Kevin O’Connell Wanted to Give 1 Guy Touches

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The first week of football is over for the Minnesota Vikings, and the standings show the Vikings at 0-1, although that loss will be gone once Week 1 rolls around. Some players excelled despite the defeat. One of them was linebacker Ivan Pace who continues to make plays for the purple team. First-rounder Jordan Addison also looked like a fantastic addition to the roster.

Kevin O’Connell Wanted to Give 1 Guy Touches

 Wanted to Give 1 Guy Touches
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Another one of the winners of the preseason contest was running back Ty Chandler, the second-year standout. He starred in last year’s preseason and repeated that success in the meeting with Pete Carroll’s Seahawks.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell was pleased with the 25-year-old and had some praise for him after the game:

I really wanted to see Ty and see what he can handle as far as all phases of our offense and as I was calling plays for him. here and there in the first half, I found myself wanting to get him touches and that is always a good thing.

And just his ability to see it in live game action, his vision, his burst, his finish, it all showed up, and then his ability out of the backfield either on a screen to even get four or five on a screen that wasn’t well executed – he’s making things happen. So when we clean up our execution around him, you can start projecting his impact. So really positive night for him.

Kevin O’Connell

That is usually a good sign if the head coach is happy with a player and wants to see more of him. Chandler had a fantastic day in various aspects. Kene Nwangwu didn’t play, so he couldn’t generate any positive plays to challenge Chandler for the RB2 job, and rookie DeWayne McBride looked like an inferior player. He was much less dynamic.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

Chandler’s final stat line displayed 11 carries for 41 yards and 4 catches for 29 yards, showing his ability to make things happen as a receiver. He bailed out quarterback Nick Mullens a few times as a checkdown target when the QB was under duress.

But those stats don’t even show how well he played because the offensive line has a large impact on the numbers of a running back. Warren Sharp made a fantastic tweet showing numbers that prove Chandler’s great play:

“Adding more context to what Ty Chandler did last night:
He faced loaded boxes on 91% of his runs
As a result, 55% of his runs he was contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage
he *still* averaged 3.0 yards after contact
also caught all 4 of his targets

Indeed, impressive. The Seahawks made it a point of emphasis to stop the running game, apparently fearing Chandler more than Mullens throwing to Jordan Addison and Jalen Regaor, although that passing attack gave them all kinds of problems.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Generating 3 yards after contact per run is an outstanding feat. Tony Pollard led the league last year with 2.6 yards after contact per run. Dalvin Cook had 1.8 and Alexander Mattison 1.5. Chandler also showcased his ability to bounce off tackles last year in limited action in the preseason.

While he was stuck on the depth chart behind Cook and Mattison, he has positioned himself as the clear favorite to win the RB2 duties as Mattison’s top backup. He brings a different playing style to the table, as he is a speedster, while Mattison is a powerful runner.

There are enough carries and targets for both of them, and he can help the offense. A problem, however, would be if the Vikings decided to add another running back. They hosted Kareem Hunt for a visit. His arrival would be bad news for Chandler, who has earned the right to get touches in the regular season.

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