Souhan: Peterson needs help on offense

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 6, 2013 - 12:09 AM

The Vikings need a diverse offense, not a maxed-out running back.

So you’re fired up to watch the Vikings’ opener. You’re a new-age NFL fan. You’ve got your artisan chips, organic guacamole made from avocados imported on an entirely organic boat, meat so tender the farmer must have carried that cow everywhere, and a “We’re No. 1” foam finger that the vendor promises never came close to Miley Cyrus.

You can’t wait for Adrian Peterson to defy physiology, psychology, logic and history by rushing for 2,500 yards this season.

Peterson raises expectations the way a drunk bids at an auction. Do we have 2,000? “I can do that,’’ Peterson says. Do we have 2,500? “Why not?’’ Peterson says.

You should want Peterson to aim high. You should also want him to fall short.

Here’s why:

Running the ball well benefits NFL teams. Running the ball constantly rarely does.

Since Terrell Davis rushed for 2,008 yards in 1998 and the Broncos won the Super Bowl with Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway running the offense, no player who led the NFL in rushing has won a Super Bowl. Only one has played in a Super Bowl — Seattle’s Shaun Alexander in 2005.

• • •

Peterson seemed indestructible last year, but he’s not. At 28, he has already suffered two serious knee injuries, and he plays in an era when concussions diagnoses are commonplace. Every time he carries the ball, he’s at risk. To rush for 2,500 yards, he’d take an inhuman battering against teams lined up to stop him. He survived last year, but there’s a reason NFL running backs last about as long as boy bands.

• • •

His output last year shouldn’t be considered a steppingstone, but an aberration. His entire offensive line stayed healthy all year. He stayed healthy all year. Stump your friends with this question: Before he rushed for 2,097 yards, how many times had Peterson rushed for more than 1,400 yards?

The answer: Once. In 2008, starring in another offense that relied heavily on the run and downplayed quarterback play, Peterson rushed for 1,760 yards. His third-highest total: 1,383 in 2009, when he played in a fully functional offense with a gifted quarterback and receivers. That should be considered a median, even a desirable, season.

• • •

Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards in part because of individual brilliance, but also because of the Vikings’ failures. If he reaches that total again, that would mean that the Vikings again failed to throw the ball effectively and were still unstable at the most important position in sport, quarterback.

If the Vikings throw the ball well, there will be fewer yards available to Peterson no matter how well he runs. The Vikings didn’t sign Greg Jennings and draft Cordarrelle Patterson to block downfield. They brought them in to diversify and improve the offense.

Rushing for 2,000 yards also requires poor field position and lots of possession time. The Vikings would be a better team if their defense and special teams would score a few touchdowns and set up a few 20-yard touchdown drives.

• • •

NFL backs who have reached 2,000 yards typically regress dramatically the next season, demonstrating the physical toll absorbed by star runners. The Vikings would be better off having Peterson rush for 1,500 yards for each of the next five seasons than having him reach 2,000 again and shortening his career.

  • related content

  • Vikings notes: Williams doubtful for season opener

    Friday September 6, 2013

    Kevin Williams has missed only two games in 10 seasons because of injury, but his availability for Sunday’s season opener looks in serious jeopardy.

  • Peterson says he's not worried about fullback situation

    Thursday September 5, 2013

    Peterson will be without Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton for three games

  • Chart: 2013 NFC North team capsules

    Thursday September 5, 2013

    Sizing up The vikings’ competition in the NFC northCHICAGO bears2012 record: 10-6, third, missed the playoffs.Key addition: Coach Marc Trestman....

  • Vikings runningback Adrian Peterson

  • The numbers might be nice, but history shows that few NFL teams reach great heights with a one-man show on offense.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Diego - LP: J. Lane 0 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: E. Santana 2
Washington - LP: R. Soriano 6 FINAL
Miami - WP: M. Dunn 7
Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 7
Milwaukee - LP: K. Lohse 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 2
Toronto - WP: R. Dickey 14 FINAL
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 1
Arizona - WP: O. Perez 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: J. Hoover 1
Colorado - LP: Y. Flande 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: T. Wada 4
NY Yankees - LP: D. Phelps 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: Y. Darvish 4
Oakland - LP: J. Chavez 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: B. Oberholtzer 7
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 5 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: M. Bumgarner 0
NY Giants 8/3/14 7:00 PM
Buffalo
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
Seattle 0
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 8/1/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Brt Columbia 8/1/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Indiana 73 FINAL
Los Angeles 77
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close