FYI- this is a real story. I got the much needed humor out last story. Also, I was sobbing as I wrote it, because I just wish it had been true.
Much ado has been made about Peterson’s disappearance in the second half of the Vikings’ recent games. Last game against Detroit? Five carries in the second half. Let me type that again to clarify lest you think I made a typo there- five. Five carries. Five.
Well, turns out Mr. Peterson’s father, Nelson Peterson, happens to agree with us. And as someone who probably knows The Man better than any of us, I’m going to take his word when he says his son is also in agreement. Join me after the leap of faith for The Man’s father’s words.
Nelson Peterson told Jeremy Fowler over at Pioneer Press- "I see the agony on his face. He was frustrated that they weren't going to him. He wanted to help them win the game. ...he was ready to lead them to a victory. He's being a good sport about it, but he's upset." He also called his son the "highest paid decoy" in the NFL.
I’ve been in agreement with those around here who think part of the reason he’s disappeared in the second half is due to the tremendous workload he’s been taking in the first. We certainly don’t want to overwork the man, particularly to the point of injury- at which point, G-d forbid, we’d officially be front-runners in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
That said, if AP himself thinks he’s being underutilized, then there’s less merit to the argument. AP knows his limits. Granted, he’s a ferocious workhorse- I would imagine if he had his way, he’d play every snap of an NFL game- and that includes defensive snaps. (Maybe he could play safety? He couldn’t do worse than Tyrell Johnson.) Still, if he feels he’s being underutilized, then he’s being underutilized. This is a team player, not a showboat or a ‘me’ kinda guy. He will do what’s best for the Minnesota Vikings, because he wants his team to win more than he wants to inflate his stats. So if he thinks he’s being underutilized… he’s probably right. No wait… 0-3… he is right.
As a side note- pretty nice to have a player who doesn’t, you know, take it easy after his big payday- the man wants to work more now. Huh. *cough* ChrisJohnson *cough* Excuse me, I had something in my throat. Moving along…
I do get that Adrian Peterson can make plays simply by being on the field, even if he doesn’t have the ball. Yes, he can provide one hell of a decoy, and that shouldn’t be overlooked in the game plan. If they stack eight in the box, by all means make it a play-action and get it out to Jenkins or Harvin. (If its Berrian then screw it, give AP the ball.) Of course, that’s something that requires a decent, halfway accurate QB… but that’s another discussion. Returning to the point, yes, I can understand using Peterson as a decoy from time to time. You will get some good results out of that, because teams will occasionally over-prepare for The Man, and will create openings elsewhere that can be taken advantage of. I do have to say that one of the most frustrating things of the Childress era… which says a lot… is how that never happened. It seemed that every time AP was in the backfield, you knew he was getting the ball. He is sheer awesomeness in the shape of a man, but that kind of stupidity allows teams like the New York Giants to put nine- not eight, nine- men in the box, and even AP can’t handle that.
But there’s using him from time to time as a decoy to keep defenses honest and scrambling through their playbooks, and then there’s using one of the best playmakers on the offensive side of the ball in the entire NFL almost solely as a decoy, and that’s no bueno. (That’s Spanish for ‘If Bill Musgrave keeps this up, he’d better brush up his resume’.)
And there’s resting AP from time to time and giving Gerhart his moments- and he’s certainly proved, IMO, that he deserves them- and then there’s making Gerhart your go-to guy ahead of AP. OK, I get it, I understand why with a crucial one yard play we decided to pull the bait-and-switch. I said it. I was ok with the play, even if it didn’t work out. Hell, Peterson did pick up the blitz against Tampa when Ronde Barber, one of the best blitzing CBs in the league, came to try and get McNabb- it was one helluva pick up, too, with AP absolutely stuffing Barber. I’m sure AP is fine showing his blocking skills from time to time, the man is all about showcasing his incredible talent. So again, there is the right time to use Peterson outside of the RB situation, be it to pass block or even just as a decoy.
But are we going too far with this? No, there’s no poll. The answer is yes, and if you think it’s no, you’re wrong. Why? Because we’re 0-3, and we’re the first team in NFL history to lose its first three games with double-digit leads at halftime. Ergo, we are misusing Adrian Peterson in the second half, and that’s just plain obvious because at the end of the day, our offense is built around him. Jenkins is around for his good hands and run blocking abilities. Harvin is quite the slot-receiver, best perhaps in the NFL (I will entertain the argument that Wes Welker, and only Wes Welker, could compete with him for it), but even still, the offense revolves around AP. Even our tight end sets are designed to help open up the run game and keep defenses honest.
If AP would like to go ahead and continue earning his huge payday in the second half, I think that the discussion is closed. Let’s let him do just that. There’s no more excuse now not to- AP himself wants it. The fans want it. And most importantly- the team needs it. And if things don’t start turning around soon, certain members of the coaching staff may need it too.