Vikings QBs Will Annoy Skol Nation in Upcoming Months

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The central question of the 2024 offseason in Minnesota has been the future of the quarterback position. With Kirk Cousins entering free agency, a new era of Vikings football was within reach. Indeed, the six-year captain exited to move to Atlanta, leaving the Vikings without a starting-caliber passer on the roster. Only backups Jaren Hall and Nick Mullens remained.

Vikings QBs Will Annoy Skol Nation in Upcoming Months

Vikings QBs Will Annoy Skol Nation in Upcoming Months
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The first step after Cousins’ announcement to leave was to sign a new QB, someone who can at least be a serviceable starter until someone else is found. That man is Sam Darnold. The Vikes acquired the free agent after a season of backup duties for Brock Purdy in San Francisco, hoping he could get his career back on track in a better offense. His career start in New York was underwhelming, partly because he had to overcome subpar coaching and terrible surroundings on the field.

His next stint was in Carolina, where the situation wasn’t much different. Three seasons in New York and two seasons in Carolina included only a handful of good games. The final few contests, though, showed some promise, and so did his few opportunities in San Francisco. That upward trajectory is why he generated some interest in the offseason.

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The Vikings knew he wouldn’t be the long-term answer, but he gave them some insurance in case an acquired rookie wouldn’t be ready or the team missed out completely. But GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah didn’t miss out and traded for rookie J.J. McCarthy after months of rumors and theories about whether the Vikings would draft a signal-caller.

Coming out of Michigan, McCarthy played in a pro-style offense in a tough division. He played on the biggest stage, including the national title game, but he wasn’t asked to be the driving force of the Wolverines’ offense behind a strong running game.

However, he possesses some exciting tools, including solid mobility, a good arm, and the mental makeup to become a franchise quarterback for the Vikings. He isn’t viewed as a raw player, which could accelerate the learning curve and shorten the time needed to be ready for NFL snaps.

new qb
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Fans understandably want to see the shiny new toy on the field, not some former bust on his fourth team in the league. Teams should look out for their investment, and starting a player too early can hurt his development in the long term.

Both examples, a rookie starting immediately or sitting for weeks or months behind a veteran, are common in today’s NFL, and there have been failures and successes in either group.

One day after McCarthy was added to the roster, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert reported: “The Vikings will follow an individualized development plan they created for each of the quarterbacks they considered drafting, one that requires McCarthy to hit specific benchmarks and gives coach Kevin O’Connell full authority to make the timing decision.”

There’s a reason why the Vikings pay Darnold $10 million for one season, and it surely isn’t to watch McCarthy play football. On the flip side, if he’s ready to compete, the guys in charge want to see McCarthy, and they want him to gain valuable experience.

Vikings Can Buy
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Because both approaches have pros and cons, the decision will be made on the fly. Head coach O’Connell doesn’t enter the OTAs and training camp with a decision made.

During the draft, O’Connell appeared on NFL Network and was asked whether McCarthy would have the opportunity to start or if Darnold is the presumed starter.

There’s really at this point no reason why we would set any kind of standards or ‘hey, this or this is going to happen.’ Anytime you start making projections on what you think may happen at the quarterback position, you can run into some trouble. I think we set up an extremely competitive environment but one in which is a quarterback-friendly environment.

Kevin O’Connell

Of course, the head coach doesn’t confirm a starter in April, as there wouldn’t be any benefit to that. He also hasn’t seen either quarterback in any competitive form of practice.

Sam Darnold
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Regardless, this trend will continue. Fans and reporters want to know, but O’Connell and his coaching staff will return to the same phrases. They will stay uncommitted until August at the very least, perhaps even until a day or two before the season opener.

That approach is logical, but it will be highly annoying for Skol Nation. Darnold is the favorite to start because that’s why he’s here, but the guys in charge won’t hold McCarthy back if he’s ready.

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