Without Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings, even at 2-0, have no chance of contending for the playoffs.
Only they do.
That’s because Peterson, who averaged 1.6 yards per carry in two games this season, is a shell of his former self. The torn meniscus is bad for Peterson, but – as hard as it is to believe – it may actually be good for the Vikings’ on-field success this season.
“Well, there’s nowhere to go but up right now,” CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “That’s just the reality. They’re not running the ball a lick this season. Going back to Week 13 of last year – the last eight games Peterson has played – he’s averaging 2.9 a carry. I don’t need to tell you that’s well below the league average. It’s 2.0 yards per carry below his career average, and he’s gone over 67 yards once in the last half season. And this year, they’re struggling to get 2.0 yards a carry. When he’s on the field, you’re going to run your offense through him. That’s just the way it goes. He’s the alpha dog – and understandably so.”
Jerrick McKinnon and Matt Asiata will split touches in Peterson’s absence.
“I don’t think Jerrick McKinnon is a better back than Adrian Peterson in his prime,” La Canfora said. “I’m not positive he’s a better back than Adrian Peterson as they both stand right now. But behind that offensive line, with the inability to run between the tackles and with them probably needing to use the screen game to supplement or even become the run game – and needing someone who can catch the ball cleanly in space who can make someone miss, who’s a little more shifty laterally – I think it actually will help them in some ways.”
McKinnon rushed two times for two yards against Green Bay last Sunday, while Asiata rushed six times for 14. Both will need to be better going forward.
“They got 14 more games to play,” La Canfora said. “If they can’t run the ball in a more traditional fashion and Peterson is gone for the year, then yeah, I’m not trying to say McKinnon is better than Peterson. But the reality is Peterson is 31. When these guys hit the wall, they hit the wall hard. This will be possibly the third more or less lost year he’s had in the last five years if you count the ACL injury and the year he basically didn’t play after the child-abuse issues. Now this would be possibly a two-game season. He’s not making his $18 million there next year. And I think if you look at his body of work – again, not a short sample size; go back eight games – it hasn’t been pretty.”
Minnesota plays at Carolina (1-1) this Sunday at 1 p.m.