Once Kirk Cousins tested positive for COVID-19, he was immediately ruled out of Sunday night’s primetime NFC North showdown against the Green Bay Packers. At the time, backup quarterback Sean Mannion was also on the COVID reserve list. This led many to suggest Mike Zimmer would have third-round rookie Kellen Mond under center for the first start of his NFL career.
Not so fast. The same day Cousins went on the reserve list, Mannion was eligible to come off of it. Apparently, Zimmer and the team knew Mannion would be coming back, making him eligible to play, as he alluded to.
Knowing Mannion would be available, Zimmer never gave much thought to starting Mond instead.
Not starting Kellen Mond doesn’t make much sense
Why did the Minnesota Vikings draft Kellen Mond? At some point, they need to know what they have. While one start won’t reveal much about a prospect’s chances to succeed, it offers a glimpse of their abilities.
Right now, other than practice and preseason play, the Vikings haven’t been able to properly evaluate Mond.
There’s no need to rush Mond on the field if he’s not ready, yet we already have a good idea of who Sean Mannion is. Mannion won’t go out and win the game with his arm, but Mond at least has an outside chance to make off-schedule throws, keeping defenses on their toes.
Not to mention the added bonus that comes from seeing how the young talent is acclimating himself at the NFL. The last thing any Vikings fan wants to see is Sean Mannion under center against the Packers. He may be a great clipboard holder, but Mond offers the higher long-term upside.
Why Mike Zimmer starting Sean Mannion shouldn’t surprise anyone
Sean Mannion has been the team’s backup quarterback all season. Naturally, when the starter on your depth chart goes down, the No. 2 option steps in. Teams don’t suddenly rush a player onto the field, just because he may be younger than who’s ahead of him on the depth chart.
By all accounts, Mannion has earned the right to be the team’s top backup QB. He’s a smart player who studies hard and knows the offense well from operating it each of the past two seasons. Ignoring his effort wouldn’t be sending a good message to Kellen Mond or the rest of the team.
How would the locker room feel about Mond, a first-year player being thrown to the pack of wolves, when they’ve seen Mannion bust his tail for the past two years? It would be a bad look for Mike Zimmer. Even if Mond is far more talented than Mannion, he’s had much less time to prepare. And besides, if Mond was already much better than Mannion, there’s a good chance he would already have earned the No. 2 role.