Don’t Forget 1 Speedy Vikings Weapon

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

The Minnesota Vikings have made many changes in the offseason. Kirk Cousins’ departure is certainly the most significant difference from last year. Sam Darnold and J.J. McCarthy will try to take his place under center. Other changes on offense include K.J. Osborn’s absence; his backups from last season, Jalen Nailor or Brandon Powell, are slated to be the new WR3.

Don’t Forget 1 Speedy Vikings Weapon

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) leaves the field after their wild-card playoff game on Sunday, January 14, 2024, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 48-32.

Another point of emphasis for the Vikings was the rushing attack. Alexander Mattison was cut after one year as the team’s top running back because of his underwhelming performance. A few days later, longtime Packers halfback Aaron Jones signed with the purple team. The franchise hopes he can be a much-needed upgrade.

His arrival has been a major reason for optimism for Vikings fans ‒ for good reason. Jones was an integral element in Green Bay’s offense. The knock on him is his injuries, and at age 29, he is unlikely to be a long-term solution. Still, he produced 889 yards from scrimmage in 11 games after four straight seasons of eclipsing 1,100 yards. Jones rushed for over 100 yards in the final five contests of the season, showing that he still has some gas left in the tank.

While the addition is generally positive, one guy named Ty Chandler has been forgotten because of Jones.

Forget 1 Speedy Vikings' Weapon
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.

After Mattison’s release, the 2022 fifth-rounder was a candidate to be the new top runner on the depth chart, but he returned to his backup spot once Jones signed.

Chandler is coming off a wonderful late-season breakout. Strangely, the coaching staff seemed to underrate him, playing Cam Akers and Mattison ahead of him. The rushing game was a disaster, so why not give the more explosive sophomore a shot?

That didn’t happen until Mattison missed Week 15 because of a minor injury. Chandler started and rushed for over 100 yards as the first of Minnesota’s running backs all season. Mattison returned after the game, but the roles were switched, and he became Chandler’s RB2.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) celebrates his touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Chandler finished 2023 with 102 carries for 481 yards and three touchdowns. He is also a capable receiver, as his 21 catches for 159 yards show.

The good news for Chandler is that he will be the unquestioned RB2, at the very least. There are some players available, and the Vikings reportedly have an interest in re-signing Akers, but none of those guys, including Akers, are a real threat to his touches.

Chandler showed enough promise to have a role in the upcoming season. While Jones has the overall skill set to be a three-down running back, the Vikings should manage his touches to keep him fresh and off the injury report.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates after Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandlers (32) touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

There is a chance that Chandler is more than just a rotational runner, and head coach Kevin O’Connell wants to build a true committee. In addition to that, the rushing game will be a bigger part of the offense than in previous years, as the team can’t expect Darnold or McCarthy to throw the ball as much as Cousins did.

Regardless, Chandler should be on fans’ radars as a significant contributor in the upcoming season. He showed too much burst to disappear from the lineup.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this article.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and prefers Classic rock over other genres. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt