I think it would be easy to argue that the Minnesota VIkings have one of the deepest running back groups in the NFL as of right now. The one-two punch of Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison is enough to put them into that category but add in Kene Nwangwu and rookie Ty Chandler, and you have a multitude of options. Not to mention one of the best fullbacks in the league in CJ Ham.
Dalvin Cook RB1
We know what Dalvin Cook brings to the table with his quickness, speed, and strength. We also know what this offense has looked like in the past when he has been injured. He is at his best when he can play a violent style of football. The best way to allow him to do this is to keep his legs fresh by subbing in other running backs when possible.
Ty Chandler could be best used as a change of pace back on 3rd downs and when Dalvin needs a break otherwise. I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of these guys come out in a single back look, only to shift out to a slot receiver or wide receiver position. All four of these running backs have the speed, quickness, and catching ability in order to be a real threat from anywhere on the field.
Play action passing is where Kirk Cousins has been at his best over the course of his career. It is important that the run game gets established as a threat early on so that those plays can be more effective. By being able to be two dimensional, it will be much harder for defenses to lock onto one player or group of plays. I would also hope that Kellen Mond gets some playing time this year and I could see them using an RPO (Run Pass Option) style of plays in order to get him involved. He is a great athlete and could get involved in the run game that way.
Changes To Come
From all the chatter surrounding the OTAs and practices that the Vikings have been able to have so far, it seems as if this offense is going to be much more pass heavy than previous groups. This makes sense when you have guys like Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, KJ Osborn, and Irv Smith Jr. to throw the ball to. It will also be crucial to get the running back group involved in the passing game. Whether it is using them in pass protection or sending them out on routes, they could be just as important as the wide receiver group when it comes to production from the passing game.
I am excited to see what this running back group can do as we go throughout this 2022-23 NFL season and I hope you are too. Chances are that we will see this group being put in lots of different positions/places on the field when compared to the old regime of Zimmer and Spielman. While that might make some fans nervous, I believe it is reason for excitement. It also involves realizing the potential of these athletes in the running back group and using them as their skillsets best allow.