In the aftermath of yet another Vikings' loss in Tampa Bay, Minnesota Vikings' head coach Brad Childress was asked why it was that, on critical drives in the fourth quarter, the Vikings' most valuable offensive weapon, Adrian Peterson, was on the sidelines rather than in the game.
"I don't even know that he was," Childress almost assuredly lied. "I don't know how many offensive plays we ran in the entire fourth quarter--four, maybe five," the coach guessed. "My guess is that whatever we did was nothing out of the ordinary."
For the record, the Vikings ran eight offensive plays in the fourth quarter with Peterson on the field for two and carrying the ball on one. On the final two drives, with the game on the line, Peterson stood on the sidelines next to running back's coach Eric Bieniemy appearing quite animated and perturbed about not being in the game.
What Peterson apparently did not realize was that it was the fourth quarter and the game was on the line. Where else ought he have expected to be? A player that made Green Bay's defense look hopeless over seventy yards of a game-winning drive one week earlier surely was no match for a Buccaneers' defense that had allowed him to gallop for seventy yards in the first half of Sunday's game.
Some might argue that Peterson and his 4.5-yards-per-rush was a better option at running back at any time in the fourth quarter than was Chester Taylor, the man in the backfield for all eight feeble offensive plays in the fourth quarter. But that would require overlooking the fact that the Vikings were in passing mode for much of the fourth quarter and that Taylor had 2 receptions for 15 yards to Peterson's 1 for -3 yards on Sunday. Clearly, on the basis of this sample alone, Taylor was the more logical choice.
Others, willing to concede Taylor's superiority to Peterson in the backfield with the game on the line, might note that Peterson could have been used as a second running back rather than as a lone back. But, as coach Childress has informed us on several occasions, "A.P. doesn't like another guy back there with him." That would be that, of course, as a head coach certainly is not allowed to substitute his judgment for that of a player's. But there is the added issue that using two running backs would have meant using only one receiver as the Vikings were in a two-tight end set for most of the fourth quarter.
Some might also argue that, rather than line Peterson up in the backfield beside Taylor, the Vikings could have made use of Peterson as a slot receiver. This, of course, is the most infantile of all claims. On Sunday, such a move would have meant pushing to the bench Bobby Wade and his two receptions--double Peterson's receptions on Sunday. The "chart" said to use Wade. Common sense suggested forcing Tampa Bay to defend against Peterson.
On Sunday, Childress once again consulted his chart. That left Peterson on the sidelines when the Vikings' offense most needed him.
But that's nothing out of the ordinary.
Up Next: More Ordinary Results.