NFL Analyst Makes Bizarre Claim about T.J. Hockenson

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson will likely miss the start of the 2024 season while still recovering from an ACL tear he suffered last December.

NFL Analyst Makes Bizarre Claim about T.J. Hockenson

The prolific pass-catcher might even visit the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, an outcome that would sideline Hockenson for six games. And according to Pro Football Network, that makes him a prime candidate for regression. The site also falsely claimed that Hockenson struggled in 2023 without Kirk Cousins in the lineup.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

“The Minnesota Vikings are seemingly embracing a rebuild following the departure of former starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. Once Cousins went down for the Vikings last season, T.J. Hockenson didn’t have a ton of success,” PFN’s Anthony DiBona wrote this week. “Hockenson eclipsed the 70-yard receiving mark just once after the veteran QB was injured while surpassing that total three times in Cousins’ eight starts. Now Hockenson will be forced to move on with Sam Darnold and J.J. McCarthy splitting time.”

There’s a lot going on here, but the first Captain Obvious nugget is that, of course, Hockenson’s production would slide if he misses the first several games due to the ACL tear. It would be akin to claiming Kyler Murray regressed in 2023 because he didn’t return until midseason.

t.j. hockenson
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Secondarily, DiBona assigned his personal 70-yard litmus test. No one really knows how or why that’s the Holy Grail of efficiency. PurplePTSD‘s Janik Eckardt tweeted about Hockenson’s production sans Cousins in 2023, and it didn’t entail tremendous struggles.

Tabulating 1,171 receiving yards, as scaled by Eckardt, without Cousins cannot reasonably be called problematic by any football fan or pundit with a head on her shoulders. In fact, 1,171 yards is pretty damn noteworthy.

Kirk Cousins Evidently
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling opined on Hockenson’s injury recovery in May before minicamp, preparing the masses for a post-Week 6 return. “Because I would imagine T.J. Hockenson is on the PUP list through 6 weeks. Week 6 bye is conveniently timed here. And then, oh, look who’s on the schedule Week 7. Lions. His old buddy, Kerby Joseph,” Goessling said on the Access Vikings about six weeks ago, the last update on Hockenson’s return.

If Hockenson isn’t available in September, Minnesota will fill his aerial targets with an assortment of Josh Oliver, Robert Tonyan, and Johnny Mundt. The Vikings aren’t lacking bodies in the TE room, with eight on the roster as of mid-July.

Vikings Depth Chart, Week 13 vs. Jets
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Other regression candidates mentioned by PFN? D.J. Moore (WR, Chicago Bears), Nico Collins (WR, Houston Texans), and Rashee Rice (WR, Kansas City Chiefs), among others.

On the whole, if 2023 was a decent indicator, Hockenson should be just fine without Cousins, who now plays for the Atlanta Falcons, despite the PFN theories.

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