Vikings Leaders Express Confidence in Young Playmaker

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Minnesota Vikings
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Both Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah took to the podium at the NFL Scouting Combine to discuss the upcoming NFL offseason.

Amongst many topics, the duo spent time talking about the contract negotiations for Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, and Danielle Hunter. However, another talking point that was brought up to the Vikings leaders involved their running back room.

In particular, both Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell expressed confidence in Ty Chandler heading into the 2024 season.

Vikings Leaders Show Confidence in Ty Chandler

Vikings Leaders
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

“The way Ty finished the season was a real positive,” O’Connell said during his presser on Tuesday afternoon. “Going Year 2 into Year 3 will be a huge opportunity for him to continue his growth.”

“The big thing for him now, from Year 2 to Year 3, is just that every down consistency,” O’Connell continued. “So that he can get those consistent touches, volume touches in a game. But to do that, he’s got to [handle] every phase of our offense consistently with no letup. What does that look like? Catching the football out of the backfield, blitz pickup, understanding the mental game. I call it that mental warfare that’s going on between offense and defense, snap in and snap out. But I love where Ty is at. Going to be a big offseason for him. Really, really excited about Ty.”

Adofo-Mensah expressed a similar sentiment during his presser, saying, “I think Ty Chandler had a great, great season in the second half there.”

Chandler finished the 2023 season with 102 carries for 461 yards and three rushing touchdowns while totaling 21 receptions for 159 yards. By the end of the year, it became abundantly clear that he was Minnesota’s RB1, leading the Vikings’ running back group in carries for five of the final seven games of the season.

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

Of course, the Vikings still had one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL this past year, both in terms of rushing totals and efficiency. Here is a look at where Minnesota ranked in a couple key categories:

  • Total Carries: 28th
  • Rushing Yards: 29th
  • Yards per Carry: 24th
  • Rushing TDs: 30th
  • Rushing EPA: 23rd

While the team is obviously impressed with what Chandler was able to accomplish in his second season, it appears that Minnesota is keeping an eye on the RB market this offseason whether it be through free agency or the draft.

“It’s always a position that I think, whether free agency or the draft, you’re looking to continue to infuse talent and different skill sets into that room,” O’Connell said.

The free agency market is absolutely loaded with talent at the position, including names like Saquon Barkley, Austin Ekeler, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard, and D’Andre Swift. If the Vikings don’t want to pay top dollar for free agent acquisitions, the draft could be another suitable option.

While there isn’t a Bijan Robinson-type player at the top of the class, there is plenty of depth at the RB position that could fly off the board during the second day of the draft such as Trey Benson, Blake Corum, Bucky Irving, and MarShawn Lloyd.

Oct 7, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans running back MarShawn Lloyd (0) is brought down by Arizona Wildcats linebacker Jacob Manu (5) and linebacker Taylor Upshaw (11) during the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Overall, Chandler’s 2023 season should provide some promise for Vikings fans that Minnesota’s rushing offense can finally creep closer towards the middle of the pack in 2024.

However, particularly if the Vikings hand the offense over to a rookie quarterback, they could be in need of a better-than-average ground attack to take pressure off whichever young passer they opt to target. Don’t be surprised if the Vikings target some extra RB help over the course of the offseason.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.