A hint that the Vikings offense will adjust its strategy

A team doesn’t spend top dollar on a pair of tight ends unless it was slated to play a pair of tight ends. Indeed, the Vikings offense will feature both TJ Hockenson and Josh Oliver. they will join forces to (hopefully) give the Vikings a dynamic duo.

Part of the appeal of leaning on these two players is that it allows Minnesota to be unpredictable. Hawkenson is 6’5″, 248 pounds, and Oliver is an almost identical 6’5″, 249 pounds. In other words, each of them has a huge size and length. Both will be difficult for DBs to match up against in coverage. Both have the size to make their presence felt as blockers.

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February 4, 2023; Paradise, NV, USA; NFC tight end TJ Hockenson of the Minnesota Vikings (87) during practice at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Each will probably have a primary role. Hockensen will do most of the pass catching, Oliver will do most of the blocking.

However, their roles are multifaceted by definition. When they are on the field, the Vikings can use their size to clear running lanes or their size to pick out a mismatched DB on a jump ball. Hockenson can burn it when Oliver stays behind to help lose the DE. Oliver can run a pass route as Hockenson hits the pass rusher on the way to the flats.

Kevin O’Connell is going to have options, which is what the head coach wants.

It didn’t take long for Vikings Twitter to start scoring on the implications of the deal. Ben Leber, who played quarterback for Minnesota from 2006-2010, noted that the team will likely rely more on 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE);

There were similar comments SI’s Will Ragatz, Vikings WireTyler Fornesand: Purple PTSDJosh Frey said:

“Josh Oliver wasn’t necessarily on my bingo card for the Vikings, but Minnesota has struggled to find consistent blocking ability at tight end for a while. As long as they’re healthy, the pairing of Hawkenson and Oliver should change that.”

Frey continues in his article discussing the move, noting the success of the young TE; “With Baltimore, he blossomed into one of the better tight ends in the entire NFL and played 31 games between 2021 and 2022 while making 10 starts. time In two seasons with the Ravens, he caught 25 passes for 215 yards and a pair of touchdowns. 14 receptions, 149 yards, and two TDs came during the 2022 season.”

NFL.  Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars
November 27, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Josh Oliver (84) hits the ball after scoring against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

He partnered with Mark Andrews in Baltimore, so Oliver knows what it’s like to play with a high-end receiving option at the other TE spot.

Hockenson had 614 tackles last season, 286 tackles downfield and 136 wideouts. Oliver, on the other hand, had 440 tackles, 71 in the hole, 41 out wide, 8 in the back and 1 in the forward line. Obviously, the new addition comes from a different offense, so we can’t draw too very firm conclusions from these numbers, but the hint is that we will see a lot of Hawkenson down and wide. Sometimes, Oliver will get out there as well, but there’s a good chance he’s a consistent blocking buddy for OTs.

Relying on 12 crews can also have another overlooked benefit: managing the clock. In 2022, the Vikings defense was terrible, averaging 25.1 points per game. Playing defense becomes significantly easier when your own offense gets the first downs.

March 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

An offensive strategy that leans into the bigger bodies of multiple tight ends is one that lends itself well to staying on the field while consistently picking up first downs. Of course, the Vikings will still play deep, but the 12 personnel seems better suited to attack the short and intermediate areas of the field. We’ll see if Kevin O’Connell and the Vikings agree.

That’s the beauty, people. we can be reasonably sure that the addition of Oliver means we’ll be seeing a lot of him on the field with Hawkenson. However, the way O’Connell installs those tight ends remains a mystery (even if we have some educated guesses).

Offensive strategy continues to evolve. Ideally, that means we’ll see an even stronger attack come September.

Editor’s Note: Information: Pro Football Reference:, PFF:and: Over the hat helped with this piece.

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