The Minnesota Vikings have a serious problem in the running back room.
For the second week in a row, the Vikings proved unable to move the ball on the ground. Minnesota mustered just 28 total yards rushing against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, September 14, all of which came on eight carries by starter Alexander Mattison. Backup RB Ty Chandler carried the football once for no gain.
The ground game was nearly as futile during the Vikings’ season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mattison carried the ball 11 times for 34 yards while Chandler again mustered zero yards on three attempts. Quarterback Kirk Cousins added seven yards on three rushes.
While an injured and makeshift offensive line Thursday night carries a significant amount of the blame for Minnesota’s lack of a rushing attack, the time has come for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell to admit that running back is by far the weakest of the team’s skill positions and must be supplemented immediately with a player capable of producing a real impact who allows the Vikings to again become a two-dimensional offense.
The best option available is free agent and former NFL rushing champion Kareem Hunt.
Vikings Considered Adding Kareem Hunt to RB Room in August
Minnesota hosted Hunt for a workout on August 11, though did not choose to immediately sign him. O’Connell offered insight into the meeting and Hunt’s potential fit with the Vikings during a press conference the following day.
“It was — much like we’ve done in other scenarios — just trying to build a relationship, gain a little bit more information about that particular player and maybe a potential fit on our football team,” O’Connell said. “But we’re always just trying to explore every avenue, not only to have the best training camp possible but looking forward to what certain position units look like.”
Hunt led the NFL in rushing as a rookie with 1,327 rushing yards as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. He joined the Cleveland Browns two years later in 2019, where he spent the last four seasons as the backup to perennial Pro-Bowler Nick Chubb.
Hunt, now 27 years old, has tallied more than 4,000 yards on the ground over the course of his six-year NFL career, along with 211 catches for 1,806 yards. He has found the end zone a total of 48 times.
Vikings’ Plan to Replace Dalvin Cook with Alexander Mattison Has Failed
The Vikings signed Mattison to a two-year contract extension worth $7 million over the offseason to replace four-time Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook, who the franchise cut in the name of several million in salary cap savings. The idea was reasonable at the time, as Mattison had amassed 1,670 rushing yards, 526 receiving yards on 70 receptions and 14 total touchdowns as Cook’s backup over the previous four seasons.
It is now painfully clear, however, that Mattison and Chandler will not be enough on their own to give the Vikings any kind of real ground game on which the team can lean. Minnesota also added former Miami Dolphins starter Myles Gaskin to the fold, though he has not yet logged a carry.
Kick return specialist and reserve running back Kene Nwangwu remains on IR for at least the next two weeks.