What if Vikings RBs Turn into Grand ‘Ol Committee?
A few unfortunate Minnesota Vikings events are destined to occur each season. Extra points will be missed for some godforsaken reason, the offensive line’s pass protection will capitulate — and Dalvin Cook will get hurt for at least a few games.
If the latter is on the docket again for 2022, the Vikings could evolve into a Los Angeles Rams-like RB-by-committee system. Why? The team’s new skipper, Kevin O’Connell, made a name for himself under Sean McVay in Los Angeles. Together, O’Connell and McVay won a Super Bowl in February over the upstart Cincinnati Bengals. Their plan worked.
And in doing so, the Rams had to navigate the 2021 championship season mostly without RB1 Cam Akers. He was injured before the season began, and Darrell Henderson plus Sony Michel took control of Akers’ workload.
Should Cook miss more than a few games, you can bet a reasonable sum of cash on Minnesota following the 2021 Rams model.
Alexander Mattison is a decent RB2, filling in for Cook admirably with a different style. Mattison is more of a battering ram than Cook, although Cook doesn’t shy from contact. Mattison rarely “slashes” like Cook, instead bulling defenders over — if he decides not to hurdle them.
Mattison would lead the theoretical committee.
Then, second-year speed goblin, Kene Nwangwu, is the next man up on the depth chart. It is unclear if he’ll develop into a bellcow-type back — probably not — but he’s faster than sound, and the new offensive-minded coach will relish the speed. There’s always room for blunt-force speed in sports, especially in the NFL — on offense. O’Connell could use Nwangwu as a pass-catching back while Mattison “runs it up the gut.”
Let’s not forget that new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah drafted a rookie running back, too. That’s Ty Chandler, a 24-year-old runner from the University of North Carolina. He’s unthinkably older than Mattison, and Mattison has played in three full NFL seasons to Chandler’s zero. Why does age matter? Well, if Adofo-Mensah, considered an unusually bright mind drafted an “old” running back with 5th-Round draft capital, an imminent plan likely exists to use him sooner than later. This is why some Vikings fans have forecasted Mattison as a roster casualty — with Chandler quitely nipping at his heels.
Chandler doesn’t have Nwangwu’s speed — most people don’t — but he’s more of an actual running back than Nwangwu. Nwangwu is a Bugatti that returned two special touchdowns as a rookie. Chandler is a “typical” running back who might end up with an RB1 job in the next few years.
Three men not named Cook with three different styles; that is how a committee could blend in substitution of Cook if the situation arises.
Remember, the Vikings won’t play “Zimmer Ball” anymore. Bellcow City cannot be found on the map in Minnesota. A committee is feasible if the expensive running back, Cook, becomes unavailable. Just peek at the 2021 Rams.
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).