RGIII is a Vikings Believer
Say what you want about the Minnesota Vikings this season, but they have a 12-3 record. There is no denying they’ve gone about getting there in a rather unconventional way, and the point differential suggests they shouldn’t have as lopsided of a record as they do. Guess what, the win column matters and at least one NFL analyst agrees.
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If you haven’t noticed, former Washington Football Team quarterback Robert Griffin III is no longer on the field. He made a brief cameo for the Baltimore Ravens, but ultimately injury sapped him from being the player that he once looked destined to be. As good as he was on the field, he’ll be hurt less off of it, and may be even better.
The former Baylor Bear standout has transitioned to an analyst role, and he’s been nothing short of amazing. Showing an exceptional ability to be impartial and discuss the game both in the trenches and at a high level, Griffin III looks like an emerging star when it comes to a changing of the guard in the booth. On Tuesday he opined on a trade Minnesota made at the deadline, and he couldn’t be more right.
If there’s something about the deal that first year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah lucked into, it’s that tight end became a need when Irv Smith Jr. hit the sidelines. The Vikings have been waiting for the athleticism to work over the past handful of years, and aside from injury, he’s done little to take advantage of opportunity. Receiver was probably the first plan of action for the Vikings, but this pivot put them in an even better situation.
At the time it could’ve been argued that T.J. Hockenson was less of an addition than he was a replacement. Certainly, he’s a substantially better talent than Smith Jr., but his position on the field was a direct fill-in for the guy Minnesota lost. Still, in grabbing Hockenson rather than a wide receiver, the Vikings targeted a position that needed production rather than one that was ripe with it.
Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks was a name they were highly tied to. From a functionality standpoint, Cooks would’ve lined up similarly to the usage Kevin O’Connell has deployed for K.J. Osborn. Maybe that would’ve stymied the developed of Minnesota’s up and coming wideout, but it would’ve clogged things behind both Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.
In Hockenson, the Vikings acquired a player at a position with multiple functionalities, and he’s among the best in football. Whether Smith Jr. returns healthy this year or not, the Vikings have no question about who is next in line for a payday at the tight end position, and he’s helped the offense as a whole to open up. While Kirk Cousins’ production, and that of a better offensive line, will be credited with helping Jefferson along the way, a focus on Hockenson couldn’t be more overstated.
For a team that knows their deficiency is on the defensive side, Minnesota must continue to score points in bunches. O’Connell landed here because he would get creative in finding ways to allow playmakers opportunities, but he’s only further pushed the envelope as talent has been added to his locker room.
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.