Dalvin Cook Breaks Silence on Issues With Vikings

Dalvin Cook

Getty Running back Dalvin Cook was named a Pro Bowler each of the last four seasons (2019-2022).

Much has been made of the reasons behind the Minnesota Vikings releasing Dalvin Cook, who is coming off a fourth consecutive Pro Bowl appearance this year and showed he’s still one of the league’s most explosive backs.

It ultimately came down to finances. Cook was due a $10.4 million base salary that the new Vikings regime did not want to sink in at the running back position.

However, another wrinkle in the decision to move on from Cook was Kevin O’Connell’s hope for more consistency in the running game after Cook led the league with 62 rushes of zero or negative yards, per ESPN.

Appearing on The Adam Schefter Podcast on June 19, Cook addressed the changes to the offense in the first year under O’Connell, which didn’t necessarily benefit him as a runner.

“I’m a three-down back. Running the ball, outside zone, inside zone, that’s what I do. That’s my bread and butter. That’s not their scheme. They want to get the ball out wide to the guys outside, and they want to toss the ball around, and that’s not what I’m looking [for],” Cook said.

He added that he’s hoping to find a team that is willing to commit to the run game more as opposed to a more diverse scheme like O’Connell’s.

“I want somebody that’s going to ground and pound, and we’re going to make plays on the outside, and I’m going to help somebody win,” Cook said.

Cook’s agent also bad-mouthed the Vikings’ playcalling in the run game earlier this offseason. While Cook had his issues with the offense, he maintained his grace with the organization and expressed his understanding of the business decision to release him.

“The relationship between me K.O. [O’Connell], Kwesi [Adofo-Mensah]… it’s just love. I appreciate them coming in and being the people they was — just making sure that Dalvin Cook the person was okay every day when I walked in the building,” Cook said. They good people, I appreciate them so much, but the move was anticipated.”

Alexander Mattison Is Not the Answer for Vikings

Alexander Mattison

GettyAlexander Mattison isn’t the complete answer for replacing Dalvin Cook.

While Alexander Mattison has proven effective in his starts replacing Cook, he’s not the full answer to solving the Vikings running game, which ranked 26th in yards per attempt (4.1) last season.

Mattison is a back that will largely take what he’s given and struggles to create in space like Cook can. Cook’s playmaking abilities were a double-edged sword last season given the number of times he was tackled behind the line of scrimmage.

The chart below shows both backs rushing yards over expected (RYOE) — a metric that grades every run on whether they gained more, less or what was expected compared to an average running back in the NFL.

Cook had a higher level of variance than Mattison, who cannot be expected to replace the explosives that Cook brought to the offense.

However, the goal this season is to create better situations on later downs by having more consistency in the running game. If that is achieved, the offense will be much harder to read with a stable of diverse running backs to deploy on third-and-short.

 Ty Chandler a Breakout Candidate for Vikings

Ty Chandler

GettySecond-year running back Ty Chandler is considered a breakout candidate for the Vikings in 2023.

After flashing promise as a fifth-round rookie in the 2022 preseason, Ty Chandler is garnering attention as a breakout candidate this season.

FantasyPros recently listed three second-year running backs who could see more playing time this season and is bullish on the North Carolina prospect.

“Do not discount the impact that a secondary option could have in the Vikings’ offense. Mattison is a three-down back, but Chandler offers a more explosive skillset that could play well off Mattison’s more traditional style,” FantasyPros wrote on June 9.

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