Table of Contents
Note: An original version of this article appeared over at our friends at BellyUp Sports. Read more of their stuff here.
For Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Kellen Mond, the stakes could not have been higher. After a 2021 season spent in Mike Zimmer’s doghouse and lackluster training camp performances, his future with the Vikings was very doubtful. But the young man from Texas A&M managed to turn heads with his performance in Minnesota’s 26-20 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. He also may have given his team a glimpse of what the future may look like.
Kellen Mond Turns it Around
For the game, Mond was 9-14 for 119 yards and two touchdown passes. The touchdown connections were both to veteran wideout Albert Wilson. His passer rating for the game was an elite level 130.7. He accomplished this after completing just 2-5 passes for 24 yards in the first half. He showed excellent pocket presence, displayed a confident game rhythm, and he appeared to have a firm grasp of the playbook.
One play, in particular, turned the game around for Kellen Mond. With 8:02 left in the third quarter and the Vikings fourth and five from the Raiders 36, Mond delivered. He threw a 22-yardstrike to wide receiver Dan Chisena that kept the drive alive. A couple of plays later Mond threw for his first touchdown of the game, a two-yard throw to Wilson that cut the Raiders’ lead to 16-13. He later added a 20-yard touchdown throw to Wilson in the fourth quarter.
Kirk Cousins Out with COVID
How did the other Vikings’ quarterback fare? Starter Kirk Cousins was ruled inactive for the game after contracting COVID-19 (what a surprise). And while Sean Mannion certainly did not play poorly, there was a clear divide between the play of the backup signal callers. Mannion completed eight of 12 passes for 79 yards and looked competent but not inspiring during his stint.
A few other young players also turned in notable performances. Rookie right guard Ed Ingram put the noise behind him and turned in an inspiring performance. He was a human steamroller as he opened holes for Vikings running backs and he took several Raider defenders to the ground with his strength.
And he also helped form a solid pocket for Vikings’ quarterbacks to throw from. His performance more than likely earned him the starting right guard job for the season opener. The LSU product appears to have a bright future for the purple and gold.
Running Backs Shine
And two young running backs also had accomplished games against the Raiders. Second-year back Kene Nwangwu had 41 yards on seven carries and created havoc in the Raiders backfield, breaking several tackles and striking fear in the hearts of Las Vegas defenders. And Tyler Chandler, the rookie from North Carolina proved to be a force in and of himself. He tallied five carries for 50 yards and embarrassed a couple of Raiders with his nifty moves.
In closing, while Kellen Mond did not have a perfect night against the Raiders, his play showed marked improvement from past performances. And although he produced his impressive results against Las Vegas’ second and third-team players, the spark that he provided the Vikings bodes well for future improvement.