Vikings OC Has Big Plans for One Viking

Vikings Need a WR2
Wes Phillips

The 2023 Minnesota Vikings will showcase the same offensive coordinator in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2016-2017.

He’s Wes Phillips, and he spoke to reporters Thursday at Vikings training camp in Eagan.

Vikings OC Has Big Plans for One Viking

Among various items, including praise for left tackle Christian Darrisaw, Phillips is particularly high on running back Alexander Mattison.

Vikings OC Has Big
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Minnesota re-signed Mattison for two years and $7 million in March and later parted ways with Dalvin Cook, who remains a free agent as of July 26th. Per the team’s current depth chart and musings from head coach Kevin O’Connell all offseason, Mattison is on deck to fill RB1 duties for the first time in the NFL.

Phillips opined about his offense and Mattison in particular, “I think we’re going to see a lot of good things that maybe people didn’t realize how good a player Alex Mattison really is.”

Vikings Coach Says
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At mandatory minicamp in June, O’Connell spoke similarly of Mattison, “I feel really good about our running back room and Alex Mattison is a huge reason why. I think he’s proven that he can, whether over the past few years when he stepped in there, handling a really good workload and producing and also just in our short term together, his ability to handle the roles and responsibilities of that position in our offense, so I feel great about where Alex is at.”

The Vikings also employ three other intriguing running backs if O’Connell and Phillips opt for a committee approach — Ty Chandler, Kene Nwangwu, and DeWayne McBride.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

In 2022, Minnesota ranked 28th in rushing DVOA, 27th in rushing yards, and 26th in yards per rush attempt — not ideal. 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. The team has affirmed all offseason its commitment to running the rock more frequently, from O’Connell down to Mattison.

Mattison said in May, “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.”

Youngest Offseason
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Mattison has tabulated 1,670 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in four seasons, chipping in 70 catches for 526 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, too. Yet, he’s never explicitly been labeled ‘the guy’ at RB for Minnesota, instead always supporting the aforementioned Cook in an RB2 role. This season will mark his first stint as the RB1, and Vikings fans will soon learn if the bellcow nature of the last 16 seasons, which included dynamic performances from Adrian Peterson and Cook, continues.

And according to Phillips, Mattison has a reasonable shot at carrying most of the rushing load.

Mattison turned 25 last month and is younger than teammates Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu.


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 OverTheCap.com.

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