Wes Phillips’ Presser Proves Prophetic, Foreshadows Great Chance for Vikings Sophomore

Sep 30, 2022; Thundridge, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips during practice at Hanbury Manor. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Some certainly expected the Dalvin Cook cut news, but I wasn’t among them. While a divorce always made a lot of sense, arriving at a cut in early June makes very little sense to my puny football brain.

The Vikings’ RB room has been shuffled. During his recent press conference, OC Wes Phillips spoke about how Ty Chandler’s role will inevitably grow. Keep in mind that Phillips was speaking on June 6th. The Cook news emerged on June 8th. Behind the scenes, Phillips knew something was happening; Chandler would thus need to be ready for a greater workload.

Wes Phillips’ Presser Prophecy

As a rookie, Ty Chandler didn’t do very much. Being buried behind both Cook and Alexander Mattison didn’t help, but the greater issue was his injury. The North Carolina alumnus played in 3 games, picking up 6 carries and 20 yards along the way. He had 12 snaps on offense and 39 snaps on special teams.

Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) is tackled by Chicago Bears players during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

So, room to improve.

Phillips was outgoing but measured with his praise: “Yes, Ty’s obviously a great athlete, the reason why we brought him here. He’s a real pro.” Shortly thereafter, the OC praises his work ethic and lauds the room as a whole. He only mentions Mattison, Chandler, and Kene Nwangwu. C.J. Ham gets some love, but no mention of Dalvin.

The omission was notable but not reason to think cut news would emerge a couple days later, but here we are.

“Ty’s a guy that we’re continuing to give him opportunities,” Phillips explains, “both in the run game and the pass game because of some of things he can do coming out of the backfield and catching the football. He’s getting better everyday.”

As of right now, Chandler is the frontrunner to be the team’s RB2. A free agent addition is possible, but the greater chance rests in letting the young runners already on the roster battle for the primary backup job. That means Chandler will be hoping to fend off the efforts from kick return specialist Kene Nwangwu and recent draftee DeWayne McBride.

Dec 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

One can easily envision a world where Chandler develops a sizable role on 3rd down. He’s neither hulking nor puny at 6’0”, 210 pounds. What he does possess is speed. Coming into the draft, Chandler ran a blistering 4.38.

During his final season in college, he had just 15 catches, but they went for an impressive 14.4 yards (on average). Now partner that explosiveness as a pass catcher with 6.0 yards per carry and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Add it all together and there’s a running back who beckons greater opportunity.

True, expectations should be adjusted since he was a 5th-round selection. Even still, the coaching staff is enthused about his abilities. And, to be sure, we’re talking about a 5th rounder in the modern NFL, not the NFL of your grandparents’ generation. It’s not altogether uncommon to see late-round RBs shine.

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

Optimism is high for the Vikings’ offense. Josh Oliver got some love from his OC and the trio of Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and K.J. Osborn – which is to say nothing of T.J. Hockenson – is sure to create plenty of problems. Make no mistake: Kevin O’Connell is expecting to compete in 2023.

The run game’s job will be to provide the necessary balance and unpredictability. Mattison is going to be leading the charge, but Chandler is projected to get some significant snaps.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Sports Reference CFB helped with this piece.