Numbers Say TJ Hockenson Extension Paying Dividends; Eye Test Says Different

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

TJ Hockenson sat out of training camp and the preseason, with what he claimed was an ear infection turned sore neck. In reality, he was holding in for a new contract, which he got about a week before the Minnesota Vikings first game of the season.

TJ Hockenson butterfingers cost Minnesota Vikings a win (again)

But now, the Vikings are 1-4 and their most recent loss, which came in the form of a 27-20 failed comeback against defending Super Bowl Champion, the Kansas City Chiefs. And, without a doubt, Hockenson deserves a large chuck of blame pie.

Related: 2023 Vikings Offensive Line Very Underappreciated Through 4 Weeks

He led the team in drops (3) and that number feels generous. Big moment after big moment, Hockenson’s butterfingers stalled drives and broke hearts. No, the passes weren’t perfect. But passes shouldn’t have to be perfect if the guy who’s being targeted is one of the highest paid players in the NFL, at his position.

This isn’t the first time TJ Hockenson’s slippery fingers have cost the Vikings. Two weeks ago, they lost when a necessary bullet from Kirk Cousins bounced off his hands and into the arms of a Detroit Lions defender. That’s not the only time a 2023 Cousins INT hit Hockenson’s hands before landing in the arms of an opponent.

Numbers tell a different story…

But if you look at fantasy football rankings each week or check the tight end statistical leaders through 5 weeks, you’ll find TJ Hockenson near the top of every single category, including receptions, yards and touchdowns.

Related: Two Key Wins in 2023 Would Make Kirk Cousins the 5th QB in NFL History to Defeat All 32 Teams

After week 5, Hockenson sits 1st among tight ends in receptions (30), 3rd in receiving yards (254) and tied for 2nd in touchdowns (2). But these stats are a bit inflated because so much of the Vikings offense is geared toward getting TJ the ball.

Top paid tight ends, like Travis Kelce for example, leave the game for what looks like a serious high ankle sprain, just to come back in and make game-saving 3rd down catches like this.

Yes, he leads tight ends in receptions… but he also leads the position in targets and plays in the most pass-happy team in league history. When you’re one of the highest paid tight ends in the league and you get as many opportunities as Hock does, you need to do more than produce hollow statistics.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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