SEATTLE — The love Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall have for playing quarterback runs deep.
It's evident in the energy they bring to the field and the inflections of their voices when they speak about playing football.
Each hit the field for a half Thursday night in Seattle in a 24-13 Seahawks win over the Vikings.
Mullens' prior experience — 17 starts with San Francisco and Cleveland, plus appearing in four games for Minnesota in 2022 — helped position him for a nice first half in which he completed 14 of 20 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 106.0.
"It's fun, first of all, just being able to command an offense and step in the huddle with the guys. You know, you practice for however long you've been practicing at camp," Mullens said. "To be able to finally take the field and feel that energy, feel it in the huddle, it's awesome. It's a blessing just to put the uniform on again with your teammates.
"You work so hard and prepare and just leave it out on the field," he added. "I think we did a good job of that tonight. But it's all about just keep getting better. We have a big week coming up, and how can you just do it over and over and over? That's what makes a true pro and a productive offense."
Hall's NFL debut was a bit of a scramble drill on multiple plays where he had to elude pressure, but he didn't force bad decisions with the football. Sure, the stat line — 6-of-14 passing for 37 yards and a passer rating of 50.3 — wasn't what he probably envisioned, but it will be a night he'll always remember. It also provided golden learning opportunities about the demands of a QB in this system, relaying calls and getting players to the line quickly.
"I think you've got to actually be in the huddle. You've got to call out the play and look guys in the eyes, make sure you answer questions if they have any," Hall said. "In college, it's just get your signal on the sideline, say a word, and you're going fast, so for me at least, it's just getting comfortable with being in the huddle, commanding the huddle, putting confidence in all your guys that the play you're calling is the best play you can have. I think that's where it all starts."
Hall said he wants to clean up a few operational things that can allow the group to function faster between plays and allow him more time to assess protections at the line of scrimmage.
"No doubt, especially in this league, I'm learning so quickly the importance of that, make sure you have your turns to the right way and have your back ready to go," Hall said. "It's super important to get everybody out that you can in your schemes and make sure you're picking up all the pressures that come."
View game action photos from he Vikings vs. Seahawks preseason Week 1 game at Lumen Field.
Hall was able to have good dialogue with Mullens and Kirk Cousins, as well as conduct helpful video reviews of plays. He described the takeaways from those sessions.
"You've got to control what you can. You can't let one play affect another, see the defense for what they've given you, learn from each rep what they're doing and understand on each play what you're trying to attack," Hall said. "Going through progressions, that's something I can clean up and do a little better, go from 1 to 2 to 3. It was good to have them on the sideline every time coming off the field."
Mullens was able to work through his progressions on a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Nick Muse. The play has an opportunity for him to make a throw to the flat or the one he made, depending on what he reads from the cornerback. Mullens noted the cornerback's body language was inconclusive. He opted to give Muse a chance on the high pass.
"Muse did a great job of making a play on the ball," Mullens said. "He's had a great camp, and he just keeps showing up. He's got a great attitude, he works really hard, and he can do a lot of things well. For him to get that touchdown catch was huge. For him, for the offense and for the team. Especially when you've got long drives. Long drives with no touchdowns, it's not productive. So anytime you can finish a drive like that, it's very important. And now we just continue to strive to be able to do that consistently."
Muse was the fifth different teammate to catch a pass during that scoring drive, a run that included a 22-yard completion to first-round pick Jordan Addison, who adjusted to the football and secured the catch.
"That's something that I take pride in. We have a really good group all across the board. All the guys. Like you said, we spread it around," Mullens said. "Brandon Powell made plays, Jalen Reagor, Jordan Addison. I told him I owe him something. I don't know what I owe him, but I would have liked to have made that throw and let him catch and run and he would have his first rookie highlight, I guess. But I left that throw short. So yeah, that was great. Just complementary offense across the board is what we're all striving for."
Mullens' stat line could have been even higher, but officials ruled Addison out of bounds before securing the catch. Replay showed Addison dragged both feet with the football in his possession.
"The defender was tight. I just tried to lead the ball outside," Mullens said. "I'll have to look at it on film. I think it was a little wide. I'd like to make it easier for him so he can get in-bounds and keep the drive going.
"I was hoping he was in. You're kind of waiting for a call, waiting to see," he added. "They moved the ball so, 'Oh, I guess it was incomplete.' But yeah, even though it was out of bounds, it shows his ability to break right and left, different ways. His cuts were very established, and that's something that he can trust. He's proven through camp he's a friendly target, for sure."
Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said he thought Mullens played well and managed the game well.
"The challenge is for him – and really a lot of quarterbacks when they get their opportunities – is not trying to do too much. I thought he just continued to execute play after play. And really made some things right for us," O'Connell said. "Even in some instances, telling some guys who just recently arrived here what to do, how to line up. He had his plate full tonight and handled it really well, which is what I expected. Nick's had a great camp and continues to grow every single day and [is] really gaining the confidence of our team. If something were to happen to Kirk, you know, the guys have a lot of confidence in Nick."
O'Connell noted Hall didn't face "the easiest of circumstances" and that the team could have done some things to help him.
"But what did flash to me was his athleticism. Conflict resolution. There was plenty of it, and he was able to kind of – at least, sometimes not extend plays for big gains but sack-saving plays," O'Connell said. "Getting out, spinning out when we missed a couple protection assignments. The big key there is, when you're in those situations, can you find a way to not make a bad play worse? I speak from direct experience on that. I was proud to see him do that, and we'll continue to just get the operation a little cleaner with those 3s and 4s in there – and that's on us as coaches to do. I think we'll see a progression throughout the next two weeks because those guys are going to get a lot of reps."
View pregame photos of the Vikings ahead of their preseason Week 1 game vs. the Seahawks at Lumen Field.
Mullens said the conversations with Hall and Cousins made him think back to making his NFL debut.
"It's like, 'Holy cow.' So it's cool to watch. And then you obviously try to help where you can, just little nuggets here and there," Mullens said. "Jaren's done a great job since he's been here just learning, studying and producing, so we're here to help Jaren. Our whole room works together, so it's fun. And we'll continue to keep working and continue to take advantage of opportunities."