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Ex-director insists JJ McCarthy to start Week 1

The Minnesota Vikings have been methodical in their approach. Plans to address the quarterback position began last offseason and materialized this offseason. They culminated in the selection of JJ McCarthy with the No. 10 overall pick.

McCarthy left the college ranks with a near-pristine record of 27-1 in his final two seasons, winning a national championship to conclude his career at Michigan.

The Vikings plan to bring McCarthy along slowly, with Sam Darnold in place in the meantime.

However, one former executive believes the alternate path is the best path forward for McCarthy and the Vikings.

“I want to say this about all these rookies, but especially JJ McCarthy over there,” NFL Network’s Marc Ross said on “Total Access” on May 6. “They traded up to get him. You trade up to get the guy, that means you want him. And what about JJ is what? He’s got to play, he’s got to throw, right?

“So (as) Head Coach Kevin O’Connell: ‘JJ, you’ve got to go in there and play. It doesn’t make you any better if I sit on the bench when I’m not throwing. We need to get you in the game. All you have to do is beat Sam Darnold. Come on in, let’s see what you can do, develop those skills. To get better at something, you have to practice. So JJ has to start Week 1 and send it out… to hopefully remove any doubt for the Minnesota Vikings and say, ‘Yes, I can do it.’

Ross spent 11 years with the New York Giants, including as Vice President of Player Evaluation and during both Super Bowl runs in 2007 and 2011.

He pointed to McCarthy’s scant attempts to succeed in college.

Vikings plan to be patient with JJ McCarthy

JJ McCarthy, Minnesota Vikings

GettyJJ McCarthy of the Minnesota Vikings.

McCarthy’s 22.1 attempts per game were the fewest among the top quarterback prospects in his class. Conversely, the Vikings ranked eighth in passing attempts per game despite losing starter Kirk Cousins ​​for the season in Week 8.

“We’re not going to rush his development,” Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said on April 26, according to Kevin Seifert of ESPN. “We’re just going to do what’s best for the Vikings in the short and long term.”

Much of Adofo-Mensah’s confidence comes from his belief in O’Connell, who has admitted to shutting down previous potential quarterback options.

O’Connell has also been open about cultivating that relationship with Adofo-Mensah.

“We talked about these things,” Adofo-Mensah said, according to Seifert. “If we go back to history and say, ‘These quarterbacks missed,’ there are a lot of hands that are dirty in that regard. And we’re going to make sure our hands are clean and give him the best opportunity he can to be the best player he can be in this offense.”

Sam Darnold in limbo after the 2024 draft

Sam Darnold, Minnesota Vikings

GettySam Darnold of the Minnesota Vikings.

Darnold signed a one-year contract worth $10 million in free agency, knowing it was possible, if not likely, that the Vikings would select a quarterback in the 2024 draft. His institutional knowledge of the O’Connell plan, coming of the San Francisco 49ers, could give him an edge.

However, Darnold also has a 21-35 record as a starter, completing 59.7% of his passes with 63 touchdowns and 56 interceptions in his career.

He might have to stand out in contention during training camp, instead of just hanging in there.