Well, the Vikings Now Have a 2×4.

Well, the Vikings Now Have a 2x4.
Jul 30, 2021; Eagan, MN, United States; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) and running back Alexander Mattison. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The NFL relaxed regulations on player jersey number preference in 2021, and now Minnesota Vikings players are capitalizing.

You’ll have to buy new jerseys of men like Cameron Dantzler (27) and Camryn Bynum (43) if you’ve got them, as those two defensive backs switched to numbers 3 and 24, respectively. But the “Cam” apparel doesn’t sell like hotcakes, so you should be fine.

The running backs, on the other hand, are a different story. Switching from numbers 25 and 33, the Vikings now have a 2×4, awarding #2 to Alexander Mattison and #4 to Dalvin Cook.

Alexander Mattison and Dalvin Cook
Alexander Mattison and Dalvin Cook

Cook entertained changing to his collegiate #4 last year, but the cost of buying out his existing #33 lot was reportedly too hefty for a common-sense swap. So, Cook waited.

And Mattison joined him in single-number heaven. It is unclear where Mattison’s preference for #2 was born as the halfback work #22 at Boise State. But it does fit neatly with the trend of swapping jerseys for single-digits.

Opponents will receive a healthy dose of Cook and Mattison in 2022 — per usual — as the combination is again slated for RB1 and RB2 duty. Cook is the fourth-highest-paid Vikings player on the roster in 2022, so he will assuredly receive oodles of touches.

In the last three total seasons, Cook ranks second leaguewide per yards from scrimmage with 4,955. He trails the leader, Derrick Henry, by just 23 yards. And Henry has played two more games than Cook since 2019.

Even in a pass-happier Vikings offense led by new head coach Kevin O’Connell, Cook will command attention. By default, Cook was handed the ball ad nauseam with Mike Zimmer in charge. Yet, even with the O’Connell pivot, Cook will be showcased like a true-blue RB1 — unless the team strangely decides not to recognize his skillset.

Keys Vikings Lions Game
Oct 10, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

For Mattison, he enters the final year of his contract, likely to hit free agency in 2023. He’ll want to make an impact for suitor teams next spring. Plus, almost like clockwork, Cook generally misses a few games, and that figures to afford Mattison some customary playing time. Aside from one or two infamous gaffes by Mattison, the drop-off from him to Cook in Vikings games isn’t too vast.

In 2021, Minnesota ranked 17th in the NFL in rushing yards, a smaller mark than forecasted for a run-first offense. With O’Connell’s system, the run will set up the pass, as was on display for the 2021 Los Angeles Rams, a team that also won a Super Bowl.

Finally, to hedge the bet on Cook and Mattison, the Vikings drafted tailback Ty Chandler from North Carolina from the 5th Round in April. If the long-term plan doesn’t involve the 2×4, Chandler will become the next man up, per the depth chart in May.

The Vikings take on the Green Bay Packers to open the 2022 regular season at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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 Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

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