The Vikings Have a “Hands” Problem

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

It probably wasn’t on Minnesota Vikings fans’ list of grievances heading into the 2023 season, but it’s in living color as of mid-October.

Vikings playmakers have a “hands” problem, with the only prognosis of hoping it vanishes.

The Vikings Have a “Hands” Problem

Minnesota has lost the most fumbles (9) in the NFL through Week 6, is tied for most fumbles per game (2.2) in general with the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars, and is suddenly plagued by drops of the pass-catching variety.

Hands
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Thankfully for the team’s sake, it won at Soldier Field last weekend, dragging its record to 2-4 and just one game out of the NFC’s playoff picture. Sometimes, fumbles and drops simply disappear, and the Vikings will hope that occurs from here on out. We shall see.

Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer illuminated the Vikings hands woes Tuesday on the X app, “The Vikings’ hands problem: a league-worst 17 drops in six games as tracked by PFF, which didn’t count Addison’s self-described drop in Chicago on Sunday. They’ve got five (six?) more drops than any other team, and a league-worst nine lost fumbles.”

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Stathead differs from the Pro Football Focus count, ranking the Kansas City Chiefs dead last in drops with 16 while the Vikings inconveniently rank 29th with 13. No matter how one dices it, the drops arrived suddenly in the last two weeks and arguably cost the Vikings the game at home versus the Kansas City Chiefs.

Here’s a simple way to think of it:

Vikings Rankings,
Thru Week 6 of 2023:

Fumbles: 30th
Fumbles Lost: 32nd
PFF Drops: 32nd
Stathead Drops: 29th

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports.

Before the Vikings win over the Bears, head coach Kevin O’Connell said about the fumble epidemic, “We will continue to emphasize ball security. I thought there could have been a little bit more of an offhand cover there in traffic and that’s what we emphasize, what we’re coaching. But clearly, it’s going to be something that even if you just have one, even on the first play of the game, you look up there at the end and you just wonder, what if — knowing the kind of rhythm we had on offense there in the first half to at least drive and potentially get points every time we had it.”

So, the man is keenly aware of the malfeasance and probably believes it is the one item separating Minnesota from a winning record. Yet, like the mantra has suggested for a few weeks: the Vikings actually have to fix the fumbles and drops to get it right.

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s also deflating that the Vikings have mostly fixed the fumble bug — “only” one lost fumble in the last two games — but then the WR and RB drops arrived. Some fans will insist, “Because, of course, that would happen.”

And, for reference, the Vikings will hope to fix the fumble and drop maladies on the fly — without Justin Jefferson for the next three games and versus the NFL’s best team under the bright lights of primetime.

O’Connell also said after the win over Chicago, “Our best game is still out there.”

That best game likely involves no fumbles and little or no drops. If those criteria are present next week, the Vikings could actually defeat San Francisco.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.