SB Nation’s Hottest Take for Vikings … Is 100% Correct

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have tentatively identified Sam Darnold as the QB1 for 2024, rendering what many believed would be summer quarterback controversy close to nonexistent.

SB Nation’s Hottest Take for Vikings … Is 100% Correct

But according to SB Nation, a subsequent controversy will bleed into the regular season — Darnold will perform too well to bench.

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) runs off the field after the Jets defeat the Cleveland Browns, 23-16, at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in East Rutherford. © Danielle Parhizkaran/ via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

SBN’s Mark Schofield, Joseph Acosta, and James Dator published seven of their hottest NFL takes for 2024, and regarding Minnesota, one wrote, “Sam Darnold is going to create a QB controversy in Minnesota. All signs point to the Vikings choosing to wait, and not push J.J. McCarthy into a starting job before he’s ready — which is absolutely the correct move. The thing is: Sam Darnold is good enough to make a lot of people have second thoughts, and I think he’s going to do just that.”

Teams led by Darnold are 21-35 (.375) since 2018.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

The group added, “At 27-years-old there’s plenty of tread left on the tires here, and the Kevin O’Connell offense will mask a lot of Darnold’s deficiencies. Pair that with Justin Jefferson, who is always a factor, and there’s a definite scenario here where Darnold surprises people, leads the Vikings back to the playoffs, and creates concern over whether or not McCarthy should take the job.”

The Vikings have a long history of castaway quarterbacks thriving, and Darnold may be no different. It would also be a “Vikings thing” for Darnold to play “too well” — with some fans claiming he should be the QB1 in 2025. Per the way purple football usually goes, Darnold will be productive enough to keep J.J. McCarthy on the bench, and then fans will divide into pro-Darnold and pro-McCarthy camps.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports Tim Fuller Photography.

Meanwhile, Darnold will have everything working in his favor, arguably for the first in his career. The weapons? They’ll be there — Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, and Aaron Jones can attest. What’s more, Darnold has never quite had a coaching supporting staff quite like Kevin O’Connell + Josh McCown in his corner. In both regards, it’s all on the line in 2024 for Darnold, his last best chance to prove he’s a QB1 in the NFL — not a QB2 on a Carson Wentz-like trajectory.

Darnold also performed rather efficiently when handed the starter’s baton in 2022. The Panther went 4-2 on his watch, and this was his EPA+CPOE ranking that season:

QB Rankings | 2022,
(min. 125 att)

  1. Patrick Mahomes (.178)
  2. Tua Tagovailoa (.148)
  3. Jalen Hurts (.143)
  4. Josh Allen (.137)
  5. Sam Darnold (.128)
  6. Jimmy Garoppolo (.128)
  7. Joe Burrow (.126)
Sam Darnold
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.

SB Nation might be onto something.

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