Can the Real Ty Chandler Please Step Up?

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.

On Sunday, when the Vikings take on the Green Bay Packers, they will do so with another change at the quarterback position. However, Ty Chandler should remain the starting running back, and a better gameplan could be the key to getting him going.

Can the Real Ty Chandler Please Step Up?

A week ago, Kevin O’Connell drew up just ten rushing plays. While he has basically abandoned that aspect of football this year, Alexander Mattison has given him little reason to reconsider. Brought in as the unquestioned starter following the departure of Dalvin Cook, Mattison routinely left plenty to be desired every week.

With Mattison hurt and unavailable against the Cincinnati Bengals, it was Ty Chandler who drew the start and did all of the heavy lifting. He turned in a 132-yard performance on 23 carries and found paydirt. The 5.7 yards per carry were impressive on their own, and adding 25 yards on three receptions showed his versatility. Nick Mullens ultimately threw away the game, but the rushing woes appeared to have been solved.

Please Step Up
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

Against the Detroit Lions, who do defend the run well, O’Connell essentially abandoned the ground game from the jump. Chandler wasn’t efficient but only got eight sporadic carries to get anything going. While Mullens continued to chuck the ball up for grabs through the air, Chandler was left underutilized, and Minnesota fell in a contest they were in position to win.

Despite the playoffs largely being off the table, finding out to what level Chandler can be trusted in the year ahead is a must. Paying for Cook would never make sense this season, and he’s proven that was a good move in his exploits with the New York Jets. Mattison wasn’t the answer, though, and Chandler can stake his claim to be the guy going forward. Most teams don’t employ a single back at this point, but having someone reliable is a must.

the Ty Chandler
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Chandler will enter his third season in the league next year, and being able to put a stamp on his 2023 with strong performances against the Packers and Detroit Lions would be nice to see. The Packers are hardly a defensive stalwart team, and a second battle with the Lions gives everyone involved with the Minnesota coach staff a chance to right their wrongs from a week ago.

For most of the season, Chandler has flashed high excitement when looking at his production on a per-play basis. If he can continue flashing those abilities, there is less need to find a veteran to pair him with a season from now. Minnesota will continue to be relatively cap-strapped if they retain Kirk Cousins, and spending less on his weapons would go a long way toward putting together a complete team around him.

Tabs Unlikely
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

It took entirely too long for O’Connell to make the change at the running back position, but now that he has, there is no reason not to give him every opportunity to show off the full complement of his abilities.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.