After watching Nick Mullens throw the ball to a few Bengals, I asked Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell to bench Mullens in favor of rookie Jaren Hall.

After watching Mullens throw the ball to any available Lion on Sunday, I'm going to have to insist.

Mullens threw for 411 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings' 30-24 loss to Detroit at U.S. Bank Stadium. He also threw four more interceptions, then called himself a "very good quarterback."

This is merely a case of mistaken identity. Mullens is confusing himself with someone else.

I can't guarantee that Hall would play better than Mullens, but O'Connell can't in good conscience send Mullens into the first offensive huddle of a game after he cost the Vikings two crucial games in a row with careless passes.

In Cincinnati, Mullens threw two interceptions with the Vikings in field-goal range, one while he was horizontal. He also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, although that play was erased by a penalty.

Sunday against Detroit, Mullens threw four interceptions, and had another potential interception dropped by a Lion in the end zone, and had a fumble wiped out after he was ruled down on a sack.

What's most remarkable about Mullens is that even his "good" passes seem suspect. He is a risk to his receivers' health. He threw a bunch of passes that are known in the NFL as "hospital balls" — if you catch them, you may wind up in the emergency room, because they hang in the air so long defenders can hold a few planning meetings and check your insurance coverage before trying to knock you unconscious.

Mullens even underthrew Johnny Mundt on a long pass down the right sideline that could have been a touchdown. Imagine underthrowing Johnny Mundt.

Kirk Cousins started eight games for the Vikings this season. He threw five interceptions.

Joshua Dobbs has played in five games for the Vikings. In them, he threw five interceptions.

Nick "The Pick" Mullens has started two games for the Vikings this season. He has thrown six interceptions and had another nullified.

The devolution of the Vikings' quarterback position has been obvious and dramatic.

Hall has produced what these days is known as a small sample size — throwing 10 NFL passes, completing eight and throwing zero interceptions — but at least the sample doesn't smell like rotten eggs.

When the NFL debate in your town involves two backup quarterbacks, there may not be a correct answer. Maybe Hall, if he started on Sunday against the Packers, would throw four interceptions.

It's time to find out.

The Vikings are now long shots to make the playoffs. If they do make the playoffs, they would play a formidable team on the road without their starting quarterback and a few other key players. Mullens is unlikely to get this team to the playoffs, and if he did, he would have little chance of winning that kind of game.

Hall is a relative unknown, but he's got to be better than Mullens, and if he's not, the Vikings should use this time to find that out so they can make informed decisions this offseason.

Mullens is eager to throw the ball downfield, and he has excellent receivers, so he is capable of accumulating yardage. That relative strength is more than offset by his willingness to put the ball up for grabs in ways that can lead to receiver injuries and unsightly turnovers.

In his NFL career, Mullens has thrown 31 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. In modern football, that's a woeful ratio.

After the game, Mullens did not sound chagrined. He praised himself and spoke in the enduring clichés of starting quarterbacks.

But he's not a starting quarterback; he may be the fourth-best quarterback on his own roster.

Even if O'Connell has reason to believe that Mullens is better than Hall, the coach owes it to his franchise to test that theory.

One of Mullens' problems is that he's not athletic, so when the pocket collapses, he either has to throw the ball up for grabs or take a sack.

Hall is a far better athlete, and it's hard to imagine him being anywhere near as reckless as Nick "The Pick" Mullens.