Vikings Head Coach Designates Current QB1

Drops One Hint
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have had a tumultuous offseason for the third straight year. In 2022, the organization sent general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer packing to hire their successors Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell. Eric Kendricks, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook, three staples of the franchise, were released a year later.

Vikings Head Coach Designates Current QB1

Vikings Head Coach Designates Current QB1
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.

In the current offseason, quarterback Kirk Cousins exited the building for a final time after six years. The Vikings signed Sam Darnold to replace the four-time Pro Bowler short-term, while rookie J.J. McCarthy is viewed as the team’s long-term option.

The two passers are in different stages of their careers. Darnold, formerly a highly-touted draft prospect, was selected by the New York Jets with the third overall choice. Throughout six seasons in the NFL, he can be classified as a bust, as he has failed to live up to his expectations, especially for the team that drafted him to be the franchise’s savior.

The good news for the Vikings is that none of that matters for his future. Players can turn their careers around, and reclamation projects Jared Goff, Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield have recently done it.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

On the other hand, the duo of O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah chose McCarthy as their future signal-caller. He possesses the necessary athleticism to make plays with his legs in the running and passing game and the arm talent to become a decent passer if he can add some consistency. His greatest strength might be his attitude, combining a desire to win games with natural charisma.

Long story short, this year’s starting QB will come down to those two players. Career backup Nick Mullens and sophomore Jaren Hall can’t be called more than emergency quarterbacks at this point. Darnold has the advantage in terms of experience.

Vikings Can Buy
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Some teams and coaches value that and refuse to give their rookies the edge in Week 1, while others allow a fair competition. Both options remain realistic, but head coach O’Connell was asked about the pending battle on Wednesday and offered a straightforward response about the status quo on the depth chart.

We haven’t had to put out a depth chart or anything like that, but I would say Sam would be the guy I would look to based on the spring he’s had and, really, where he’s at in his career and his quarterback journey, and what he’s been able to do coming in and [hitting] the ground running and taking advantage of the competitive situation.

Kevin O’Connell

Darnold is the frontrunner to take the first snap in the regular season. However, the upcoming training camp in July and August can change the order.

The former Jets, Panthers, and 49ers QB is known to perform well in shorts and the preseason, but his struggles in meaningful game reps have been well documented, and there’s a chance that those issues return.

O’Connell and his staff have regularly praised McCarthy’s development but have also emphasized the careful and patient approach they will have with him.

justin jefferson
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Whoever is starting in Minnesota’s offense can feast with the multitude of weapons, highlighted by Justin Jefferson in the pass-heavy offense designed by O’Connell.

With roughly three months remaining, no final decision has been made, but Darnold is the favorite to be the starter when the road game versus the New York Giants kicks off.

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