Will Kevin O’Connell Ever Run the Ball?

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The Minnesota Vikings came up short on a comeback attempt against the Detroit Vikings Sunday afternoon, but a single section of the stat sheet looked completely out of sorts. Will Kevin O’Connell ever run the ball?

Will Kevin O’Connell Ever Run the Ball?

With Alexander Mattison sidelined due to an injury a week ago, Ty Chandler got his first chance to work as the unquestioned lead running back. He put up the Vikings’ first 100-yard performance since Dalvin Cook last November, and the new wrinkle for the offense looked to have been created.

Connell Ever Run
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The problem is that no Vikings team under head coach Kevin O’Connell has ever had a reliable running game, and it seemed the head coach was destined to remind us of that on Sunday. Running the ball just 10 times in the game (excluding Nick Mullens’ one-yard run as he could not find an open receiver), Minnesota never gave themselves to establish unpredictability on offense.

Chandler didn’t have the same success he saw a week ago. as he carried the rock eight times for only 17 yards. However, he was also given no chance to establish any sort of rhythm. While Detroit absolutely dominated the time of possession, it may have benefitted Minnesota to chew clock with the ground game and give their defense a bit of rest. Mattison was back this week, and his two carries resulted in a single negative yard, further cementing little reason for him to earn his role back.

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It was a common complaint for Mike Zimmer’s offenses that the Vikings were far too predictable. His desire to run, even while having Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson, was less than ideal at best. That said, there was never a total abandonment of the ground game, which O’Connell has allowed to happen routinely.

You can certainly make the argument that Minnesota doesn’t have enough options when it comes to ball carriers. While Chandler did have his breakout game, it hardly suggests that he’s continually capable of that type of performance. That being said, continuing to give full workloads to Mattison hasn’t worked all season, and avoiding that part of the game entirely on Sunday was never going to be fruitful.

Detroit doesn’t have a stellar pass defense, and that was evident with Mullens throwing for over 400 yards despite looking awful and adding four picks to his stat sheet. Even with the defense giving up chunk yards through the air, denying your backs touches entirely didn’t do the Vikings any favors.

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One would hope that the running game will be much more present in Lambeau next week, but there are no givens when trying to guess how that may play out. Chandler was announced as the starter on Sunday and should continue as such, but it doesn’t matter if that part of the gameplan will be ignored anyway.

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.