The Goal for Jaren Hall? Simple Excellence.

NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

In many ways, the Seattle game was one to forget for Jaren Hall.

He finished his first ever NFL action with a humdrum set of stats, completing 6 of 14 passes for a measly 37 yards. Hall didn’t pass for a touchdown and nor did he toss an interception. The highlight of the night for the rookie passer was his 19-yard connection with N’Keal Harry, who was just signed a few days ago.

NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) passes the ball over Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Abraham Lucas (72) during the second half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Where does the rookie go from here? Josh Frey offers some reflections on the performance, suggesting that Vikings fans should be enthused about what they saw from the BYU alumnus: “Right away, it was clear that Hall has the ability to navigate around pressure. The rookie wasn’t fazed by a fierce Seattle pass-rush, especially for a player appearing in his first NFL action. This isn’t uncommon from his BYU days, either.”

For the most part, I’ll echo the sentiments from my colleague (though I do think Hall needs to do better when pressure arrives). As the young fella keeps going, the goal is to perform simple tasks at an excellent level. Every part of being a QB, even the most basic, need to be done with precision and competence.

Jaren Hall and Simple Excellence

The beauty of the Hall-to-Harry play is that the quarterback didn’t need to think too much. Go ahead and re-watch the play. Pay attention to Hall’s dropback and when he decides to toss the football:

Starting from shotgun allows the young QB to have a better vantage point on what the defense is doing. Harry, who is 6’4″, 225, looks to be in single coverage. In all likelihood, the task for Hall was to check for precisely that kind of matchup prior to the ball being snapped. Is Harry in a man-to-man situation? If yes, then a quick drop back to then heave the ball toward the receiver around 20 yards down the field. Let the humongous receiver elevate to make a play.

NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver N Keal Harry (85) catches a pass over Seattle Seahawks cornerback Chris Steele (29) during the second half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

An excellent play call from Kevin O’Connell with excellent execution from the QB & WR. At other times in the game, Hall struggled to demonstrate the same excellence.

Of course, the obvious next point is simply that we’re discussing a 5th-round rookie. Perfection from the opening game isn’t at all realistic. The jump from college to the NFL is huge; the goal is that Jaren Hall can one day be a great QB2, not a franchise-saving quarterback from Day 1.

Until we’re told otherwise, Kirk Cousins is the man in charge of Minnesota’s offense. Yes, there’s the contract year and so on, but the 2023 status is certain: Cousins is the QB1. Beyond him there’s similar certainty. Nick Mullens is under contract for a couple more seasons and has the capacity to fill-in admirably. He finished his day in Seattle having gone 14 for 20 with 139 yards passing and a TD. The journeyman is the QB2.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Jul 29, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) performs a drill during training camp at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Moving forward, Hall’s mandate is to do the small things at an excellent level. Playing quarterback is about more than just tossing deep bombs (as great as those are). Hall has the luxury of taking things slowly, honing the various skills that come with being an NFL QB.

Getting in and out of the huddle cleanly, nailing every hand off, a clean exchange with the center, and performing the pre-snap reads are all minor details that don’t matter until they go wrong. Stepping up into the pocket rather than retreating to rollout would also be great to see. Subtle movements within the pocket can often be more effective than scrambling out.

The rookie gets the luxury of reinforcing all of these skills without the burden of needing to prepare for the Bucs in Week 1. He can attack the deficiencies in his knowledge and skill set while learning behind Cousins and Mullens.

Aug 3, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) practices during training camp at TCO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

After the game, Hall briefly spoke with the media. There are “a lot of things to clean up,” Hall suggested, but the QB had an optimistic outlook. He was sure to identify one of the simple things — getting to the line quickly with more time left on the clock — as something to improve. That’s one of those things that makes the offense’s life easier, so the QB is certainly right to explain that it’s something to focus on. Later on, Hall clarified that in college getting in and out of the huddle wasn’t an emphasis since teams play fast with just a single word telling the group what the next play is going to be.

It seems obvious, but that’s the point: the rookie just needs some reps at many of the basic parts of being an NFL quaterback. Master those simple things and progress from there. Oh, and he did mention doing a better job of stepping up in the pocket.

That’s not a bad place to be, folks. The athleticism is present and there is decent zip on his ball. Build off of that foundation by ensuring all of the small details are mastered as he keeps progressing toward becoming an effective NFL quarterback.

The Vikings have a pair of joint practices with the Titans this week. On Saturday, the teams will face each other for a preseason game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Keep an eye on how Jaren Hall does with the various small responsibilities that come with his job.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and NFL helped with this piece.