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Monday Morning Mailbag: Backup QB A Hot Topic Ahead of Roster Cuts

Do you have a commentor question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday we'll post several comments and/or questions as part of the Monday Morning Mailbag. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

Click here to submit a comment or question to the Mailbag. Remember to include your name and town on the email. If Twitter is your jam, you can send a question to me that way as well.

Why not have each backup play a whole game since this is preseason? [Sean] Mannion looked better than [Kellen] Mond. Sign a veteran QB as a backup to [Kirk] Cousins now. Get rid of Mond.

— Gregory Clater

This one came through last Monday as the Vikings were acquiring Nick Mullens and before the Vikings switched their approach in the third preseason game.

Rather than alternate between Mannion (preseason Week 1 starter) and Mond (preseason Week 2 starter) within halves, the Vikings gave Mannion the entire first half and Mond the entire second half.

It seemed like both QBs were able to establish a bit more rhythm as their time in the game progressed, but the offense still had some misfires (protection issues and drops) that didn't help either QB.

I think a variety of looks in varied situations (different points in the game and different teammates) is helpful in evaluating QBs.

I know Mannion is a vet, but he has zero mobility. It's sad to me Mond has not consistently done better with the playmakers and coaches he has had, so to me his issues are mental.

Given we just traded for Mullens and the lackluster offense the first two games, would you be surprised if [O'Connell] starts Mullens against Denver?

I was at the Vegas game, and he looks like a starter in my opinion.

Take care

— John Raiano

I live in Texas, so I rarely get to see our guys play live. [Saturday] was the first preseason action I got to watch, and I just don't understand something. Why is Sean Mannion on the team? He's really bad at playing football. On top of that, he seemed to have a bad attitude about it. His shoulders were slumped and head hung low every time I saw him between plays. I've heard everything about how Kirk Cousins values him in the meeting room and I get that, but he's just awful on the field. I understand Mond hasn't progressed enough to trust as the backup either, so why haven't we looked for someone better (No, not Nick Mullens.)? I look at someone like Josh Rosen, who has some special abilities but started his career in a bad program, then went to a worse one. Who else would you think of that has that special play ability, but maybe is not valued by teams because of early failures in his career that maybe O'Connell and his staff could coach up to be ready to take over for Cousins when he becomes too expensive to keep next year?

— Nic from St. Francis (but dying in the Texas heat)

Just heard about the trade? Do you think Mond will be cut and then attempt to put him on practice squad, or do you think he will be just released? Mannion definitely gone. Mullens definitely an upgrade at position.

— John Heil

Combining these three questions …

Nic, it was awesome that the placement of the Vikings-Broncos on NFL Network boosted the coverage area of the game beyond the teams' home marketing areas, but I'd be a little cautious about trying to read too much body language from the broadcast.

John R. is correct that Mannion will never be confused with a highly mobile quarterback, but I'll push back against the "mental" label for hurdles Mond has faced this preseason.

The Vikings offensive system and terminology changed in his second pro season. Protection was a bit shaky, especially late in the game, and skills players have had multiple drops.

What I did see Saturday was Sean secure the football through first contact but lose it on second contact. Denver executed a nice combination attack on Minnesota's left side of the offensive line to beat the combination of Timon Parris at left tackle and Blake Brandel at left guard.

Mannion came right back out and made a couple of the best throws he's made all preseason in leading Minnesota 47 yards in 48 seconds for a field goal by Greg Joseph.

I think if Nic had been able to see Mullens play against the Vikings in Las Vegas, he would have liked what he saw, similar to the way John H. is seeing it.

The connections to Mullens include past overlaps with Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in San Francisco and Cleveland. O'Connell knows Raiders Head Coach Josh McDaniels quite well, as well.

There'd be quite a few variables to isolate in assessing Mullens and Rosen so far, but Mullens has one more career start than the former first-round pick, and his career passer rating of 87.3 is 26.2 points higher than Rosen's.

Rosen signed with Cleveland in July, by the way.

I personally was not surprised that Mullens did not play, even though Minnesota dressed him as an emergency QB. O'Connell said Mullens probably could have handled playing, but he already had plenty of preseason snaps with the Raiders.

View photos from the Vikings-Broncos 2022 preseason game at Empower Field at Mile High.

The Vikings like Mullens and traded to get him. The likelihood of their view of him changing based on a handful of preseason snaps is low.

It remains to be seen what Minnesota will do at the position during roster reductions.

Will the team keep two or three quarterbacks?

If three, what are the most-desired traits/abilities in the players kept?

Anyone cut/released will become a free agent and able to sign with another team. If no offers exist for a team's 53-man roster, then players can sign to a practice squad.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 14, 2023.

I always have concern about defenses and the Vikings defense. We have a great offense, but if they can't hold the other offense, we still lose. So I was wondering about the decision not to keep Anthony Barr, with Jordan Hicks. It would seem to me that Anthony would be an awesome backup for EK and Jordan. So why didn't he stay? Was it his injuries? I hate to see him play for the Cowboys!

— Gill M. Sorg in Las Cruces

Appreciate the question here about Anthony Barr and glad to see fans still caring about him. I think the first answer is Minnesota's defense changed its base defense from a 4-3 in which Barr usually played strong linebacker to a 3-4. Kendricks and Hicks were two of the NFL's top 10 leading tacklers last season and have tremendous experience in the middle. Beyond their proven prowess at tackling, both have shown great range in coverage and instinctive play. I'm not saying Barr doesn't make instinctive plays or tackle well, but he's at his best when he's going forward and able to use his smarts and power.

Rookie Brian Asamoah II showed a great bit of grit on Saturday in Denver. He had a spot on the team, but because the Vikings were so shorthanded at inside linebacker, Asamoah persevered after getting his ankle rolled on early in the game.

On the edge, the Vikings brought in Za'Darius Smith, who is well-versed with a considerable amount of this defense, to partner with Danielle Hunter. Barr possibly would have been a more likely outside linebacker than inside linebacker in Minnesota's defense. It's hard to keep everyone and operate under the salary cap.

Barr is someone I'll always root for personally. You can, too, even if you don't want the Cowboys to have team success.

During the first two preseason games I kept seeing No. 68 at left guard. He played a lot of snaps and looked really good. How come no one is talking about Kyle Hinton?

— Lonnie in Phoenix

We've gotten a few questions about Hinton over the past several months, and this one came through before Minnesota's preseason finale at Denver in which Hinton played 44 offensive snaps at right guard.

Hinton played a team-high 43 offensive snaps at Las Vegas and all 52 offensive snaps against San Francisco.

The 2020 seventh-round pick and his draft classmates missed the offseason program and preseason as rookies because of COVID-19.

The Vikings appear set at left guard with Ezra Cleveland prepping for his second season at the position.

Minnesota also used another second-round pick this year to draft Ed Ingram, who has been working his way up with the first team at right guard. Beyond that, the Vikings signed veteran interior offensive linemen Jesse Davis, Chris Reed and Austin Schlottmann.

Besides Ingram, Davis has done the most work with the first team. Reed suffered an elbow injury but was able to play Saturday. Schlottmann started in place of Garrett Bradbury in the final two preseason games.

Ingram did not play Saturday at Denver when Minnesota rested starters at left tackle, left guard, center and right tackle.

We anticipate having an updated — albeit unofficial — depth chart this week.

Back to Hinton, one of my favorite sights I saw during training camp (and after the Vikings-49ers game) was his dad wearing a crocheted Vikings hat and yellow beard.

O'Connell has said he feels strong about the depth the Vikings have been able to build on the offensive line. We'll see whether Hinton makes the 53 or possibly is on the Vikings practice squad.

The cut from 80 to 53 is scheduled for Tuesday. Practice squads can be established Wednesday.

I think it's time for everyone to step back and take a chill pill. This is the preseason, and coaches only have three games to evaluate players in game situations. Also, coaches aren't using their full complement of offensive and defensive plays, so it's hard to know how good this team will be (and I'm sure there will be growing pains learning new systems on both sides of the ball). I have to admit that I get caught up in how the team plays and want to see W's on the board, too, but the fact is that preseason games are for getting the team ready for the regular season and in a position to make a playoff run, which is more important. Of course we all want to see a backup quarterback who can carry the team through a rough patch if Cousins gets injured, etc., and I'm sure the coaches/GM will address it as they see is best for the team.

— Mark in Idaho

Mark sums it up really well. If the Vikings had gone 3-0 in the preseason, they'd be 0-0 heading into Week 1, which is also what their record will be after going 0-3.

O'Connell has been intentional with multiple decisions in his first year as a head coach with the prevailing goal of being as healthy as possible for Week 1.

That meant keeping more than 30 players from playing Saturday against the Vikings.

O'Connell, his staff and players were able to work through multiple procedures during the games, which is quite beneficial.

They've also had the benefit of a high volume of reps for starters in practices, including the joint sessions against San Francisco.

Those reps have all been filmed and reviewed as part of the assessment of players and as teaching tools.

View photos of Vikings players showing off their travel day fits as they head to Denver for a 2022 preseason matchup against the Broncos.

The limited play of starters is unacceptable. Don't say a word after the first regular-season game that they need more time to get their timing down!!! The ultra-conservative plays on offense and defense will continue to keep these Super Bowl-caliber players at .500 again for the 2022 season. The ownership must be blind to think that playing not to lose will provide income in the future. You can't practice at blitzing and motion plays and screens and expect it to work during the regular season.

Wake up!!!

Viking since 1972.

— Norske Warrior

Is what we're seeing in the preseason a very simple version of the Vikings actual offense? I'm underwhelmed so far and hoping for more from our first offensive head coach in a while!

— Max Olsen

It's a philosophical approach by O'Connell to try to keep as much of the roster as healthy as possible for Week 1.

The Vikings had several players leave Saturday's game because of injuries, including receiver Bisi Johnson, whom O'Connell said deserves a spot on the 53. O'Connell and all of us are hoping for the best for Johnson.

Another clearly visible approach in philosophy has been to be quite bland on offense and defense. Minnesota didn't scheme the way it will during the regular season and was cautious to avoid putting much of anything on tape that Green Bay's coaches might find useful in building their game plan.

Given the fact it's a home game against the Packers, O'Connell is completely right to do whatever he thinks gives Minnesota the best chance of winning that one out of the gate.

View photos of the Vikings 2022 coaching staff.

I was curious if the players and/or coaches have had any discussions on providing the social justice message as a team, as one? Have the same message on everyone's helmet, so it's done as a team? Perhaps a different message each week, but again as a team? I noticed in [Saturday] night's game the Broncos all had the same thing … Broncos. They did that as a team. Either they voted on it or it came from leadership, but they did it as a team. I'd like to see the Vikings do something as a team. Either a different message each week or a social message periodically mixed in with Vikings. I'll leave that up to the players and coaches, but it's my opinion doing something as a team shows unity and commitment. Teamwork makes the dream work!

— J.B. Brunet

I'm not in team meetings or personal conversations between the Vikings coaching staff and players. I also don't know anything on the Broncos decision.

What I do know is that Vikings players were offered the option of selecting from the following seven different decals to place on the bumpers of their helmets:

It Takes All of Us

Inspire Change

Say Their Stories

Stop Hate

Black Lives Matter

End Racism

Choose Love

Or, they could keep Vikings on their helmet bumpers.

View photos of the Vikings 2022 schedule at U.S. Bank Stadium and on the road.

While I get J.B.'s point about a singular message, I also think giving players options and allowing them to respect teammates' decisions can be a teambuilding exercise as well. Valuing a wide array of perspectives — NFL locker rooms are tremendous melting pots that gather folks from varied backgrounds — while working toward team goals could also promote a type of unity.

O'Connell has emphasized building a highly connected roster across position groups and phases (offense, defense and special teams), and I believe that will apply on the field and off it.