Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell Puts RB Alexander Mattison on Notice

Alexander Mattison

Getty Vikings running back Alexander Mattison

Following a third straight loss to start the season, Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell was direct in saying that if players continue to struggle fumbling the ball they will be replaced.

“That’s something we’re going to fix one way or another. Either guys are going to do it or we’re going to have to put other guys in the game that have ball security,” O’Connell said on Monday, September 25 after the Vikings’ first and final drives ended in turnovers in a 28-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Realistically, O’Connell will not be benching several players who have fumbled this season. Kirk Cousins, T.J. Hockenson and Justin Jefferson will not be benched.

But Alexander Mattison appears to be on a short leash.

Despite the starting Vikings running back is coming of his best game of the season, tallying 93 yards rushing on 20 carries along with five catches for 32 yards receiving,  Mattison has put the ball on the ground four times in the past two games. The trade for Cam Akers already signaled a timeshare in the backfield after Mattison dominated snaps for the first three games of the season.

Now, Mattison must protect the ball if he wants to keep his lions’ share of backfield duties going forward.

“I thought there was some other times where forward progress and things,” O’Connell said, “but we need to end every snap with the football in our hands. And that’s going to be continued urgency and emphasis like it was last week and we’re going to continue to do it and do it differently and emphasize it different ways until that value is received. Because that is a losing formula, as we’ve seen being where we’re at in the turnover differential now.”

Alexander Mattison Addresses Running Game, Hateful Messages

A lot has happened to Mattison in the past two weeks.

He received hateful messages on social media following a loss to the Eagles and also also had his role in the offense put into question with the Akers trade.

Mattison didn’t let those distractions take away from his performance on Sunday.

“I’m just playing ball. I’m out here doing my job, I have a responsibility to do, I have a game that I love to play. I have family that I’m doing it for, and I have my brothers to my left and my right in this locker room who I’m trying to go out and do it for. So that’s all I think about, that’s all my mindset is every time I go into a game,” Mattison said in a postgame locker room interview.

He was encouraged by the running game’s performance after nearly eclipsing the century mark on the ground after rushing for 69 yards on the ground in the previous two games combined.

“Yeah definitely, you feel confident in the run game after a game like that. We just have to continue to do what we do, firing on all cylinders in the run game, week-in and week-out so we can continue to beat up on some defenses and put ourselves in a position to win a game,” Mattison said.

Vikings O-Line Move Could Hurt Run Game

The Vikings’ signing of Dalton Risner to a $4 million one-year deal was the tell that they intend to use him this year.

Ed Ingram has been in the hot seat while being one of the most porous guards in the league. It’s unclear whether Risner with unseat Ingram or Ezra Cleveland, but the move may not be an all-around improvement.

Ingram has posted a 75.7 run-blocking grade by Pro Football Focus, the seventh-best grade by a guard in the league. Removing Ingram could put a damper on the momentum Minnesota has built in the run game after Week 3.

Getting Garrett Bradbury, out with a back injury, in the starting lineup would also bring a needed boost in both pass- and run-blocking.

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