Kevin O’Connell Hints at Requested Change

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Parting ways with Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook was one of the major moves in the new regime’s second offseason. Their analytical approach pushed them toward pursuing a committee at running back with multiple cheaper players instead of putting all chips on one workhorse runner. The results haven’t been as good as desired.

Kevin O’Connell Hints at Requested Change

hints at requested
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Alexander Mattison was scheduled to be a free agent but received the nod as the new top running back on the depth chart. Signing a two-year, almost fully guaranteed deal, he was finally elevated from backup to starter.

Looking forward to that kind of opportunity, Mattison talked about his chance in August:

Just really understanding what the opportunity I have in front of me is, just understanding that I’m going to go into this season preparing like a pro and just getting ready for a heavy workload, being the bell cow, and just bringing that downhill fast and physical run style, and just trying to bring that within the running back room, just to be the legs of this football team.

He, indeed, was a bellcow running back for the majority of the season, although the Vikings have tried to bring in help by adding Cam Akers to the team after a couple of games. Akers’ role slowly grew before he suffered a season-ending injury. Since then, a new threat to Mattison’s throne has emerged.

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Sophomore Ty Chandler brings a totally different skill set to the table, as he has the requisite speed to pull off game-changing plays, something that has never been Mattison’s strength. Because of that exciting pace and the continued struggles in the running game, fans of the purple team have asked for a change at the halfback position.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell has been a big supporter of his veteran running back, but Chandler’s wonderful performance in Cincinnati may have changed his mind. He was asked about Mattison’s recovery status after missing a game with an ankle injury, and he hinted at a potential change.

Alex is doing better and better. Hopefully, we get him a little bit more work and see if we can possibly have him available this weekend. I know Ty is coming off of a great performance and (I’m) feeling more and more confident and we’re building with the mindset that Ty is gonna be a guy we’re trying to get the ball to a lot both in the run and pass and then if we can have Alex, that’s going to be a huge bonus for the depth and kind of making sure to have our full group available.

Kevin O’Connell
Vikings Begin Week
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There are three significant things to decipher in that statement. Mattison could be back on the field, but his status is in question. Either way, Chandler should be expected to play a major role on offense, and the coaching staff wants the ball in his hands.

Also really interesting is that he mentioned that getting Mattison back would be good for the depth of the position rather than increasing the production. He showed incredible loyalty to Mattison, to the point where the fanbase has started to turn on the coach for not giving Chandler more reps.

Monitor Key Offensive
Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) dives for the end zone as Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) and Cincinnati Bengals safety Dax Hill (23) defend in the first quarter of a Week 15 NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

After Saturday’s display in Cincinnati with 132 rushing yards, it surely is time to feature Chandler as a staple of his offense, regardless of Mattison’s injury status. He gives the group a dynamic note, something they have been missing sans Cook. Chandler has proven that he can carry a bigger workload and has shown that he is the best runner on the team.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt