Film Analysis: The Exquisite Ty Chandler Touchdown was Choreographed Perfectly

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Ty Chandler brought the ball into the endzone, a rare feat for a Vikings running back in 2023. In fact, his rushing touchdown was just the second time a running back brought the ball across the line (on the ground, at least).

At times, the beauty of a score can get lost in the shuffle. Euphoria ensues for fans as praise is showered on the valiant Viking who added 6 points onto the total. Taking a step back, though, allows everyone involved to appreciate all of the hard work and excellent coaching behind the score. So, buckle up and take a peak at how things worked.

The Exquisite Ty Chandler Touchdown

Before getting ahead of ourselves, let’s consider the play. The Vikings have marched down the field, staring at a 2nd & goal from around the 2-yard line. Kevin O’Connell decides to get in bed with some tomfoolery, flexing his quarterback out to a wide receiver’s position.

Sensibly enough, the Saints respond to Dobbs’ movement. The safety shuffles over to the right side of the field, which isn’t where the ball is going.

Even still, New Orleans needs to respect that something could occur on that side of the field. After all, T.J. Hockenson and Jordan Addison are lined up over there, Minnesota’s most lethal pass catchers (when Justin Jefferson isn’t around). Prompting that defensive back to go to the wrong side is a major part of what makes the play work.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) scores on a touchdown run as New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Khalen Saunders (99) looks on during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Ty Chandler taking the snap means Minnesota is now in an unpredictable spot. This isn’t a play that Minnesota has put on film, so New Orleans needs to respect various possibilities without the benefit of being able to make an educated guess based off of past trends and tendencies.

Take a peak at a very rudimentary visual of how things should look for Minnesota’s formation:

The real intent of the play, of course, is for Chandler to follow his blockers around the left edge so he can get to the promised land. We know that with the benefit of hindsight; the Saints’ defenders had no such luck.

There can be no true appreciation for the play unless there’s some understanding of what’s happening up front. There are five blockers — Brandon Powell, N’Keal Harry, Christian Darrisaw, Dalton Risner, and Garrett Bradbury — who make the laneway that Chandler gets to explode through. A failure from one of these guys could have resulted in a failed play, so credit to them alongside the coaching staff for choreographing things so beautifully.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick (7) against Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw (71) at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s begin from left to right.

The pair of receivers — Powell and Harry — are responsible for sealing the edge. Since Darrisaw is going to pull outside, Risner and Harry have particularly important jobs. Risner needs to be quick enough to come across the defender’s face, reaching his outside shoulder so the running back can run unencumbered by a defender’s penetration. Harry has a role to play, as well, coming down hard on the defensive end’s outside shoulder to further seal the edge. Powell is left with the DB, coming up a touch before coming down hard on the Saint’s outside shoulder (seeing a trend?).

Amidst all of the chaos, there’s significant movement from a pair of offensive lineman. Darrisaw plays a starring role, looping around to wallop the defensive back. Chandler is going to read his left tackle’s backside. If the defender happens to cut underneath Darrisaw’s block, then Chandler will be tasked with bouncing things outside and getting to the pylon (Darrisaw doesn’t allow for that to happen, though).

Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) and quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) hug after a victory against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Hidden in the weeds of the play is Garrett Bradbury, who is using his brains and athleticism to help out. He climbs to the second level, getting to the outside shoulder of the Saints linebacker to ensure the flowing LB can’t pull the trigger to fill the gap being created along the left edge.

In summary, there is a double seal from the pair of receivers, a pulling left tackle, a reaching left guard, and a climbing center. On the opposite side is a pile of eye candy: the team’s top pass catchers alongside a quarterback who is a decoy since he’s lined up at receiver. And, for those who are curious, the right guard and right tackle are reaching, but they’re of less consequence to the outcome. And, of course, there’s the insanely fast Ty Chandler. The man has some wheels.

Take a look at what it looks like on a sheet:

At times, the Vikings have struggled in the redzone. Leaning on creative ways to gain an edge over the defense feels like a must for a Minnesota team that’s been stifled far too often on the ground.

Clever play designs alongside top-tier execution can make the difference between success and failure. The Chandler touchdown gave the Vikings the lead and they didn’t give it back all day. The victory pushed Minnesota to 6-4.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.