Some Sins from 2023 Vikings Come to Light

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Did it feel like the Minnesota Vikings’ ground attack was mostly futile in the redzone last year? The numbers confirm your suspicion.

Some Sins from 2023 Vikings Come to Light

Thanks to Warren Sharp of Sharp Analysis, Minnesota’s rushing game found a new statistical low this week after Sharp analyzed former Vikings running back Alexander Mattison. In short, Mattison’s performance around the goalline reached historically bad levels last season.

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Sharp tweeted Tuesday, “The craziest stat you’ll see today. Alexander Mattison had 9 rushes inside the 5 yard line last year. The result? — -7 yards & 0 TDs — He’s the first RB in at least 25 years to have more than 6 attempts inside the 5 but score 0 TDs and actually lose at least 2 yards in total.”

He then posted a video of Mattison’s transactions and transgressions:

Fortunately, for the Vikings’ sake, this stat doesn’t have to repeat in 2024 — and it would be strange if so. Minnesota signed free-agent running back Aaron Jones in March, a direct replacement for Mattison, who later joined the Las Vegas Raiders’ roster. Jones does not have a history of troubles in the redzone — or anything of the sort — so Minnesota’s woes near the goalline, in theory, can cease.

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Mattison will presumably vie for an RB2 job in Las Vegas, though the RB1 competition isn’t very stiff. Josh Jacobs left this offseason, joining Jones’ former club, the Packers, as RB1, and yes, that means the Vikings will see Jacobs twice annually.

On the whole, Mattison struggled in one audition as the Vikings’ RB1. The team tabbed him as the lead guy entering 2023, and the experiment faltered. Mattison tabulated 180 carries for 700 yards and zero touchdowns. The veteran runner was injured in November, and second-year halfback Ty Chandler took over, immediately providing more burst and production, seeming to cement an enhanced role in 2024. In fact, with Mattison as the top guy, Minnesota didn’t score a rushing touchdown until Week 8 last season, if that can be believed.

Starters in 2023
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From 2019 to 2022, though, Mattison was quite impressive in the Vikings’ offense, functioning as a reliable RB2 behind Dalvin Cook for four seasons. When Cook would miss games, Vikings fans were never too worried about Mattison taking over for a week or two. Perhaps his career can be rekindled in Las Vegas.

In 2022, the Vikings ranked 27th per rushing DVOA. The franchise vowed to improve the mark in 2023. Then, that season arrived, and Minnesota finished — you guessed it — 27th per rushing DVOA. Again. Fans placed much of the blame on Mattison’s shoulders, so we shall see if Jones + Chandler can be the special sauce for repair in September.

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Meanwhile, Cam Akers, the man who scored the first rushing touchdown of the Vikings’ season in Week 8 at Atlanta, may rejoin the club soon, too, if he hasn’t already. His status is currently a mystery.

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