ESPN Answers Vikings QB Question

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports | Jan 7, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports.

The quarterback situation was the major topic in the 2024 offseason for the Minnesota Vikings. After the 2023 campaign, the Vikings were scheduled to lose Kirk Cousins in free agency after having him under center for six seasons. A torn Achilles halfway through the 2023 season gave fans a glimpse of life without the reliable veteran. He has since moved to Atlanta, while the Vikings have found two successors.

ESPN Answers Vikings QB Question

ESPN Answers Vikings QB Question
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General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah acquired former third-overall pick Sam Darnold in free agency. NFL teams think there is still plenty of untapped potential, although his public perception is that of a bust. A few weeks later, in the first round of the draft, the Vikes traded up to grab Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy with the tenth overall pick, the highest spot for a QB in franchise history.

McCarthy is undoubtedly the team’s investment for the future, but he might not be the top option for the organization’s short-term success. The Vikings will be patient with their pricey rookie and give him the time he needs to grow into the starting role. It depends on his trajectory.

Vikings QB
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports.

ESPN’s Dan Graziano laid out the plan for Minnesota’s QB spot in 2024.

The questions about McCarthy coming out of Michigan centered largely on the fact that he wasn’t asked to do as much in college as his quarterback draft classmates were — that he hasn’t demonstrated the ability to deliver as a high-volume passer (22.1 pass attempts per game last season, 92nd in the FBS). The Vikings (and other teams) believe he has the skills to do that at the NFL level with the right situation and the right coaching, and Minnesota is a place that offers him both.

The Vikings have a specific step-by-step plan for McCarthy’s development, and if he hits each step, odds are he opens the 2024 season as the starter. If not, and they have to keep working with him while starting Sam Darnold, they’re fine with that, too.

Dan Graziano, ESPN

The rookie quarterback was a controversial prospect leading up to the draft. Some emphasized his lack of production in college, while others fell in love with his intangibles and physical attributes.

new qb
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McCarthy started for the Michigan Wolverines for two seasons, including in some big games, but the offense was run-heavy. An offense that relies heavily on the run can only be successful when the quarterback can make plays on third downs, and McCarthy was famously one of the nation’s top guys in that area.

Poor supporting casts and coaching slowed Darnold’s career, including three seasons with the New York Jets and two years in Carolina. Coming out of college, Darnold shined with arm talent but was too prone to mistakes. That habit had not been addressed in years until he seemed to make real progress in the final six games of the 2022 season by dialing down his interception numbers.

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Spending a year under the tutelage of Kyle Shanahan as a backup in San Francisco adds to the intrigue.

Various sources and reports have suggested that McCarthy will have some kind of checklist, and until he checks all the boxes, Darnold will steer the ship. Darnold is the favorite to start at this point, but it wouldn’t be shocking if McCarthy can show enough in training camp to take his spot.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt