Alexander Mattison Confirms a Suspicion about 2023 Vikings

Vikings Playmaker Listed
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) on the sidelines against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings employ five semi-big-name names at running back, signed a run-blocking tight-end to start free agency, extended fullback C.J. Ham’s contract, and drafted DeWayne McBride in Round 7 last month.

Alexander Mattison Confirms a Suspicion about 2023 Vikings

What do those moves mean to you?

Well, they should suggest the 2023 Vikings have a primary goal on the brain — running the football more in head coach Kevin O’Connell’s second campaign. During his first hurrah, Minnesota ran the ball third least per playcalling percentage, and Minnesota’s time of possession suffered accordingly.

Alexander Mattison
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) celebrates after an NFL International Series game against the New Orleans Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Saints 28-25. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Meanwhile, recently re-signed tailback Alexander Mattison confirmed the plan this week while speaking to That is — the Vikings will run the football more in 2023. It’s a point of emphasis.

Mattison explained, “We all knew the run game was an area of improvement we needed, so coming into this year, there’s more emphasis. Being in Year 1 in this offense, it was something that throughout the process is learning new things, so that’s a year of foundation that we have, can look back on that at what we need to correct and do well, what we don’t do as well and improve. It’s definitely been a little more emphasis.”

for Vikings at Bears
Oct 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) runs with the ball against the Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith (58) in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

In 2022, Minnesota ranked 28th in rushing DVOA, 27th in rushing yards, and 26th in yards per rush attempt — you get the point. The run game never truly felt terrible because the Vikings were ripping off win after win, but compared to the rest of the NFL, handing the ball to halfbacks didn’t work out too well.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah extended Mattison’s contract in March, gluing the 24-year-old to the organization through the end of 2024. If his pal Dalvin Cook is eventually traded or released, an outcome expected by fans and experts, Mattison would be on tap for RB1 duty.

He said about re-signing in Minnesota, “I’m happy. I love it here. I always tell people I wouldn’t rather play anywhere else. It’s just an unbelievable organization, an unbelievable locker room, a team full of amazing guys, amazing coaches and amazing staff, so I’m blessed to be back.”

Starters in 2023
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) walks off the field after the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

The aforementioned tight end addition is Josh Oliver, a veteran from the Baltimore Ravens. Minnesota didn’t have a glaring need at Oliver’s position as it embarked on free agency, but signing the former Raven was a smoking-gun moment, hinting the franchise will showcase much-needed balanced playcalling this September.

And from a primary source — the odds-on favorite to take the first regular season hand-off of 2023 — the plan is confirmed. The Vikings will run the ball more in 2023, probably to set up the pass, which is what winning football teams do.

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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