Toby Gerhart’s career-setting performance against the Redskins last Sunday – 22 carries for 76 yards and his 1st career TD – allowed interim coach Leslie Frazier to continue his run-first offensive approach even after All-Pro RB Adrian Peterson was sidelined with an ankle injury during the 2nd quarter.
And Gerhart’s number may be called upon again to pace the ground game this Sunday at Mall of America Field against the Buffalo Bills with Peterson held out of Wednesday’s practice and his availability for game day in question.
Regardless of who shoulders the load for the Vikings rushing attack, a big game may be in the works against a struggling Bills run defense.
The Bills boast a league-worst run defense, allowing 167.4 yards per game – more than 20 yards allowed than the 31st ranked Arizona Cardinals. Opposing offenses have taken notice to these numbers over the course of the season, with the Bills defense averaging a league-leading 36.0 rushing attempts against per game.
The Vikings posted a run-pass ratio of 38-23 against the Redskins and that proportion may take an even more lop-sided number against the Bills. On Wednesday, Frazier emphasized the importance of being able to control the ball on the ground and how that translates to players buying into his offensive approach.
“I remember in the (Redskins) game John Sullivan came up to me after the first series and he said, ‘Let’s keep running that ball; keep running that ball!’” Frazier recalled. “To me that’s a confirmation that they’re buying in. Our offensive line, they like it. We know that if we get into a situation where we have to throw the football, we’ve got a great quarterback and we’ve got wide receivers that can do that.
“Like I said before, we’re at our best when we’re running the ball and stopping the run. That’s who we are. That’s our identity. Our offensive line loves it. I’m sure Adrian also likes it.”
I can’t speak for either Gerhart or Peterson, but I can be almost certain that both are well aware of the struggles the Bills defense is having against the rushing attack. This awareness just might translate to impressive numbers come Sunday and you can bet that the Vikings RBs will be determined to establish themselves in front of a boisterous Mall of America Field crowd.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Leslie Frazier, Toby Gerhart
Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 17 Comments »