More and More Evidence Trickles in about Vikings QB Situation

The Carolina Panthers arrive at Wofford College for their 2022 training camp. The team plans to host 12 training camp practices that are free and open to the public. This Saturday July 30, the team will hold the 'Back Together' event at Gibbs Stadium at the college. The Panthers' Sam Darnold talks about working with his fellow players at training camp. © ALEX HICKS JR./SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL / USA TODAY NETWORK.

If you haven’t realized it, the Minnesota Vikings summer will be a conversation among fans that is very straightforward: Darnold or McCarthy?

More and More Evidence Trickles In about Vikings QB Situation

Minnesota signed Darnold about 12 hours after Kirk Cousins left for the Atlanta Falcons in March, and six weeks after Darnold joined the purple team, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah drafted rookie passer J.J. McCarthy from the University of Michigan. And because both men play the sport’s most important position, folks are looking for hints about the 2024 starter.

Vegas Odds
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Well, per ESPN reporting, that man will likely be Darnold, at least to start the 2024 campaign.

Kevin Seifert explained this week, “McCarthy is obviously the Vikings’ quarterback of the future, but they signed veteran Sam Darnold prior to the draft with the hope of avoiding a rushed ascension of a rookie into the starting role. Darnold has genuine supporters within the building, starting with coach Kevin O’Connell, and there is real hope that he can play credibly enough to avoid the typical pressure to play McCarthy before he is ready.”

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

And those musings make all the sense in the world. Soon after the draft, Adofo-Mensah said about McCarthy’s upcoming development, “A lot of times when we go back over history and say, ‘These quarterbacks have missed,’ there’s a lot of hands that are dirty in that regard. And we’re going to make sure that our hands are clean and give him the best opportunity he can to be the best player he can be in this offense.”

Seifert also added about Darnold’s path to QB, “It’s a matter of when, not if, McCarthy becomes the starter, but the Vikings hope Darnold can extend the “when” for as long as McCarthy needs him to.”

Mock Draft
Nov 25, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws during the second half of the NCAA football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Ohio State lost 30-24. © Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Darnold is also the sportsbooks’ favorite to start for the Vikings in September, meaning McCarthy would probably need a summer of dreams (and then some) to dethrone the veteran.

Meanwhile, O’Connell recently said about Darnold while chatting with Kay Adams, “Just from a standpoint of his ability to absorb our offense, go out and execute with a lot of guys, when he steps into the huddle, he’s stepping in with guys that have been in this system for two years. And we’re not really slowing down from a standpoint of how we want to kind of install our offense.”

He added, “Sam’s been great. The physical talent jumps out to me. His ability to throw the football. He’s really, really refined himself from a technique and fundamentals standpoint. Really playing with great balance and kind of the body position that elite quarterbacks tend to play with.”

Vikings QB
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O’Connell is clearly a “Darnold guy.”

McCarthy turned 21 in January, so it wouldn’t be weird one iota for the young passer to watch and learn for an indefinite period during his rookie season. In fact, the lagniappe of Darnold in Minnesota on a one-year, $10 million deal is to create an environment where McCarthy doesn’t have to start right away. NFL coaches and general managers are often paranoid about “ruining” a rookie quarterback by tossing him into the fire too soon.

So, let it be known: even with a fabulous summer from McCarthy — which will be universally welcomed by Vikings fans — the QB1 may be Darnold out of the gate, no matter what.

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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