Ty Chandler Made a Statement in Round 2

PurplePTSD: Decision Nears on Chandler, Underdogs yet Again, Pack Allegedly Back
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Throughout the 2023 regular season, Kevin O’Connell continued to give chance after chance to starting running back Alexander Mattison. With Dalvin Cook departed, the former backup had a seemingly endless leash. After finally getting some run, Ty Chandler looked to be the guy and made something of a statement in Week 18.

Ty Chandler Made a Statement in Round 2

Despite Alexander Mattison failing to capitalize on the opportunity handed to him after Minnesota moved on from Dalvin Cook, the Vikings head coach couldn’t bring himself to make a change. It seemed as though the Minnesota running game was stagnant and a problem for most of the year, and even when Cam Akers stepped up early, it took plenty to get him more reps.

Made a Statement
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After injuries started to impact the running back room, as with most of the positional groups, Ty Chandler continued to inch his way up the depth chart. He didn’t get real touches until Week 10 when he recorded 15, and he drew his first start during Week 15 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

That game against Jake Browning in Cincinnati was more than a coming-out party for the former Tar Heels runner. Chandler carried the rock 23 times and tallied 132 yards on the ground. It was the Vikings’ first 100-yard game in more than a year, and there was a new running back forcing the hand of the head coach.

Then came the Detroit Lions, and O’Connell completely abandoned the run. Although the Vikings failed to establish any semblance of consistency on offense, it was a game that Minnesota needed to possess the ball. Nick Mullens put up plenty of yards through the air, but his four interceptions gave the opposition more chances.

Monitor Key Offensive
Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) dives for the end zone as Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) and Cincinnati Bengals safety Dax Hill (23) defend in the first quarter of a Week 15 NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Chandler carried the ball only eight times against the Lions, with Mattison getting just two of his own. The 17 yards on the ground for the starter was beyond a weak average, but there was never a commitment to making that portion of the offense work. Ultimately, Mullens threw a duck to Justin Jefferson as the clock ticked down, and the Vikings’ playoff hopes dwindled.

With significantly less to play for in Week 18 and long odds to make it matter at all, the Vikings still faced a full complement of Lions regulars. Jefferson got his, and Mullens continued to air it out, but this time Chandler became a factor once again. Carrying the rock 12 times, the running back put up 69 yards and owned an impressive 5.75 yards per carry. He also hauled in two of three targets for an additional 20 yards.

do the right thing
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With the possibility of flopping twice against the same opponent, Chandler ensured that wouldn’t take place. His competition, Mattison, turned seven carries into a paltry 24 yards and continued to show a lack of efficiency. If there was a lasting impression to leave, Chandler did everything he could to make sure it took place on the field.

It remains to be seen how the Vikings will handle the running back position next year, but you can bet Chandler will be squarely in the mix for a significant amount of the touches.

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.