Former Vikings LB Pumps the Brakes on Recent QB Theory

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.

For the first time in 10 years, the Minnesota Vikings will feature a rookie and a veteran quarterback(s) vying for QB1 and QB2 jobs this summer.

Former Vikings LB Pumps the Brakes on Recent QB Theory

Veterans Sam Darnold and Nick Mullens, along with rookie J.J. McCarthy, are the combatants, and one man will lead the offense in 59 days at the New York Giants. Darnold is the odds-on favorite to start the season, though the QB2 gig is up for grabs.

J.J. McCarthy
Minnesota quarterback J.J. McCarthy at the first day of rookie minicamp on May 10th, 2024, in Eagan, Minnesota. TCO Performance Center. McCarthy was drafted by the Vikings with the 10th overall pick on April 25th, 2024, in Detroit.

Recently, the voice of the Vikings, Paul Allen, claimed that McCarthy, the rookie, could be battling for the QB2 job — not QB1 — at training camp and in the preseason, a comment that turned heads because many want the youngster to start sooner rather than later.

However, former Vikings linebacker Pete Bercich, who also calls Vikings games with Allen, pumped the brakes on that theory this week. “I mean, they know what they have in Mullens. Mullens has been around, we’ve seen what he can do, and you have a guy, McCarthy, that needs snaps. And so whether he’s two or three, if he’s three, I think he’s gonna be out there very quickly, you know, as a three and get a vast majority of these preseason snaps to get himself ready,” Bercich said on KFAN.

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports.

At June’s minicamp, head coach Kevin O’Connell essentially named Darnold the QB1 while claiming the club had no official depth chart, at least not at the time.

Bercich added, “But I don’t expect McCarthy to be at three for very long, if past the first preseason game.”

A few days before Bercich’s insights, Allen said, “I would make it prohibitively favored in that it would be Sam Darnold starting, Nick Mullens as the backup, and then J.J. McCarthy as the 3rd QB … But this is an opportunity for McCarthy.”

bleacher report
Minnesota quarterback Sam Darnold joins Vikings Entertainment Network’s Gabe Henderson and discusses being coached now by his former New York Jets teammate, Josh McCown, being a big UFC fan, his journey through the NFL and more. Darnold became a Vikings in March 2024 after Kirk Cousins left for the Atlanta Falcons.

He added, “Puncher’s chance would be too strong, but long-ish shot fashion to win the two jobs in training camp. And I don’t necessarily know if it’s going to happen, but I would make 3 QBs on the active roster prohibitively favored.”

Last year, Mullens served as QB2 after healing from an early-season injury and could be on track for the same assignment in 2024. Mullens turned heads last year for his ability to get the ball downfield — often seamlessly — but committed too many daredevil turnovers.

nick mullens
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Right after the draft, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert mentioned a checklist that would be used in application to McCarthy’s game-readiness. “The Vikings will follow an individualized development plan they created for each of the quarterbacks they considered drafting, one that requires McCarthy to hit specific benchmarks and gives coach Kevin O’Connell full authority to make the timing decision,” Seifert explained on April 26th.

So, while McCarthy could be technically battling for the QB2 job, Bercich doesn’t believe any QB3 assignment would last long, mainly because the secret is out on Mullens’ ceiling.

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).

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