The prevailing wisdom from the Really Smart Football People™ seems to be that the Minnesota Vikings will suffer a bit in the run game with Dalvin Cook having been released by the team last week. However, one of those Really Smart Football People™ doesn’t appear to see it that way.
Over at USA Today’s Touchdown Wire, Doug Farrar has named Cook’s successor, Alexander Mattison, as the team’s “Secret Superstar” for this upcoming season. He believes that Mattison is quite capable of stepping into the role of lead back for the purple.
Mattison, selected by the Vikings in the third round of the 2019 draft out of Boise State, has never seen more than 134 carries in a season through his NFL career. Last season, as the second man in a rotation with Dalvin Cook, he had just 74 carries, totaling 283 yards and scoring five touchdowns on the ground. Mattison’s prospects look to change significantly after Cook’s recent release, and he appears to be ready for the jump. On those 74 carries, Cook was good for eight explosive plays (10 or more yards), he averaged 2.76 yards after contact per carry, and he forced 23 missed tackles.
Mattison isn’t quite as explosive as Cook, but he is absolutely the kind of hammerhead back you can go with in critical situations. Head coach Kevin O’Connell has said that he sees Mattison as an every-down back, and now, it’s time to find out.
(He means Mattison was good for eight explosive plays, obviously.)
Mattison has gotten his opportunities in the past when Cook was injured and, for the most part, has been fairly productive. He doesn’t have a lot of wear and tear at this point, either. . .as was pointed out by Farrar, he only carried the ball 74 times last season and has just 404 carries for his career.
On top of that, Mattison isn’t really going to be expected to be the “bell cow” back that Cook had been for most of his time in Minnesota. With the way they’ve handled the running back position, it seems that the Vikings are ready to go to more of a committee approach, similar to what a lot of NFL teams are currently doing.
Between Mattison and whatever combination of Ty Chandler, DeWayne McBride, and Kene Nwangwu the Vikings rotate in with him, the Vikings should be just fine when it comes to moving the ball on the ground this coming season.