Everyone Keeps Circling the Same Game for J.J. McCarthy

mock draft
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) warms up before Ohio State game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Justin Jefferson needs a contract extension, but after that large storyline, rookie quarterback J.J. McCarthy’s takeover timing is the next humongous item in the Minnesota Vikings’ orbit.

Everyone Keeps Circling the Same Game for J.J. McCarthy

Minnesota found McCarthy with the 10th overall pick in April after months of folks wondering if the Vikings would “trade the farm” for a rookie signal-caller. They did not. Kirk Cousins left in March for more profitable pastures in Atlanta, nominating the 2024 NFL Draft as the spot for his replacement.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports.

Well, that man is McCarthy — and the working theory suggests he could take the QB1 mantle in Week 7 at home versus the Detroit Lions.

The idea arrived from a couple of spots recently. Pro Football FocusTrevor Sikkema wrote last week about McCarthy’s emergence, “McCarthy will also just need time to grow as a player. That timeline might not manifest into a first start until the second half of the season, but I look at Week 7 as a date to circle for McCarthy. Yes, the Lions would be a tough first assignment, but the Vikings have a bye in Week 6 and will also play Detroit in Minnesota. Those are typically the two factors that play into when teams make a quarterback change — extra practice and a home crowd behind them.”

Minnesota Vikings 2024 NFL Draft. Watch as QB J.J. McCarthy addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Friday. The Vikings traded up one spot on the draftboard with the New York Jets for McCarthy.

Meanwhile, VikingsTerritory‘s own Wes Johnson opined last weekend, “The Vikings face a tough stretch of games to start the 2024 season. They match up against arguably three of the top five defenses in the league and sandwich a matchup with the archrival Green Bay Packers in between.”

Johnson added, “All matchups that might be a bit much for an incoming rookie quarterback to take on initially. A Week 7 matchup at home coming off of a bye seems like a good opportunity to insert McCarthy into the fire, and the team will be doing so with the help of Hockenson, who came off of his knee injury against the very team that injured him. Sharpen your horns. It’s time to pillage.”

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports.

For context, here’s Minnesota’s 2024 schedule:

Week 1 — at New York Giants
Week 2 — vs. San Francisco 49ers
Week 3 — vs. Houston Texans
Week 4 — at Green Bay Packers
Week 5 — vs. New York Jets (London)
Week 6 — Bye
Week 7 — vs. Detroit Lions
Week 8 — at Los Angeles Rams (TNF)
Week 9 — vs. Indianapolis Colts
Week 10 — at Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 11 — at Tennessee Titans
Week 12 — at Chicago Bears
Week 13 — vs. Arizona Cardinals
Week 14 — vs. Atlanta Falcons
Week 15 — vs. Chicago Bears (MNF)
Week 16 — at Seattle Seahawks
Week 17 — vs. Green Bay Packers
Week 18 — at Detroit Lions

The Vikings evidently have a checklist of benchmarks for McCarthy to hit before taking the big job, and according to popular opinion, that might just be by Week 7. The murderer’s row schedule from the first five weeks would be in the rearview, the time apparently ripe for McCarthy’s introduction.

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With or without McCarthy in the lineup, Minnesota is expected to win between six and eight games this season.

McCarthy turned 21 in January.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.