One Young Viking Has a Golden Opportunity Sunday Night

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The time is now. Next man up. Do or die. Now or never. Seize the day. Fortune favors the bold.

Choose your favorite cliché.

One Young Viking Has a Golden Opportunity Sunday Night

All apply to Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler, a young playmaker tentatively on tap to start this Sunday night at the Denver Broncos. Incumbent RB1 Alexander Mattison was concussed during a win over the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, and all signs point to an RB1 gig for Chandler, at least temporarily.

Viking Has a Golden
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Chandler has produced 130 yards from scrimmage on 28 touches (4.6 yards per touch) in 2023, so it’s not like the man is making his NFL debut. But he does have a golden opportunity to harpoon the RB1 job from Mattison and not relinquish.

Why? Well, Mattison has not performed to a serviceable RB1 standard in 2023. The Vikings re-signed Mattison last March after Dalvin Cook was diagnosed as no longer in the team’s long-term plans. Mattison is a locker-room leader and a fabulous human being, and most fans agreed with bringing the 25-year-old back for two years.

However, Mattison averages just 3.5 yards per rush in 2023, a figure virtually any professional running back can produce on a bad day. Too, when any other Vikings halfback enters a game to give Mattison a breather, that man appears to outperform Mattison to the naked eye.

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So, what does Chandler have that Mattison does not? The answer is quite straightforward. Speed, burst, and upside. He ran a 4.38 forty-yard dash at the 2022 NFL Combine. Mattison ran a 4.57 forty-time in 2019, which is akin to tight end speed.

To put it bluntly — Chandler is fast, and Mattison is not. Speed isn’t everything in football, but it doesn’t hurt.

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Of course, Chandler could draw Sunday night’s assignment and flop. It happens. Then, Minnesota would re-shift to Mattison when he exits the NFL’s concussion protocol and hope for some degree of rejuvenation. The Vikings also employ three more running backs: Kene Nwangwu, Myles Gaskin, and rookie DeWayne McBride. None are guaranteed commodities or high-profile runners, but each has a profitable skillset that Kevin O’Connell could utilize on Sundays.

The goal would be for Chandler to shine because, let’s face it, this is how it works. Josh Dobbs serendipitously took over for Kirk Cousins a week and a half ago. Rookie Ivan Pace seized the moment this summer at Vikings training camp. It often takes odd twists of fate for athletes to get their Eminem-style one shot.

This is Chandler’s.

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Minnesota ranks 26th leaguewide per rushing DVOA through 10 games.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by