Minnesota Vikings’ Coach Doesn’t Hold Back On Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold, Minnesota Vikings
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2024 NFL free agency period, the Minnesota Vikings made a significant move at the quarterback position, marking a pivotal transition for the team. With the departure of Kirk Cousins, the Vikings welcomed former San Francisco 49ers QB, Sam Darnold, into their ranks.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell expressed his enthusiasm for Darnold’s arrival, praising his performance over the past two years.

O’Connell, speaking to reporters, highlighted Darnold’s impressive development and emphasized his refined fundamentals and techniques, acquired during his time with the San Francisco 49ers. The coach is eager to witness Darnold’s progression as he integrates with his new teammates in Minnesota.

“I think his best football is ahead of him because of how he’s handled the last couple of 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 [the 49ers coaches] did a great job in the next phase of his career.”

Sam Darnold’s professional journey began with the New York Jets, where he was drafted third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft out of USC. Despite facing initial challenges, Darnold demonstrated promise, throwing for 2,865 yards and 17 touchdowns in his rookie season, though he also had 15 interceptions.

However, Darnold showcased improvement in subsequent seasons, notably in the 2019-20 campaign, where he recorded career highs of 3,024 passing yards and 19 touchdowns in 13 games. Despite a brief setback, he showed resilience, contributing significantly to the Carolina Panthers during the 2021 season.

In a six-game stint during the 2022-23 season, Darnold led the Panthers to a 4-2 record with impressive performances, displaying a career-high 92.6 passer rating. His tenure with the San Francisco 49ers in 2023-24 provided further experience and support, setting the stage for his opportunity with the Vikings.

While Darnold’s statistics may not be the most dazzling, he stands to benefit greatly from the presence of rising star wide receiver, Justin Jefferson. Jefferson, now entering his fifth year with the Vikings, has proven himself as a formidable force on the field.

Since his rookie season in 2020, Jefferson has consistently elevated his game, culminating in a remarkable performance during the 2022-23 season with a career-high 1,809 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Despite a setback due to injury in the 2023-24 season, Jefferson is expected to return to peak form, providing Darnold with a dynamic target.

With the departure of Kirk Cousins, the Vikings face a new era, but with the acquisition of Sam Darnold and the continued presence of talents like Justin Jefferson, optimism abounds in Minnesota. Head coach Kevin O’Connell and his team aim to make waves in the upcoming 2024-25 season, poised to surprise the league with their potential.

As the NFL free agency period progresses, all eyes will be on the Minnesota Vikings to see how they shape the rest of their roster for the season ahead.

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