Early-season debate: Adrian Peterson vs. Calvin Johnson

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 7, 2013 - 12:49 AM

Who’s more dominant — the running back or the receiver?

All week long Brian Billick studied the film.

Billick, the Super Bowl-winning coach now an NFL analyst for Fox Sports, will be part of the team broadcasting the Vikings’ game in Detroit on Sunday. So he has watched both teams, analyzed their 2012 seasons, gotten up to speed on both rosters.

And yet, when asked a simple question, he paused.

Who would you take first? Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who came within a whisper of setting the single-season rushing record last season? Or Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who set the receiving yards record last season?

“Well, that’s a tougher question to answer than it would seem,” Billick said, “though I agree that you’re talking about the best players in the game today at their position.”

Do you go with Peterson’s 2,097 rushing yards, his league-best 2,314 yards from scrimmage, his incredible 1,019 yards after contact? Or do you go with Johnson’s 1,964 receiving yards, the fact that he is only the fifth player in league history to reach 7,500 career yards in 90 or fewer games?

Do you marvel at Peterson’s incredible 27 rushes of 20 or more yards? Or Johnson’s 40 catches of 20 or more yards?

Not an easy decision. But Sunday’s opener for both teams will include both dominant players.

Both of them were drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft (Johnson second overall, Peterson seventh); both transitioned quickly to the NFL. Peterson has scored 80 touchdowns, Johnson 55.

Each has kept track of the other since being drafted on the same day.

“AP’s the man,” Johnson said. “I mean, what he does, with all the carries he gets, all the punishment? Well, he doesn’t really take punishment, he dishes it out. … I just hope he doesn’t do it against us.”

Said Peterson: “Definitely have a great appreciation for him. [He is a] great talent, a guy that you have to account for.”

Both are used to being the focus of opposing defenses but have managed to dominate nonetheless.

So, which player would you choose? “If you look just at the stats, I would lean toward Adrian Peterson,” Billick said. “He touches the ball 30, 35 times a game. I think that gives him a much bigger impact than a guy who, in a good game, will have 10 to 12 receptions.”

Others agree. Jimmy Johnson won two Super Bowls while coaching a Dallas team that had future Hall of Famers at quarterback (Troy Aikman), running back (Emmitt Smith) and receiver (Michael Irvin).

So which player would he take to start a team? “Well, I wouldn’t take either one,” Johnson said of Peterson and Johnson. “I’d take a quarterback first. And then my second choice would be another quarterback. But as far as those two players? The running back. He’s going to have an impact on the game, regardless. The receiver is relying on having a good quarterback. If I were forced to take one of the two without the quarterback, I’d take the healthy running back.’

Said Aikman: “I would as well. Having played with some great receivers, those guys have a huge impact, no question. But you can do things, slow them down a little — though nobody did it with Calvin, I have to admit. Still, I’d go with [Peterson].”

There is a caveat. Peterson got his team into the playoffs last season despite an uneven passing attack. Johnson racked up the numbers for a disappointing 4-12 team. Still …

  • related content

  • By the numbers: Peterson vs. Johnson

    Friday September 6, 2013

    AD VS. MEGATRONAdrian Peterson, Calvin JohnsonDraftedPeterson: 7th overall, 2007Johnson: 2nd overall, 2007Key 2012 statsPeterson: 2,097 rushing yardsJohnson: 122 receptions 1,964 yardsPlays...

  • Kapp on Manning's seven TDs: What took so long?

    Saturday September 7, 2013

    The former Vikings QB knew it was a matter of time before some modern-day gunslinger reached his touchdown standard. He...

  • Vikings' Kevin Williams looks to Week 2

    Saturday September 7, 2013

    Sunday’s game will be only the third he has missed because of injury.

  • Adrian Peterson, left, and Calvin Johnson have kept track of each other for years, resulting in a handshake after a 2012 game.

  • Adrian Peterson

  • Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland - LP: T. Bauer 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 3
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: K. Lohse 5
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: Z. Putnam 1
Washington - LP: S. Strasburg 4 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa 6
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: T. Walker 2
Detroit - WP: A. Sanchez 11 FINAL
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 5
Los Angeles - LP: D. Haren 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 6
San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 3 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 1
Texas - LP: Y. Darvish 1 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Phelps 2
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 4 FINAL
Toronto - WP: R. Dickey 6
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: E. Santana 6
Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb 3 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 0
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 3
Houston - LP: B. Peacock 7 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Chavez 9
Baltimore - LP: T. Hunter 2 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 3
Chicago 1 FINAL
San Jose 5
Calgary 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Winnipeg 7/25/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 7/26/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 7/26/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
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
Connecticut 75 FINAL
Washington 89
New York 66 FINAL
Los Angeles 64
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