Kevin O'Connell Hints at Potential of Dual-Wielding Tight Ends

Kevin O’Connell Hints at Potential of Dual-Wielding Tight Ends

Oct 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Whether you believe the Minnesota Vikings run to 10-2 is a fluke or not, one thing is apparent through the first 13 weeks of the season. The Vikings need to find more consistency on the offensive side of the ball.

Currently, Minnesota sits outside the top 10 in the league in scoring, averaging 24.1 points per game. This puts them at 11th in the NFL, and an offense with stars at running back, wide receiver, tackle positions, and an above average quarterback in Kirk Cousins, that just isn’t good enough.

Some have pointed to a potential acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr. as a way to cure these problems. However, during a press conference this week, head coach Kevin O’Connell hints at another potential spark to boost the Vikings offense. That spark comes in the form of tight end Irv Smith Jr.

Smith has been out since Week 8 when he suffered a high ankle sprain against the Arizona Cardinals. The injury was expected to hold the tight end out for anywhere from 6-10 weeks, placing a potential return anywhere from Weeks 15-18 if this timetable was correct.

After the injury occurred, the Vikings obviously went out and made the trade to acquire T.J. Hockenson from the Detroit Lions, giving them a bonafide top-10 player at the tight end position. Since then, Hockenson has fit into the Vikings offense beautifully, catching 30 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown in his first five games with the team.

Because of this, the question may be this: what would the Minnesota Vikings do with two tight ends in their offense? Well, the simple answer may be that they don’t use two tight ends. Irv Smith has always been known for his WR-esque skillset rather than attributes like blocking and size that are typically attributed to tight ends.

So, maybe the plan for the fourth-year Viking would be to use him essentially as a WR3 rather than a tight end. Hockenson is bigger and provides much more in terms of blocking than Smith does, so utilizing Smith’s speed and route-running ability as a larger wide receiver could still provide some value to the Vikings offense.

Obviously, we are still a long way down the road from this being a possibility. There are no imminent signs other than O’Connell’s comments that Smith could be coming back. Either way, it’s an interesting thought process to consider how the pending free agent would fit into this Minnesota Vikings offense down the stretch of the season.

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Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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