c/o New Orleans Saints
5800 Airline Drive
Metairie, LA 70003
We are only 18 days from your scheduled return to Minneapolis as part of a running back rotation for the New Orleans Saints, and it’s my duty to inform you the largest share of the Minnesota sports media and Vikings fandom are extremely excited not to have you here anymore.
The crowd that fills The Zygi on opening night might be willing to offer applause if and when you appear on the field, but you should know any such greeting will be a display of mass hypocrisy.
As it turns out, you were largely a detriment to the Vikings through the decade of employment here, and we’re not talking about the seasons missed: one game played in 2014 when the child abuse case surfaced, and in 2016, when a knee injury and then a season gone awry limited you to three games.
No. From what I’ve been hearing and reading, you were a greater obstacle to Vikings success when you were in the lineup than when you were out of it.
There is a grudging admission here, Adrian, that those 2,097 rushing yards were beneficial in 2012, when the Vikings put together an unlikely four-game winning streak at regular season’s end and reached the playoffs.
And I also carried around the idea that the league-leading 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns were helpful in 2015, the most-recent playoff season, but now I have learned the situation was exactly the opposite.
This is what you were doing, Adrian, by getting those 327 carries and being relied on to reach the end zone when the Vikings were in close:
You were ruining the development of Teddy Bridgewater into a top 10 — heck, make that top five — quarterback.
You, Adrian. It wasn’t offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s longtime fondness for a strong running game that could lead to an explosive passing game. It was your demand for getting the football and discomfort for running out of the shotgun formation that was limiting our hero, “Teddy, Teddy, Teddy.’’
You, Adrian. It wasn’t a flawed offensive line, including the bust of a No. 4 overall draft choice in Matt Kalil at left tackle, that caused Teddy to back up frantically on third downs and throw away passes if there was a hint of a pass rush. It was your inability to block, which meant you weren’t on the field for those third-and-6s, which meant the defense could forget about any run option and go after our guy, Throwaway Ted.
You, Adrian. It wasn’t the fact when Bridgewater tried to throw more than 30 yards to a speed receiver, such as Mike Wallace, and the ball would flutter like a wounded blue wing teal, that eliminated the deep threat from the Vikings offense. If you had created a pass catching threat in the right flat, that would have made the secondary more honest, and the speed guys could have stood there wide open and waited for Teddy’s duck snort (apologies to Hawk Harrelson) to wobble into their arms and, presto, a 35-yard gain.
More I think about it, Adrian, it was probably a missed block by you some time in 2015 that caused Bridgewater’s knee to be weakened to the point that it blew up before last season.
We have a new guy in the rookie, Dalvin Cook, and all of the limits you put on the offense have been wiped away. The playbook is a clean sheet for offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
Here’s just a sampling of recent headlines:
“Dalvin Cook’s emergence makes clear Vikings’ era of one-dimensional backs is over.’’ (startribune.com)
“Good news for Vikings: rookie RB Dalvin Cook can catch.’’ (twincities.com)
“Unlike Adrian Peterson, Dalvin Cook appears to be a complete running back.’’ (1500espn.com)
The new guy can run, catch and block. And he’s not going to fumble like you did, Adrian.
OK, Cook did fumble at Florida State, but he’s not going to fumble here, because we have this new running backs coach, Kennedy Polamalu, and he’s teaching Dalvin not to fumble, and he’s Troy Polamalu’s uncle, and that solves that.
There’s none of that embarrassing behavior in Cook’s background, like you and the son, Adrian, and even if there is, he was acquitted in a half-hour by the jury on the charge of punching the young lady outside of a bar, and most of the rest of Dalvin’s stuff is in juvenile records.
Plus, when challenged to take a shot at you, we always can make another joke about the camel at your birthday party.
Welcome back on that first Monday night of the new season, Adrian, and Purpleland seems dang relieved to have you in a visitors garb.
Patrick J. Reusse