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VT’s OPOY and MVP: Adrian Peterson

Vikings Territory asked, and the readers spoke; in this series of articles, the team will announce the winners of our fan-voted awards, from the Minnesota Vikings’ MVP of 2015 to the Defensive Player of the Year. Today, a look at the dual-winner of  VT’s final two awards.

Adrian Peterson, RB — Minnesota Vikings

Adrian Peterson is the Minnesota Vikings’ most productive offensive weapon, but also their most divisive. It’s his style of running that makes it so easy to love and hate Peterson at the same time. One play, he’ll lose yards after a few too many jump cuts. And the next, he’ll burst through the line of scrimmage for an 80-yard touchdown run.

It’s the same story on a game-to-game, and even season-to-season basis. Against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1 this year, he looked indecisive, rushing for 31 yards on 10 carries. The very next week, at home versus the Detoit Lions, he eclipsed 130 yards and looked like the Peterson of old. Well, Peterson pre-2014, when he missed 15 games while serving a league-mandated suspension stemming from child abuse charges.

Peterson is the king of the comeback, with a history of ups-and-downs that span his entire nine-year career. Last season’s rushing title came after a year off from football, and his 2012 MVP Award represented a miraculous recovery from the ACL tear he suffered the season before. Few expected he’d win the rushing title at 30 years-old, but Peterson’s proven time and time again that expectations mean little for him on the football field.

Whether you like Peterson or want him traded from the team, there’s no doubt he was the fulcrum of Norv Turner’s offense. The running back led the league in carries, rushing yards, rushing yards per game, and rushing touchdowns this season in a scheme built around his transcendent talents. As Thomas Bassinger pointed out on Twitter this week, the Vikings led the league in rushing play percentage on first down; Turner planned to get the ball in Peterson’s hands and in his hands early.

The plan worked, as Peterson’s 1,485 rushing yards were the third highest total of his career. He was consistently dominant stat-wise, but also hurt the team in an all-too-familiar fashion; fumbles.

Over the course of his career, Peterson’s fumbled the football 38 times (4.2 times per season). That unforgiving mark gives Peterson the second-most fumbles among active running backs, and one of his seven in 2015 couldn’t have come at a worse time. In the fourth quarter of the Vikings’ playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, Peterson caught a pass and turned upfield, only to have the ball stripped away while fighting for extra yards. The Seahawks turned his fumble into points, kicking the ultimate game-winning field goal to go up 10-9.

Despite the fumbles, the deficiencies in pass protection, and the inabilities as a pass catcher, Peterson still garnered enough votes to win two VT awards. He took home 53.2 percent of the vote for Offensive Player of the Year and in a much tighter race, 26.81 percent of the vote for Most Valuable Player.

Readers and fans recognize the greatness of Peterson. He’s a lock to make the Hall of Fame when his career is over, and he’s the catalyst that drove Minnesota’ offensive machine in 2015. But in 2016 and beyond, Peterson may not play as integral a role behind Teddy Bridgewater. It’s a problem Mike Zimmer and his coaching staff will need to solve this offseason; can Bridgewater and Peterson coexist, or does the offense need to run Peterson into the ground?

Right now, the “Peterson Problem” is a good one to have. Congratulations, Adrian.

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Austin Belisle

Austin Belisle is the West Coast's biggest Vikings fan, a football diehard cheering on the purple and yellow from sunny California. After graduating from San Jose State University in 2014, he began working full-time in corporate marketing and blogging on various sports websites. Austin's passion for the Vikings led him to Vikings Territory, where he hopes to share his lifelong enthusiasm for the team with readers on a daily basis. You can follow him on Twitter @austincbelisle

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  1. Yeah..! So can he prove..? He can shine in BIG, BIG GAME..? And don’t fumble!! Like in the NFC Championship game with # 4 at the helm. And AP fumble!! At the Goal line and not once, but twice!! And if he had gone and get that TD! At the goal line we would have had a big lead and the momentum of the game! And would have won and gone to the SB! But as of now, he too old to learn new tricks! And like the Police way of saying and the smart ppl say.. There is a pattern.. And that is..AP, is due to fumble!! Especially at a Crucial time! Sorry.. I am a fan of AP, and he is the best RB of all time and I am glad that he was a part of us fans here in MN. for so long now, but I am not going to let that blind me, from what is really happening? That is in the big games, he doesn’t come through for the Vikings and the fans. Look at how Larry Fitzgerald did in that game against Green Bay on Jan 16 – NFL Divisional Round. AP has to be that kind of player for a super star RB and that kind of money? But he has not and the sad thing is.. some of us are letting that blind us!! AP, is not a good blocker, not a good catcher coming out of the back. And he is not good in a Shotgun formation! And he is not 25 any more and he is just one dimension RB. and the new way of the NFL these days. You have to be able to block, catch, and run and be versatile ! And AP is not!! Time to trade him while we still can..Especially AP, just coming off a rushing title!! Even if is just a 3rd! But try for 2nd if we can. And also most recent game when we play the Seahawks..look how he fumble and the time when he fumble? At the time we most needed to get some momentum going and that drive would of done it! But he seems to find ways of how to screw up at the Crucial time! And in that Seahawks vs Panthers game, Seattle offense got better in the 2nd half without game planned around Lynch! And they almost made a come back to win it! So did we on that game when AP got hurt on that play against the Giants and with Jerick McKinnon in the game. The announcer even calls that out that Vikings offense was a much better team without AP!! And I have to agree with that!! We are a better offense without AP. Some of us fans just want to be blind by it cause he is the best RB of all time! But any way, no excuse for being a superstar RB!! Big game super stars have to do it or why get the big money? AP’s time is coming to a close. And we need to move on…And Adapt to NFL nows a day!!

  2. Let’s take a look at what Peterson did this year, in context of what will be required for the Vikings to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy.

    2015 regular season stats: 16 games, 1485 yards, 327 carries, 4.5 yards per carry.

    Against teams with winning records: 6 games, 340 yards, 105 carries, 3.2 yards per carry.

    Against the rest of the schedule: 10 games, 1145 yards, 222 carries, 5.2 yards per carry.

    Assessment: Peterson is not a big game player. He is nothing more than a stat padder.

    Cross check vs Peterson’s career accomplishments: Viking Super Bowl appearances during his career – 0. Peterson winning the rushing title – 3.

    Cross check vs 2015 post season: 1 game vs an opponent with a winning record, 45 yards, 23 carries, 2.0 yards per carry.

    Assessment confirmed: stat padder

    If the fans really want to pick a stat padder as the MVP, they should at least choose Bridgewater, as he threw for 3,231 yards. He simply produced 218% of the yards produced by Peterson. Even in the worse case scenario (which I do not believe), Bridgewater is a much more prolific stat padder.

    1. This is really thorough work, Mike. Thanks for sharing, and I agree with you. It’s part of the reason I believe the Vikings need to cut ties with Peterson and take the franchise in a new direction. The addition of Shurmur to the staff shows they’re ready to hitch their wagon to Teddy.

    2. This coming from a guy who said, at the beginning of this season, Peterson wouldn’t be able to get 150 yards vs a high school team…..don’t go denying, Mike.
      How’d that work out for ya?
      I understand that he’s gettin older, but remember…just when everyone says he’s done….yeah.
      No SB appearances? How many have the Vikings had as a team in the last…..40 years! WOW! Some real thorough stuff there. Look, I really like Teddy….but this is the NFL. Better get used to being able to take snaps under center.
      All I’m saying is, a guy gets damn near 1500 yards, and he’s the reason we’re not in the big game? No. Hey, it might end up being a great thing to trade him…I don’t know. I don’t know the future. I just know if you want to bet against this guy still being a great RB? My advice….don’t do it.