Vikings name Nick Mullens the starting QB for Saturday at Bengals

Nick Mullens #12 of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on December 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  ((Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images))

The Minnesota Vikings face the Cincinnati Bengals Saturday afternoon, and Nick Mullens will get his first start of the season at quarterback.

Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell made that official on Tuesday after the team held a short walk-through at TCO Performance Center. O’Connell pulled Joshua Dobbs with about 9:10 to play in Minnesota’s 3-0 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in favor of Mullens. In nine offensive series with Dobbs, the Vikings punted eight times and Greg Joseph missed a field goal. Dobbs finished 10-of-23 passing for just 63 yards, and was sacked five times.

Mullens finished 9-of-13 for 98 yards, and led the Vikings on their only scoring drive of the day. It was enough to leave Las Vegas with a win and 7-6 record. They’re in the No. 6 spot in the NFC and can still catch the Detroit Lions for the lead in the NFC North Division.

"For how he came into the game the other day and demonstrated his ability to prepare and be ready to come in and play in rhythm, was accurate with the ball and made great decisions. Where we are as an offense right now, it’s about our execution with all 11 guys and Nick’s comfort in our system," O'Connell said. "I do believe Nick Mullens gives us the best chance to win the football game this Saturday, and that’s the decision we made."

Mullens is 5-12 in his career as a starting quarterback. His last start came in Week 15 in 2021 with the Cleveland Browns, a 16-14 loss to the Raiders. He has not started a game with the Vikings in two seasons, but in five games, is 30-of-38 for 307 yards and one touchdown. He had been the back-up to Kirk Cousins this season before missing five games with a back injury, but he's healthy now. 

He'll be the team's fourth starting quarterback this season. Kirk Cousins went down with a torn right Achilles at Green Bay, and Jaren Hall got the start the next week at Atlanta. Hall left that game in the first quarter with a concussion, and Dobbs replaced him five days after being traded to Minnesota. 

O'Connell did not say whether Dobbs or Jaren Hall will be the back-up behind Mullens. The Vikings can dress three quarterbacks on game days, with an emergency quarterback not counting towards the active roster.