The Super Bowl was in Kyle Sloter’s backyard. The pinnacle of his aspirations was just a 30-minute drive south on U.S. Highway 19 from where he threw touchdowns as a suburban Atlanta high school star. He was in town, too, absorbing the week’s events where he floated through circuses and caught up with former teammates like Von Miller.
But Sloter, the 25-year-old Vikings quarterback, wasn’t interested in the crowd at the big game.
“I’m trying to save my first time for when I get to go [as a player],” Sloter said Wednesday. “Hopefully that day will come sooner rather than later.”
Sloter is in a unique position inside the Vikings quarterback room, where he’s Minnesota’s longest-tenured passer with a few standout preseason performances and no actual NFL passes on his résumé. He’s also the only one currently under contract for next season with experience working under newly-hired quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak, the former Broncos assistant coach and 31-year-old son of Gary Kubiak – the former Broncos head coach. (Trevor Siemian started 24 games for the Broncos in 2016-2017 and is a pending free agent.)
The Vikings’ hiring of both Kubiaks last month was welcomed news to Sloter, who quickly reached out to his former and current quarterbacks coach for whom he threw for a 125.4 passer rating in the 2017 preseason.
“Klint knows I really want to be great,” Sloter said. “That’s my ultimate driving force. I don’t want to be just the greatest Vikings quarterback ever; I want to be the greatest quarterback of all time, period. That’s my driving force every day. I set high goals for myself. I know Klint appreciates that.”
At the start of the NFL offseason, plans are written in pencil. The Vikings offense will take shape over months, but Sloter is almost certain about one thing for a 2019 version headed by coordinator Kevin Stefanski and the Kubiaks. And it’s a good guess considering Mike Zimmer’s pleas and Gary Kubiak offenses having a 47-percent run rate in his 22 seasons of oversight.
“I’d think it’ll start with the run, and I don’t think that’s a secret,” Sloter said. “We’re a team that wants to establish it first.”
Sloter is positioned to possibly compete for the backup job this summer with whomever the Vikings add to the mix behind Kirk Cousins. In the coming weeks, he said he’ll refine mechanics, such as footwork and body position, in Denver with his personal coach Steve Fairchild – who coached Klint Kubiak at Colorado State. Last fall’s 16 weeks as the scout team quarterback already left Sloter feeling he’s grown mentally with better decision making and timing.
“I was able to go out there with no consequences or repercussions,” Sloter said. “I could just let it rip. Test some tight windows. I felt like I started to get things figured out probably midway through last year.”