The Minnesota Vikings faced a series of setbacks on Sunday night, from Kevin O’Connell’s questionable play-calling in the red zone to the neutralization of Jordan Addison by Patrick Surtain. Despite these challenges, hope persisted as Brian Flores’ defense held firm, propelling the Vikings to a 17-9 lead in the third quarter. However, a critical turning point occurred when Alexander Mattison’s fumble breathed new life into the Denver Broncos, leading to a 21-20 comeback victory.
While various factors contributed to the loss, the most prominent issue for the Vikings lies in their backfield. With the final six games approaching, there seems to be no clear solution, potentially jeopardizing their playoff aspirations.
The dilemma began with the Dalvin Cook situation last spring. Cook’s explosiveness waned, prompting the Vikings to seek a younger and more cost-effective alternative. This led to Mattison signing a two-year, $7 million contract. The concept was to create a deep running back room, including Ty Chandler, to emulate successful rushing attacks seen in other teams.
However, the on-field performance has not matched the theoretical benefits. Mattison’s struggles, highlighted by crucial fumbles, have raised concerns. Fans have pinned their hopes on Chandler, who showcased explosiveness and efficiency during his collegiate career at North Carolina.
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Despite Chandler’s potential, the Vikings continue to rely on Mattison, prompting questions about the invisible factors influencing this decision. This situation draws parallels to past instances where coaches, like Mike Zimmer, favored veterans over rookies due to undisclosed issues observed in practice.
Chandler’s limited playing time and the Vikings’ hesitation to put him on the field raise questions about potential behind-the-scenes concerns. O’Connell has hinted at issues, emphasizing the need for consistency and suggesting unseen factors affecting Chandler’s readiness.
The coaching staff faces a challenging situation. Mattison’s shortcomings as the primary running back are evident, but the lack of a confident alternative poses a risk. Acquiring Cam Akers and considering other running backs like David Montgomery further complicates the situation.
As the Vikings navigate the crucial weeks ahead, resolving the backfield dilemma becomes imperative. Failure to do so could lead to more setbacks akin to Mattison’s fumble on Sunday night, threatening Minnesota’s playoff aspirations.