Options Emerging at Right Time for Minnesota

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) celebrates a first down reception against Green Bay Packers safety Rudy Ford (20) and cornerback Keisean Nixon (25) during their football game Sunday, October 29, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

Ever since the Minnesota Vikings had to place Justin Jefferson on injured reserve, the offense would face necessary changes. While Kirk Cousins was still under center, leadership would remain, but new faces needed to step up. Now, with Jefferson’s return imminent, Kevin O’Connell has seen more than a few players step up.

Options Emerging at Right Time for Minnesota

Immediately following the placement of Justin Jefferson on injured reserve, the Minnesota Vikings offense had a substantial level of production to replace. Not only did his targets need to be absorbed somewhere, but how he allowed the offense to flow through him was no longer a possibility. The immediate beneficiary would always be Jordan Addison, but there was room for growth elsewhere, too.

Options Emerging
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It may have taken a week or so for Addison to fully acclimate to the lead role, but he has taken that in stride and quickly looked the part of a blossoming star. There have been some highlight reel plays, and he has shown an ability to command attention in an NFL offense. Drawing a shadow corner inJaire Alexander on Sunday, he beat him all over the field.

Without Cousins under center now and needing to provide additional options for rookie Jaren Hall, the passing game has truly appeared to open up.

Starting out the year, veteran tight end T.J. Hockenson got off to a slow start. He had multiple instances of key drops and had failed to haul in passes he would otherwise hang onto. Starting with the San Francisco 49ers win during Monday Night Football, he appeared to find his footing. Hockenson hauled in 11 of 12 targets for 86 yards and followed that up with 88 yards and a score against the Green Bay Packers.

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Inserting a rookie quarterback into the starting lineup, there may be no better security blanket than a high-level tight end. Hockenson is among the best the NFL has to offer, and his ability to get open underneath against linebackers is something that Hall can look to lean on. Whether schemed into the gameplan or used as a fallback option, Hockenson’s presence should make Hall feel much more comfortable during his first start.

Beyond looking for the tight end, Hall can also take solace in the steadiness of K.J. Osborn. Although he had taken a back seat early this season, he proved to be a steadying presence alongside Jordan Addison on Sunday against the Packers. For a single drive, Cousins targeted him almost exclusively, and the wideout finished just a single yard shy of the century mark. Osborn doesn’t do anything flashy but can provide another option outside the top wide receiving pair.

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As Addison has acclimated to his role, he has shown an ability to be open over the middle while taking the top off the defense. The more O’Connell can simplify options for Hall, the better, and having a dynamic playmaker like Addison even while Justin Jefferson is out remains enormous.

It would behoove the Vikings to establish a much greater presence on the ground. The running game has been putrid, and figuring that out would go a long way toward opening up the passing game for the rookie. O’Connell will likely look to shift the amount of throwing Minnesota does in transitioning to a new quarterback, and ground success will only further help Hall hit his open options.

Minnesota having a good stable of offensive weapons is a bonus when breaking in a new signal caller, and although Hall still has an uphill battle on his hands, there’s a blueprint for him to succeed.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.