It’s funny how quickly we can get used to superstar production from a superstar player. Last season, RB Adrian Peterson toted the ball a franchise-record 363 times and won the NFL rushing title with 1,760 yards.
This year, we’ve seen fewer sensational single-game totals – Peterson has two 100-yard games through 11 weeks in 2009 and had 6 such performances through 11 weeks in 2008 – but I would actually argue that Peterson and the Vikings running game might be in better shape this year. Let me explain…
– #28 is still on pace for 1,600 yards. And he’s going to do that with fewer carries this year than he had last year. I like that. Perhaps it’ll keep him fresher as we get to the late stages of the season and into the playoffs.
– Peterson’s yardage totals are a bit lower in 2009, but he’s finding the end zone more, too. He had 10 rushing TDs last year and this year he already has 11 and is on pace for 18.
– The slight downturn in rushing yardage this season is a function, in my opinion, of the Vikings improved passing attack with Brett Favre under center. The Vikings are throwing it more this season and they’re having much more success in doing so. This is largely because opposing teams MUST respect the Vikings ground game first, and that allows a sharp QB such as Favre to take advantage of mismatches and opportunities.
– Speaking of the passing game, Peterson has improved. His blocking is getting better by all accounts and he’s on pace to record career highs in receptions and receiving yards. Peterson’s career high in receptions is 21 and he already has 25 this year. His career-high in receiving yards is 268 and he’s on pace for 344 this year.
– I realize the Vikings have the 2nd most negative rushes in 2009, not a good trend. And Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress addressed that fact in Monday’s press conference. But it’s also important to note that the Vikings are 2nd in rushes for 20+ yards and they do average 4.67 yards per rush on 1st down, 9th-best in the NFL.
With all of that said, there’s one more reason for optimism going forward with regard to the Vikings rushing offense – there are still 2 games to play against the Bears. No disrespect to Chicago’s 2009 defense – the Vikings obviously haven’t faced them yet – but Peterson loves playing Chicago.
#28 set a then-franchise record at Chicago on 10/14/07 when he rushed for 224 yards and tied a team mark with 3 rushing TDs. He also set a team record with 361 combined yards (224 rushing, 9 receiving, 128 kickoff returns) on the day. In total against Chicago, Peterson has 554 rushing yards and 8 TDs in 4 games.
Perhaps the only angle of concern I can find for Peterson going against the Bears has nothing to do with dominant defensive linemen or athletic LBs. It’s actually a pesky defensive back.
If you’ve watch the Bears over the past couple of seasons or even the last couple of times they’ve played on prime time TV, you’ve probably noticed CB Charles Tillman and his propensity to strip the football from ball carriers. Over the last 2+ seasons (2007-present), Tillman has 14 forced fumbles, a very high number. He has 6 this year already, with 4 coming over the past 2 weeks alone.
With all of those forced fumbles to his credit since 2007, none of them have come against the Vikings. And if Peterson and Chester Taylor can continue that trend, I see them increasing the Vikings rushing trend this weekend and through the end of the 2009 season.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 4 Comments »