Like many of you here, when I watched Adrian Peterson go down in today’s game against the Redskins, I feared the worst. Seeing him writhing in pain, kicking his leg over and over into the turf was about all I could handle after everything we’ve gone through this season as fans of the Minnesota Vikings. I stared at the screen, almost in a state of shock thinking about what this means for AP and the team. Then, when Christian Ponder came out with a concussion, my only response was, “Please, can the season end right now? Do we really have to play the Bears next week?” I can't help but think that we are running out of players this year. After hearing reports that AP might have a torn ACL, I wanted to throw my hands up, and throw in the towel. How much more can we take this year?
But, then I started looking for the silver lining, if there was one. And I remembered, hey, we got a win today. We’re not the worst team in Vikings history! At worst, we’ll tie the worst team in Vikings history (that was the ’84 team under Les Steckel, who went 3-13). And I thought to myself, damn, we’ve got excellent backups at the QB and RB position, because Joe Webb and Toby Gerhart really showed up for us, again, and willed us to win. And you know what? All is not lost. Check out this list of "10 Items of Optimism" that I took after the game today:
1. Rookie Mistral Raymond ended the Vikings interception drought, catching a poorly thrown Rex Grossman pass in the 4th quarter. The past two games, he has shown up big for our depleted secondary. In the stat department Raymond has recorded 18 tackles, 3 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery and now an interception, in just 6 games (4 as a starter). His personal story is even more inspiring.
2. 2nd year running back Toby Gerhart gained more than 100 yards on the ground for the first time in his short career. On top of that, he is averaging 4.9 yards per rush this season.
3. Joe Webb lead the Vikings to a win, throwing two TDs to Harvin and Rudolph, and running one in himself. Once again, Webb shows he has the “it” factor and sparked the offense, picking up 34 yards on 5 carries. He has either thrown or rushed for 5 TDs with limited action in 4 games and 1 other start.
4. The win today makes it impossible for us to secure the #1 seed as the Colts would have tiebreaker in S.O.S., even if we did manage to tie them after next week, and therefore takes us out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes (this is a good thing, we already have 2 young, promising QBs in Ponder and Webb)
5. ACL Tears are significant injuries for running backs, but not necessarily career ending. It may take 2 years for Peterson to return to prominence on the field, and he may never be the same, but if it is an ACL tear, Peterson CAN still be a productive back and a significant part of our team. Consider a list of the following running backs who returned from ACL tears to have productive seasons:
1. Curt Warner, SEA 1983 (returned to produce 3 more 1,000+ yard seasons)
2. Terry Allen, MIN 1993 (returned to produce 3 more 1,000+ yard seasons)
3. Jamal Anderson, ATL 1998 (returned to produce 1 more 1,000+ yard season)
4. Edgerrin James, IND/ARI 2000 (returned to produce 5 more 1,000+ yard seasons)
5. Jamal Lewis, BAL 2001 (returned to produce 6 more 1,000+ yard seasons, including one 2,000)
If anyone in the NFL can do it, Adrian Peterson can. The guy is a freak of nature.
6. We are still guaranteed a top 6 draft pick in the 2012 draft. The Vikings have a lot of holes to fill, and we will surely be able to do just that regardless of who we draft.
7. With McNabb being cut, and Kleinsasser retiring, at the very least we’ll have upwards of $12 million to work with for next year for free agents. It will likely go higher assuming a few other vets are either cut or restructured (Winfield, Griffin, E.J. Henderson, Shiancoe topping the list).
8. Percy Harvin is a beast, and again racked up over 100 yards from scrimmage plus a touchdown. This guy is sure to get a payday heading into next season.
9. Everson Griffen, the largest special teams gunner in the NFL, *almost* came down with another interception today playing coverage. This guy will surely have a larger role on the team next year, assuming the defensive coaches can figure out how to get him involved. He’s developing into another one of our “swiss army knife” type players.
10. Jared Allen moved 1 sack closer to breaking Strahan’s record. It’s going to be tough, but he gets Caleb Hanie next week, and needs 4 to tie. He’s had 4.5 sacks in a game exactly once (10/05/09 against GB).
Let’s keep our heads up Vikings fans. Hopefully we’ll come out of the Chicago game next week less worse for wear, and we can begin looking ahead to the 2012 season. Believe it or not, all is not lost.