Minnesota Vikings Coach Updates QB Competition

Kevin O'Connell, Minnesota Vikings
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Right now, Sam Darnold is slated to be the Minnesota Vikings‘ starting quarterback when training camp for the 2024 season opens up. However, that isn’t exactly how they want things to be long-term.

Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 draft, has proven to be nothing more than a decent backup quarterback despite being the subject of plenty of hype when he came out of the University of Southern California.

In April, the Vikings traded with the New York Jets for the No. 10 pick in the draft, which they used on University of Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy.

McCarthy had just led the Wolverines to a win in the College Football Playoff National Championship game, and he was the talk of the draft in the weeks leading up to it.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell was on “The Rich Eisen Show” on Monday, and he talked about his long-term plan for McCarthy.

“We’re going to have a competitive training camp, but we do have a plan for J.J., a long-term plan. 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,” O’Connell said.

What does the future hold for J.J. McCarthy?

McCarthy played in a run-heavy offense at Michigan under head coach Jim Harbaugh, who is now the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. It has led to plenty of people doubting whether he could thrive in the NFL, especially in a pass-heavy offense such as the one O’Connell and offensive coordinator Wes Phillips run in Minnesota.

Last season, the Vikings ranked fourth in pass attempts and 28th in rushing attempts. It didn’t matter whether Kirk Cousins, who tore his Achilles at midseason, Joshua Dobbs, Nick Mullens or Jaren Hall was under center.

It does sound like O’Connell doesn’t want to relegate McCarthy to always standing on the sideline with a clipboard.

“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% 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].”

If, or when, McCarthy becomes worthy of being a solid starting QB for the Vikings, he could very well guide them to decent heights.

They have plenty of offensive talent, starting with star wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who just received a giant contract extension. Fellow wideout Jordan Addison is coming off an excellent rookie year, and T.J. Hockenson is one of football’s more productive tight ends. They have also brought in Aaron Jones, the veteran running back who spent his seven pro seasons thus far with the Green Bay Packers.

If McCarthy pans out, the Vikings will definitely have a bright immediate future.

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