It’s the Ty Chandler Game

Made a Statement
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

After it was revealed that Alexander Mattison would miss Saturday’s contest against the Cincinnati Bengals, it became apparent that Ty Chandler would finally get his chance. Now, it’s up to the backup to show what he can do.

It’s the Ty Chandler Game

Drafted in the fifth round out of North Carolina, the former Tar Heel was given just six carries during his rookie season. With Dalvin Cook out of the picture this year, it stood to reason that Chandler would see more run with Alexander Mattison operating as the lead back. Despite Mattison struggling to establish himself consistently, Chandler has yet to be unleashed.

the Ty Chandler
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Last week against the Las Vegas Raiders, Mattison was in the midst of arguably his best game of the season. Breaking off productive runs and hitting holes with a purpose, it was unfortunate to see him go down with an ankle injury. The Vikings’ offense couldn’t get anything going, and even when Chandler did take over, the eventual outcome still resulted in just a 3-0 victory.

Now, with a full week to prepare and Nick Mullens inserted as the quarterback, Chandler will be expected to carry the load. At no point since taking over as the head coach of the Vikings has Kevin O’Connell been a master of the running game. Despite having an offensive line ideally constructed to establish a ground game, the air attack has been the focal point. O’Connell’s squad will be without starting right tackle Brian O’Neill this weekend as well, but Chandler can look to change the tide.

Averaging 4.1 yards per carry this season, Chandler has toted the rock 49 times. He also presents an option in the passing game out of the backfield and has a bit more burst than the larger Mattison. A key to watch will be just how much of an impact Chandler can make in pass protection, as that is where Mattison has substantially separated himself from the younger back.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Over the past four games, Chandler has gotten double-digit carries three times. He should be expected to see a career-high on Saturday, and the yardage total he’ll be looking to surpass is the 73 he accumulated on the road against the Denver Broncos. The Vikings have yet to have a 100-yard rusher this season, and Chandler could become the first since November 13 last year, when Cook did so in an overtime contest with the Buffalo Bills.

The Bengals have given up the ninth-most rushing yards across the NFL this season, with only the Bills and Giants allowing a higher yards per carry. That bodes well for Chandler and enables him to make an impact during his first career start. While O’Connell will unquestionably be looking to get his star wide receiver Justin Jefferson involved, making the game easier for Mullens under center could come through a balanced attack.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

For weeks, it has seemed like sprinkling in a higher dosage of Chandler makes a good deal of sense. That never happened, but with Mattison completely unavailable, we will soon see how effective his backup can be.

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.