For a team that’s 1-2 and has faced its share of adversity so far in the young 2010 season, the Vikings also have quite a few positive trends through the first 3 games. The most positive of them all is the performance(s) of superstar RB Adrian Peterson, who is doing all the things the NFL’s best RB should be able to do.
Peterson rushed for 1,383 yard and 18 TDs a year ago and remained, for my money, the NFL’s best runner. But a bad habit of fumbling in big spots and the Vikings willingness to insert Chester Taylor into important spots such as 3rd downs and late-game passing situations yielded some criticism for young #28. Judging by his performance so far in 2009, Peterson took those criticisms to heart and through 3 games there really isn’t much to criticize in his game.
Peterson’s latest performance was his best, as he ripped through the Detroit Lions defense for 160 yards and 2 TDs on 23 carries. He’s now the NFC’s leading rusher and is ranked 2nd in the NFL with 392 yards. Only Houston’s Arian Foster has more rushing yards (406) and no one in the NFC is within sight of Peterson (Ahmad Bradshaw has 253 rushing yards). On top of that, Peterson is averaging 5.6 yards per rush and 130.7 yards per game, numbers that both represent dramatic improvements from a season ago. Against the Lions on Sunday, Peterson displayed his game-breaking speed by bolting up the middle, bouncing outside and out-running everyone to the endzone for an 80-yard score, the longest of his career and the 4th-longest in team history.
But being an all-purpose back and also the best RB in the league is about more than racking up rushing yards and scoring TDs. While Peterson has had no problem with either of those tasks in 2010, he’s also been a factor in the Vikings passing game. Peterson had 5 receptions for 30 yards on Sunday against Detroit and he now has 13 receptions on the season, putting him on pace for 69 catches this season, a total that will smash his previous career high in receptions (43). In addition to his pass-catching contributions, Peterson has also been on the field frequently in 3rd down situations and a number of times he’s been the one to pick up a blitzing defender to buy QB Brett Favre extra time to convert a 3rd down pass.
In talking with my buddy Paul Allen – voice of the Vikings Radio Network – after Sunday’s win over Detroit, I thought he may have used the best adjective to describe Peterson’s performance on the season so far. He called it “professional,” which I think is appropriate because Peterson is doing all of the things you expect a professional RB to do. He’s picking up yardage as a rusher on the ground and he’s pulling his weight in the passing game both as a receiver and blocker.
On top of everything I just mentioned, Peterson has also (knock on wood) not fumbled the ball this year. This offseason much of the talk about Peterson was not about the fact that he owns 3 of the top 4 single-season rushing totals in Vikings history or that he set a team record and led the NFL in rushing TDs last year with 18. It was about his fumbling issues – he had 7 fumbles and lost 6 of them last year – and whether or not he could resolve that issue.
It’s only been 3 games, but so far so good in the fumbling department. Peterson seems conscious of protecting the ball and that mental awareness has not hindered his physical abilities. He’s displaying the running form we’ve become accustomed to and also the running form that has made him the best RB in the NFL.
Tags: Adrian Peterson
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 18 Comments »