London Calling for J.J. McCarthy

Among the highlights of the new version of The Clash is young guitarist Vince White, right, taking a turn at the mic. His playing ably supported lead vocalist Joe Strummer, left, during the kick-off concert of the band’s 1984 American tour before a capacity crowd in Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gym on March 27, 1984. © Ricky Rogers / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings are headed to London in 2024, which has been known for some time. Now we know the game will take place on Sunday, October 6. Based on the NFL’s weekly scheduling, that puts Minnesota’s overseas matchup in Week 5. Is J.J. McCarthy under center by then?

London Calling for J.J. McCarthy

Assuming his health, which certainly isn’t something to take for granted after how quickly his 2023 season ended, Aaron Rodgers will be the opposing quarterback against the Vikings in London. The New York Jets are Minnesota’s opponent, and the longtime Green Bay Packers signal caller will be looking to impose dominance on a team he is very familiar with.

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Conventional wisdom suggests that Sam Darnold will open the year as Minnesota’s quarterback, and he should be expected to keep that role for quite some time. As a veteran coming in, he will have a much greater idea of the game’s speed, and allowing rookie J.J. McCarthy time to develop makes a ton of sense. In a better situation than he has ever experienced, there’s reason to believe Darnold could work out.

By Week 5, though, there may be enough motivating factors for the Vikings to get McCarthy under center. A select few analysts believe he will be the choice to open the season during Week 1, and while that would seem to be a surprise, each week that goes by will bring his debut closer.

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With four games under their belts by the time Minnesota heads to London, they could have a decent idea of what type of team they are trending toward in 2024. If there will be a consistent amount of losing with a veteran quarterback, there isn’t much reason to stop the rookie from getting reps. Also, if McCarthy impresses quickly in practice and looks the part during the preseason slate, fans will be clamoring for head coach Kevin O’Connell to make a change.

Despite being 3-0 in London action, it probably isn’t ideal for Minnesota to start McCarthy for the first time across the pond. Nothing about that week of practice will be normal, and the environment is entirely different as well. A home game against a lesser opponent could be the ideal way to get his feet wet, but there’s no guarantee that the year will shake out in a way that facilitates that.

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No matter what, you can bet that McCarthy is going to London and that the Vikings will play the Jets there. Who is under center at that point remains to be seen.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.