The Kellen Mond Situation is Being Blown Out of Proportion

Aug 21, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond (11) throws in front of Indianapolis Colts defensive end Isaac Rochell (91) during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

There has been no shortage of media attention on the Kellen Mond situation. If you’re among the few Vikings fans who don’t know what I’m talking about, take a peak at how Mike Zimmer addressed his rookie QB’s role with the team heading into Week 18:

Zim’s curt response has led to no shortage of online scribblings. Here is Will Ragatz from Sports Illustrated: “Could it signal some discord between the coaching staff and front office? GM Rick Spielman is the one who made Mond the Vikings’ first early-round draft pick at quarterback since Teddy Bridgewater in 2014. Zimmer not even wanting to play Mond next week against the Bears — in a game that should be about looking ahead to next season — is just plain weird. He clearly doesn’t have any confidence in the rookie to even run the offense at a competent level.”

The curious online reader could find all kinds of other articles discussing the Kellen Mond situation.

In fairness, there was a fair bit of discussion heading into the game about how the Vikings ought to proceed at QB. I made the case for keeping Mond in a backup role; Purple PTSD‘s Josh Frey offered a rebuttal, arguing in favor of putting the rookie onto the field. It’s also something Sam and I unpacked in our most recent podcast episode. It’s this backdrop that gives Zim’s post-game words some added fuel.

Predictably, Zim was asked to re-address the situation in his Monday press conference. “I just mean he’s the third-team quarterback,” Zim explained in response to what he meant by his earlier comments. He goes on to suggest that the rookie has made good progress and has a chance to have a good NFL career. He later clarified that starting Sean Mannion was the result of the veteran doing “a great job everyday” and being the QB2 all year. Zim also indicated that getting questions immediately after a loss contributes to his terse responses.

One thing that’s easy to forget is that Kellen Mond looked completely overmatched in preseason, so putting him into a situation like on SNF football would likely end in disaster. If he couldn’t overcome the league’s third-string players, how could he succeed in prime time, on the road, and in brutal weather conditions?

Does the team’s unwillingness to start him on SNF mean Zim and the rest of the leadership have given up on Mond? By no means. In fact, their decision to sit him may be indicative of their long-term plans for Mond. Throwing him to the wolves on SNF may end up doing more harm than good insofar as he gets completely overwhelmed. These kind of performances can hurt a rookie’s confidence and contribute toward building bad habits. To my mind, the Vikings were being future oriented when they chose not to play him. Protect the rookie from a situation that wouldn’t be at all productive.

Regardless of their motivations, the situation is being blown out of proportion. Minnesota’s issues extend far, far beyond their rookie third-round pick.