Vikings’ Coach Reveals Plan For J.J. McCarthy In Rookie Season

JJ McCarthy, Minnesota Vikings
NFL Analysis Network

The Minnesota Vikings selected quarterback J.J. McCarthy with the 10th overall pick of the NFL Draft in April, but there is no guarantee he is going to begin his rookie season as the starter.

As a matter of fact, right now, it’s looking rather unlikely that he will.

The Vikings have been giving Sam Darnold the first-team reps during offseason workouts, and head coach Kevin O’Connell says it’s all part of the plan moving forward.

“We’re going to have a competitive training camp, but we do have a plan for J.J., a long-term plan,” O’Connell said on The Rich Eisen Show. “We see him as our quarterback of the future and when that ultimately starts will really be about his process to getting there and demonstrating he has total comfort in the system.”

But “quarterback of the future” doesn’t necessarily mean “quarterback of 2024.”

Minnesota signed Darnold in free agency for this very reason: a bridge starter who could step in for one season and allow a rookie quarterback (who ended up being McCarthy) to learn from the bench.

Basically, the Vikings want to ensure that McCarthy is fully prepared.

“The natural learning environment that is playing quarterback in the NFL, we’re not going to be able to control every aspect, and it is good to expose him to some things as he grows and develops,” O’Connell added. “But we want to make sure it’s the right time and J.J. feels 100 percent confident that he not only can go in and have success but also, when adversity does hit, is he attacking it the right way from a foundation that we’ve built up over a good amount of time that he can feel confident to go and attack this thing for 17-plus [games].”

J.J. McCarthy Is Set Up For Success

The good news for McCarthy is that he is joining a team that already has a bunch of weapons in place.

Minnesota boasts arguably the best wide receiver in football in Justin Jefferson, whom the club just signed to a massive extension. Not only that, but the Vikings have Jordan Addison as their No. 2 wide out, and tight end T.J. Hockenson should be returning from injury at some point next season.

So, whenever O’Connell does ultimately hand the reins over to McCarthy, whether that be sometime in the fall or perhaps even in 2025, the University of Michigan product will definitely have some great supporting talent at his disposal.

McCarthy was a polarizing figure in the draft. While some praised his intangibles, others expressed serious concern over his physical limitations and the fact that he did not post big numbers at Michigan. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even throw for 3,000 yards last season.

We’ll see which side ends up being right in a few years.

J.J. McCarthy was the fifth quarterback chosen in the draft, going two spots ahead of Oregon’s Bo Nix, who went to the Denver Broncos.

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