Cutting 2020 seventh-round pick Nate Stanley before the start of training camp, the Vikings rolled with three quarterbacks the whole summer, affording Mannion and Mond more opportunities than a camp run with typically four quarterbacks.
But after weeks of reps and preseason action, neither Mannion nor Mond won the job outright. They were listed on the team’s unofficial depth chart as co-second-string quarterbacks — and neither seized the reigns of the QB2 role before the 53-man roster deadline.
And in his first press availability since cutdown day, head coach Kevin O’Connell did not mince his words when speaking on the recently released backups.
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Mond, Nor Mannion Could ‘Win the Job,’ O’Connell Says
In a September 1 press conference, O’Connell admitted that he had not promised anything to incumbent backups on the roster at the start of training camp, saying it was not a competition against each other, but a competition to win the QB2 spot.
“Yeah, it was not my assumption, and in fact, I told both those guys, ‘Just understand you guys are not just competing with one another.’ I had them both in my office at one point and told them that I want somebody to win the job, not just the competition between the other,” O’Connell said. “We were constantly evaluating it from a perspective of what gave us the best chance to win should that No. 2 quarterback be called into action, and then ultimately laying out a competition that hopefully allowed those guys to feel like in the end the fairness of it all was there, and the opportunity was there.”
O’Connell added that the difficult decision to cut the backups was made with the team’s best interest in mind as neither quarterback gave O’Connell the confidence to trust them to take over in relief of Cousins or execute a weekly game plan.
“Ultimately we had to make a very difficult decision that I know we did not take lightly, but I do feel like we did what was in the best interest of giving us the chance to win football games,” O’Connell said.
SKOR North’s Judd Zulgad read through the lines of O’Connell’s polite ousting of the two quarterbacks, saying O’Connell “tried his best to be kind but it was clear he felt putting Mond or Mannion into a game would have been unfair to them and the Vikings… That’s how teams think.”
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O’Connell Admits It Was Unfair to Pressure Mond at QB2
O’Connell offered Mond, who was claimed by the Cleveland Browns on August 31, plenty of praise even after saying the second-year quarterback did not meet his expectations for the QB2 spot — expectations O’Connell admitted were “unfair” to place upon the 23-year-old.
“I thought Kellen improved tremendously from the time we got him in the spring all the way through,” O’Connell said. “He’s got a heck of a football journey ahead of him. I’m a big fan of how hard he works. I’m a big fan of the human being and I think he’s got all the things you look for in an NFL quarterback. It’s just at the time for us, you know you can put a lot of pressure on a player if he’s not ready and, in my personal opinion, I still think Kellen’s got tremendous upside but to ask him to be that No. 2 quarterback, being a snap away on a team we feel very strongly about competing on, I didn’t think that was fair to Kellen.”