: Minnesota Vikings Playoff Odds – Week 17

But quickly, we realized that Nick Mullens is a Brett Favre (same college) without the talent, which became apparent when he started firing interceptions whenever he got an opportunity. Four interceptions and a loss vs the Detroit Lions in week 16, and suddenly, we are back full circle to Jaren Hall.

Great opportunity for Jaren Hall

This time around, Hall will get a chance to play with Minnesota’s top weapon, Justin Jefferson, who has already expressed confidence in the fifth-round rookie.

“I feel like Jaren is definitely a great quarterback. He has definitely some potential to spark this offense up if we put him out there to play. But we’ll have confidence in whoever.”

Justin Jefferson on Jaren Hall

Now, the only question is, can an extremely inexperienced QB like Hall look like a more polished pro than his veteran peers? There will be over 70,000 passionate football fans packed into U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday who can’t wait to find out.

But no matter if he sinks or swims, KOC made the only correct choice this weekend at starting quarterback.

Related: Russell Wilson as Next Vikings Quarterback…?

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