Pat McAfee Has QB Plan for Vikings

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports.

For about six weeks, Minnesota Vikings fans have daydreamed about when rookie quarterback J.J. McCarthy might take the reins of QB1.

Pat McAfee Has QB Plan for Vikings

Minnesota found McCarthy with the 10th overall pick in April’s draft after a trade one spot up the board with the New York Jets. The month before, the purple team added Sam Darnold as a patchover quarterback, and per Darnold’s modus operandi, the man has performed wonderfully at organized team activities (OTAs) and this week’s minicamp. It’s what the man does.

Vikings QB
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It’s only a matter of time before McCarthy takes over the big job, and according to ESPN’s Pat McAfee, an NFL punter turned podcaster, the rookie will see action sooner rather than later. Speaking on his show this week, McAfee predicted a rather immediate Darnold slump — that’s also what Darnold does — with a McCarthy takeover before too long.

“If Sam Darnold starts doing that Sam Darnold sh!t where he’s throwing the ball to the other team numerous times, there might be a little bit of a push for J.J. McCarthy to get in there. And that’s best case scenario for all parties if you’re trying to think about the QB of the future,” McAfee opined to his show’s panel.

Pat McAfee
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports.

McAfee called his plan and theory a “perfect transition” and also complimented the Vikings’ new all-white uniforms.

The idea isn’t too revolutionary. Of course Minnesota would pivot to McCarthy if Darnold were up to his old tricks. It’s just that McAfee’s hypothesis is a bit against the grain because Darnold has played quite well to date during this Vikings’ offseason.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Darnold addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center during OTAs. Darnold joined the Vikings’ roster in March 2024 during free agency, on deck as a Kirk Cousins replacement and sharing the QB room later with rookie passer J.J. McCarthy of Michigan.

Head coach Kevin 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.”

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports | Jan 7, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports.

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.

And right after the draft, Vikings general manager 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.”

The evidence absolutely points to Darnold starting the season in Minnesota with an unknown hook to McCarthy, who will anxiously wait for the shoulder tap.

Left up to McAfee and his lowly outlook for Darnold, the transition could arrive sooner than most expect.


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.

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