The NFL Network’s “Best in the Biz” series rolled on last night as analyst Jamie Dukes ranked his top 5 RBs in the league. Dukes’ list began with a tie at #5 between Maurice Jones-Drew and Michael Turner, then moved to Frank Gore at #4 and Steven Jackson at #3. It’s pretty obvious who remained for the top 2 spots – Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson – as a league-wide debate has raged for months over which player is the better RB.
Dukes sided with Johnson, citing the fact that the Tennessee Titans star generated 45% of his team’ offense in 2009 and also pointing out the fumbling issue Peterson is dealing with. So Dukes rounded out his top 5 with Peterson at #2 and Johnson at #1. Two more interesting nuggets from the piece were that Dukes seemed a bit critical of the 14-pound football the Vikings RBs were using during offseason workouts and Dukes’ fellow analyst – Charles Davis – said that if forced to choose between the 2 RBs, he’d take Peterson.
For what it’s worth, I’ll acknowledge that there’s ample amount of evidence to support both sides of this debate. But I’d also have to say that if forced to choose between the 2 RBs, I’m taking Adrian.
Clearly Johnson had the better 2009 season, especially when you look at rushing yards – Johnon had over 2,006 and Peterson had 1,383. But I’m looking at the total body of work and I’m also projecting what type of season they’re going to have in 2010. Over the first 3 years of his career, Peterson has earned AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors (2007), became the NFL’s leading rusher (2008) and then was the league’ TDs leader (2009). He also shared the ball last year with QB Brett Favre and a bevy of other talented offensive players (Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Visanthe Shiancoe). Oh, and he’s also a 3-time Pro Bowler.
Then as we look ahead to the 2010 season, it’s my opinion that Peterson is set up to have the better year. His offensive line comes back in tact with another year of cohesion under their belts and the offense as a whole returns all 11 starters and has replaced the loss of Chester Taylor with 2nd round pick Toby Gerhart.
I don’t want to disrespect Johnson because what he accomplished last year and how he accomplished it was something special. As both Dukes and Davis mentioned in the segment, Johnson displayed an ability to generate yards and he did it by catching the ball and running both between the tackles and on the perimeter. But I”m still taking Peterson over Johnson.
This isn’t the 1st time Peterson’s been tied to another star RB in a debate over who is the better player. Last offseason, Hall of FAme RB Jim Brown touched off a debate when he said Peterson was the NFL’s most complete back.
LaDainian Tomlinson took offense to that claim, saying “The difference with me is you can put me out on that field and there will be nothing I can’t do. I won’t have to come off the field. Adrian has to come off sometimes on third down. Running routes, he’s still not there yet.
“But anything on that field you want me to do — throw it, block — I can do it. That’s what I pride myself on is not having any weaknesses. And that’s what makes me the best back.”
Now Johnson is the latest RB to be linked to Peterson in a debate over who is the better player. And Johnon, like Tomlinson, isn’t afraid to come to his own defense.
“You’ve still got people debating — is it Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson?” Johnson told The Sporting News. “No way possible there should be a debate about who’s the best running back in the NFL.”
Johnson is wrong; there is reason for debate. I guess another reason I side with Peterson is that in both the debate between Peterson and Tomlinson and Peterson and Johnson, Peterson is the one who you don’t hear from. He doesn’t get wrapped up in it himself, and that’s an admirable trait in an NFL star.
Tags: Adrian Peterson
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 25 Comments »