Vikings Signing in Line for Breakout Season, Say HC

Drops One Hint
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The Minnesota Vikings have acquired some talent in recent weeks. Defenders Blake Cashman, Jonathan Greenard, and Andrew Van Ginkel don’t require any projections because if they play as well as last season, they will be wonderful additions. Running back Aaron Jones has always been explosive when he was healthy; he is also a sure thing, barring injuries.

Vikings Signing in Line for Breakout Season, Say HC

Vikings Signing In Line for Breakout Season, According to the HC
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One other guy, however, requires that projection and faith in his development as he matures. That is Sam Darnold, the successor of departed passer Kirk Cousins, at least on paper. Vikings fans desire the selection of a top quarterback prospect in April’s draft, and their dreams may very well be fulfilled. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has acquired the 23rd overall pick and can now package that with his 11th overall choice to move into the top five of April’s draft.

That’s how one of Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, and J.J. McCarthy will end up in Minnesota. For now, however, it is Darnold’s offense. He might not be the long-term solution, but he shouldn’t be expected to be replaced in the starting unit anytime soon.

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His head coach, Kevin O’Connell, voiced a lot of confidence in his new signal-caller on Monday.

Always been a fan of Sam going back to — you know, I’ve known him for a long time — watching him progress through his college career and then ultimately being a high draft pick, having done a full process on him then.We all go through a quarterback journey in this league, and I use that term very lightly for myself, as well. But it’s a journey where you learn and you continue to grow, and ultimately you just want to find yourself in a position in the future to be the best version of yourself and all the things you’ve learned along the way.

Sam’s at that point in his career. I think his best football is ahead of him because of how he’s handled the last couple years, whether it’s going 4-2 down the stretch in Carolina in ’22, or when you turn on the tape of his work in San Francisco, you can tell Kyle (Shanahan), Brian Griese — these guys did a great job in the next phase of his career. Fundamentals, techniques; things that you look for to see growth.

I’m excited to get going with Sam because I think we can pick up where he left off last year. Like I’ve talked about already, love the group of guys that we have around the quarterback position in our offense right now, and I think it’s a going to be a really positive situation for Sam.

Darnold’s NFL journey has been underwhelming. He has thrown for 12,064 yards through six seasons, 63 touchdowns, and 56 interceptions. The passer rating of 78.3 is a disaster.

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The good news is that those numbers haven’t been entirely his fault. He has played in dire circumstances and overcame an inept coaching staff and bad supporting casts in New York and Carolina. In 2022, Darnold started six games and logged seven scores and three picks—a promising campaign.

The results of his tenure with the 49ers are two touchdowns and one interception, although it is noticeable that the INT came in garbage time versus the Ravens, a game in which Brock Purdy turned the ball over four times. He learned from Kyle Shanahan without the pressure of starting, which might have benefitted his development. It is also a system with many similarities to O’Connell’s.

Build A Wide
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The Vikings are by far his best situation outside of his short stint in San Francisco. He will throw the ball to fabulous receivers, highlighted by Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, and the coaching staff includes two former NFL quarterbacks. O’Connell has shown his ability to maximize the QB talent in the room. In theory, if Nick Mullens guided an explosive offense, Darnold can do that, too.

It should be expected that the guys in charge in Minnesota praise Darnold at this time. It remains to be seen if he can actually produce his best season, although that is not a high bar to clear.

At age 26, Darnold has the massive opportunity to turn his career around in an excellent situation, but the competition could arrive on April 25.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt