“This guy’s crazy!” “This is just cheap click bait!” “Wow, this is just so disrespectful to Adrian Peterson!” Or maybe this guy is just smart?
After the Minnesota Vikings had announced Tuesday they would not exercise the 2017 option on Adrian Peterson’s contract, Bovada released odds on which team Peterson would join next (or if he’ll wind up staying in Minnesota on a new contract).
Bovada set odds on AP's destination. Still giving Minny a good shot.
— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) February 28, 2017
And would you look at that — the Green Bay Packers are chilling at 10/1 odds. You don’t think maybe, just maybe, Peterson could become a Packer?
AHHHHHHHHHHH MAKE IT STOP!
Before we jump to any rash conclusions, let’s think about this for a minute. Sure, watching Peterson don a green No. 28 jersey and bust into the end zone for a Packers touchdown would, for a brief moment, be living hell.
“Purple Jesus” has dominated the Packers ever since he entered the NFL in 2007. In fact, in 2012 alone, he totaled over 500 rushing yards in just three games against the Packers. In a season’s worth of games, Peterson has amassed 1,779 yards, 5.14 yards per carry and 13 rushing touchdowns against Minnesota’s hated foe. But over the course of a season or more, would Peterson teaming up with Aaron Rodgers and Co. work?
Peterson is arguably the greatest pure runner the NFL has ever seen. Only a handful—at most—of other running backs possess the combination of size, speed, and power Peterson did in his prime. But that type of rushing ability isn’t a necessity in the NFL anymore, and it certainly isn’t in Green Bay’s shotgun-heavy offense.
Aaron Rodgers just led the Packers to the NFC Championship game. They stormed back from a 4-6 record to win eight straight games and get to that point. And during that winning streak, Green Bay’s rushing attack was led by a wide receiver; Ty Montgomery wound up as Green Bay’s leading rusher in 2016 with 457 yards on the season.
In short, Green Bay has Aaron Rodgers. Head coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t run the ball 30 times a game because it’s not a necessity in Green Bay. The Packers run a high-octane, quick-paced scheme that features elements of Minnesota’s current offense under Pat Shurmur. Still, the shotgun, and offenses such as Green Bay’s, have never been a fit for Peterson, who’s always been more comfortable (and effective) lined up seven yards behind the quarterback.
Plus, in 2015, Peterson showed time and again that he needs volume carries to be effective. In attempts 1-10 of games that year, he only managed 3.6 yards per attempt. It was attempts 11-20 in which he found a rhythm, gaining 5.0 per pop on such carries. But how many times will Peterson surpass ten carries in a shotgun-heavy offense? Montgomery’s versatility makes him a more suitable threat in Green Bay’s standard offensive scheme.
And even if McCarthy does hand the ball to Peterson at a high volume, do we even know if he’ll produce the way he did in 2015? The three-time rushing champion’s athleticism is quickly deteriorating. He was dominant without great vision because of unusual traits. But those days are no longer. Peterson’s jump cuts have less bounce than before, and his burst through holes creates less separation than in his early years.
I’m not the only one who sees it.
Just passing along. GM on Adrian Peterson: "He's done. Burst is gone. He's serviceable now. That's the best a team could hope for."
— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) February 28, 2017
Peterson managed just 1.9 yards per carry average last season and appeared in just three games. That’s ONE-POINT-NINE yards per rush. Sure, the offensive line had plenty to do with that, but Jerick McKinnon (3.4) and Matt Asiata (3.3) were both able to dwarf Peterson’s mark with the same offensive line. Hmm.
Okay, now here’s a crazy hypothetical. Let’s say Peterson does somehow find a role in Green Bay and still has enough in the tank to produce adequately.
I would still want Peterson in green and gold. Why? Because there’s no way there’s enough room in the Lambeau Field locker room for the gigantic egos of both Rodgers and Peterson. Can you imagine how fun it’d be to watch that unfold? An old-fashioned running back who claims he’s earned an $18 million salary paired with the cockiest quarterback on the planet. What could go wrong?
This purpose of this post isn’t to bash Adrian Peterson. The man has been the cornerstone of the Vikings franchise for a decade. He carried a subpar team to the playoffs twice (2008 and 2012) and even won an MVP award. Nobody in their right mind would doubt Peterson’s place among the greats in Vikings history.
But for the future of the Vikings, it’s best if Peterson is in another uniform during the 2017 season. Although it might be tough to swallow at first, it’d be even better if that jersey was green and gold.