Louis Riddick Reveals Possible Start Date for J.J. McCarthy

Vikings QB
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) takes a moment to watch TCU celebrate after Michigan lost, 51-45 at the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

It won’t take very long.

Louis Riddick Reveals Possible Start Date for J.J. McCarthy

That’s the word from former NFLer and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick when asked about J.J. McCarthy’s start date at the QB1 spot. The Minnesota Vikings drafted McCarthy with the 10th overall pick six days ago, and almost instantly, folks wondered when McCarthy would take over the big job in the Twin Cities.

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.

According to Riddick, the answer is sometime certainly in the first half of the season.

“Sooner rather than later. I would say in the first half of the season for sure. Listen, this football team has been set up to welcome whichever of these young quarterbacks it was going to be ultimately — in a way that it’s very uniquely qualified. I talked to Josh McCown at the combine, and he said the number one thing Kevin O’Connell has in place is a system that provides answers for quarterbacks both young and old,” Riddick replied on ESPN’s Get Up airwaves on Wednesday when asked about McCarthy’s development.

Louis Riddick
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota used Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft to select McCarthy and outside linebacker Dallas Turner from Alabama. Few Vikings fans believed both men were attainable, as general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was expected to trade his 1st-Round assets for a quarterback of the future. But on draft night, McCarthy slid to pick No. 10, where the young executive pulled the trigger on a trade with the New York Jets — while keeping his 23rd overall pick in-house. He then picked Turner after an expensive trade to the 17th spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Riddick continued about McCarthy’s trajectory, “If I’m J.J. McCarthy right now — and this isn’t to throw shade at Chicago because I think it’s a fantastic situation, too — Kevin O’Connell, along with the offensive staff up there and the weapons that they have, the offensive line they have, it’s a young quarterback’s dream.”

new qb
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Seven weeks ago, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signed young-but-still-a-journeyman passer Sam Darnold to a $10 million deal, meaning he’ll likely get the baton out of the gate this autumn. But soon after the draft, ESPN updated McCarthy’s progression plan.

“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,” ESPN’s Kevin Seifert explained last Friday.

Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Kevin O’Connell addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Wednesday, December 6th, 2023. The Vikings had a quarterback debate off the bye week in 2023, and O’Connell announced incumbent starter Joshua Dobbs would play in Week 14 at the Las Vegas Raiders.

Seifert continued, “The approach is designed to avoid the worst-case scenario — ruining McCarthy’s career by exposing him before he is ready — and is a big reason the Vikings spent $10 million in March to sign veteran Sam Darnold as a bridge starter. It’s a process O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah have been planning since meeting for the first time in 2022 during one of O’Connell’s final job interviews.”

Therefore, McCarthy has a checklist to address, and when those items are fulfilled, he’ll see the field as Minnesota’s QB1.

And Riddick believes that’ll be before Halloween.

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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