Vikings Beat Writer Says to Ignore Negative Reports About J.J. McCarthy

Syndication: The Record
Melanie Maxwell / USA TODAY NETWORK

There’s two major Minnesota Vikings story lines this offseason. A contract extension for wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The second is when will rookie quarterback J.J. McCarthy be ready to be the starter.

There’s been limited information available regarding how well McCarthy has been performing during voluntary organized team activities (OTAs), but that’s mostly due to the fact that media access at these practices has been extremely limited.

Out of the reports and videos that have floated out, though, there has been some concern about how well JJ has been slinging it. Not that he’s been bad. But for every positive report, there seems to be one that notes his struggles too.

There were several reps where you could see him going through his progressions, hesitating a bit, and then scrambling or throwing to his checkdown option. He’s clearly still working on getting the rhythm and timing down within Kevin O’Connell’s offense. McCarthy also dropped a shotgun snap for a fumble at one point and had a few inaccurate misses.

Will Ragatz (SI) describing his observations of JJ McCarthy at Vikings voluntary OTAs this week

For many Vikings fans who were sold on McCarthy being their QB of the future, concern has already set it. Well, one Minnesota Vikings beat writer, Alec Lewis (The Athletic), says not to worry. The 21-year-old rookie is “right on track” regarding where he should be in his development. Bumps in the road are to be expected.

Mailbag Question: Why is there already a discrepancy in how J.J. McCarthy is being reported on?

Lewis: Because the current media environment breeds misinformation. Algorithms guide social media posts. One tweet, from any account, can build like a tidal wave and cause a firestorm.

If you’ve read this space, then you know what you need to know: McCarthy can hum the football. The Vikings have established an environment where he’s comfortable with trial and error so that he can develop consistent layering.

And none of this warrants any major reaction. He is 21 years old. He is learning an entirely new system. He is throwing to pro receivers for the first time. He is right on track.

Alec Lewis on why fans should not be worried about J.J. McCarthy’s OTA struggles (The Athletic)

Minnesota Vikings beat writer: Don’t worry about J.J. McCarthy

As Lewis notes, McCarthy is just 21 years old and he’s learning an entirely new system, one that is very different from what quarterbacks are taught in college.

Even if Michigan’s offense was closer to a pro-style scheme than most collegiate programs, J.J. is still drinking information out of a firehose, not to mention throwing to new receivers for the first time (and against pro defenders for the first time too).

Related: Is Justin Jefferson the One Holding Up Contract Talks with Vikings?

If playing quarterback in the NFL was easy, QBs wouldn’t make double the amount that other position groups do. Quarterback development takes time, especially at such a young age. Vikings fans must show patience in their new QB, over the next couple years.

When can we expect J.J. McCarthy to start for the Minnesota Vikings?

This is the million dollar question that every Vikings fan is asking. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t clear yet. It’s still very early on in the preseason process. Most major roster decisions won’t be made for months.

But really, we shouldn’t be concerning ourselves with that question. There are reports floating around that Sam Darnold is the Vikings’ guy this season. But, as Ian Rapoport is quick to point out, Sam Darnold isn’t considered a starter in this league for a reason. If McCarthy is who we hope he is, then he will take the job as soon as he is ready.

Despite a lot of media members favoring Darnold to open the season, as the Minnesota Vikings starter, the Sportsbooks only have McCarthy as a slight underdog to take the job before the 2024-25 NFL season officially kicks off.

Related: Justin Jefferson’s New Contract Could Cost the Vikings Jordan Addison

While there might be a long road ahead for McCarthy to reach his full QB1 potential, fans can relax, because there’s really no rush. The Vikings aren’t relying on JJ this year. They are hoping to rely on him in the future.

The Minnesota Vikings open their 2023 season against the New York Giants on September 8th. Even if he’s not ready by week one, it’s just a matter of time. Remember, this is about “when” the new QB starts, not “if”.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: