Vikings’ Offense Finds a Key Component
The story of the Vikings’ offense through 9 weeks can be described as inconsistent at best. They have repeatedly gotten off to hot starts during this winning streak. However, they then seem to turtle up, especially in the 3rd quarter. Although, now they have found a key component that should help them break that cycle.
The acquisition of TJ Hockenson via trade with the Lions proved to be a great trade through one game. While there were some blemishes and blown assignments by Hockenson, he was still a net positive to the team. Most importantly, he provided a big target over the middle of the field that has been nonexistent for the first 7 games of the season.
Hockenson racked up 9 catches for 70 yards. He played nearly every single snap for the Vikings after only 5 days with the team. This is nothing short of impressive.
His ability to learn enough of the offense and have that great of chemistry with Cousins in a short period of time should excite every fan. If that is what Hockenson can provide in that short time frame, just imagine what he can do with a few weeks under his belt.
Let’s take a look at what exactly he brought to the table.
Attacking the Middle of the Field
One thing that has been missing from the Vikings’ offense this season is their ability to take the middle of the field. Hockenson gives them that ability and takes the pressure off of Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Take a look at this compilation Nick Olson put together.
Nearly every single catch came from the middle of the field. Hockenson’s ability to create space to make these throws easier for Kirk Cousins is very good. Giving Kirk a safety blanket in the middle of the field is a huge part of making him feel comfortable in the pocket. If all else fails, he knows he has a big dude right in front of him who can make a play.
Another bonus to his ability to attack the middle of the field is that it opens up shot plays on the sideline as seen above. Hockenson is fast enough to run the post and attack the safety’s leverage. This leaves Dalvin Cook 1v1 on the sideline for the touchdown.
You cannot understate how important this is for the Vikings’ offense.
Hockenson’s Ability to Block Edge Rushers is Critical
One of the more important impacts that Hockenson will have going forward is his ability to block. He is a better blocker than Irv Smith Jr. by a long shot. He might even be better than Johnny Mundt or Ben Ellefson, who are both excellent blockers.
The best part is that it is not just run blocking that he does well. He can hold up in pass protection against excellent edge rushers. Look at this block against Montez Sweat who is no slouch.
With the Vikings having Hockenson as a potential pass protector, they can open up their playbook to some longer-developing plays like this one. Hopefully, this isn’t some sort of fluke and he can replicate these results.
At the end of the day, Hockenson is a massive addition to the Vikings. His impact was felt against the Commanders and will be even more so as the season progresses.
Mitch Massman is a lifelong Vikings fan. His first heartbreak was the 1998 NFC championship game. His full-time job is as an economic development professional in rural Minnesota. He fantasizes about the Vikings winning a Super Bowl one day, but until then he will write about the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter @skol_vikings3
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