Vikings Can Find out Where It Went Wrong with Alexander Mattison

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The Minnesota Vikings decided to move on from Dalvin Cook last offseason as it was apparent that he was nearing the end of the line. They had a ready-made starter in Alexander Mattison, but it couldn’t have played out worse. When he lands a new team, they’ll have a chance to figure out where it went wrong.

Vikings Can Find out Where It Went Wrong with Alexander Mattison

When Dalvin Cook was employed as the lead back by the Minnesota Vikings, Alexander Mattison was among the best handcuffs in the sport. He would routinely step up and produce in Cook’s absence and consistently put up gaudy numbers when given a chance. In being elevated to the starter, though, the ability escaped him, and he never looked less productive.

Where It Went Wrong
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Just a year after returning to Minnesota on a two-year deal to be their starter, Mattison was released, and the Vikings incurred a $4 million dead cap hit because of it. He was supplanted early by Cam Akers and then lost the role for good when Ty Chandler took over later in the season. The front office has now decided they will move forward without his services, and the position will be turned over to Chandler at worst.

The first two seasons of Mattison’s career were easily his most productive. Generating 4.6 yards per carry on nearly 200 totes, the Vikings backup got two starts during his second season while Cook missed time. He didn’t do much in the passing game but proved capable in pass protection, which expanded his role. In each of the past two seasons, Mattison saw his yards per carry dip below 4.0, but 2021 saw him get increasingly more involved through the air.

Fans Have the Worst
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When Kevin O’Connell took over in 2022, Mattison experienced his lowest usage as a professional. A significant portion of that was due to the health of Cook, who, for the first time in his career, was available for every game. Mattison got just 74 carries and had only 18 targets out of the backfield. Working with a new coach, and one that didn’t lean heavily on the running game, was probably a very different sort of gameplan for the runner.

Therein could lie the problem that Mattison and Minnesota experienced last season. Even with Cook the year prior, O’Connell didn’t coach an exceptional running game. With Mattison as a lesser talent, the production took an even greater step backward last season. Should Mattison have his pick of multiple suitors, he should be looking to go somewhere that the running game is a priority. It isn’t as though he has too much mileage on his body, and he needs a situation where the line can create holes up the middle.

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It shouldn’t be shocking if Mattison finds success at his next stop, but it will come with a more traditional head coach, one that has a more significant commitment to the running game.

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.