So, When Does J.J. McCarthy Play for the Vikings?

Vikings Top Draft Target
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy celebrates after the 34-13 win over Washington to win the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

After weeks of intrigue leading up to the NFL Draft, J.J. McCarthy ultimately became the Vikings selection and their choice to be the quarterback of the future. Replacing Kirk Cousins is the ultimate goal, but he shouldn’t be expected to start out of the gate for Kevin O’Connell. The big question now revolves around when he does ultimately hit the field?

So, When Does J.J. McCarthy Play for the Vikings?

The Vikings had multiple paths to take this offseason when figuring out their quarterback situation. They could have paid Kirk Cousins, but given the absolute bag he got from the Atlanta Falcons, that would have never made much sense. Instead opting for a bridge quarterback, Sam Darnold was decided upon as the answer.

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It is plausible that Darnold flourishes in Minnesota. For the first time in his career, he has legitimate weapons, real protection, and a coaching staff with a clue. That puts J.J. McCarthy in an ideal spot as well, given that he will have time to watch and develop as the backup. What that timeline looks like, however, remains to be seen.

There’s almost no chance that Minnesota will throw McCarthy into the fire for the first week of the season, but beyond that, all bets are off. The decision to change starting quarterbacks will be reflective of Darnold’s performance, the team’s overall situation, and their rookie’s behind-the-scenes development.

Polling Vikings fans as part of the process to figure out when the quarterback transition will occur appears to be why most believe the change will happen sooner rather than later. That likely is due to the evidence shown thus far as a professional by Darnold. A belief that more of the same from his time with the Jets and Panthers will commence leads people to think he won’t be long for a starting role.

sam darnold
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It’s probably more than fair to assume that Darnold isn’t the answer, but there’s definitely a slim chance he finds a way to guide the Vikings to a handful of victories. Doing so would prolong McCarthy’s time on the sidelines and give him a longer period to study the game and get up to speed.

It remains to be seen how the former Michigan product will acclimate at the highest level. He was largely a handoff quarterback for Jim Harbaugh, and with Justin Jefferson, he’s definitely going to need to show arm talent.

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The landing spot couldn’t have been better for him, and now he’ll need to show competency when coming off the sidelines.

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.