It's been eight games--half a season--since Minnesota Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson last eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the regular season. Over those eight games, Peterson has averaged 19 carries per game, with a high of 26 carries and a low of nine. When the Vikings have faced stronger run defenses, Peterson has tended, however slightly, to have more receiving opportunities. Given an otherwise limited passing game, that latter approach ought to prevail today against a Miami Dolphins team that his good against the run but below average against the pass.
Using Peterson out of the backfield was the mantra on this site prior to last week's sub-standard offensive showing against the New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately, the Vikings' coaching staff failed to heed this call, going to Peterson a mere three times out of the backfield and opting for players such as the otherwise invisible Bernard Berrian on far too many other occasions.
In addition to having a sure-handed back the likes of Marshall Faulk coming out of the backfield, what bodes well for the Vikings' use of Peterson as an open-field receiver is that it plays directly to the Vikings' offensive line strength--or weakness, if you will. The key to a successful screen play is allowing the defensive linemen to believe that they have beaten their blocks. For the Vikings, no sell job is even required as 3/5 of the offensive line is routinely beaten. All that is required is for Peterson to slip out of the backfield, also, another relatively easy task as Peterson clearly despises lingering in the backfield.
What was said last week bears repeating. For every two screen plays that the Vikings run to Peterson, Minnesota can chalk up seven points. It seems so simple. Yet, for coaches who insist on convincing fans that they have known best all along and that Peterson, despite his "great hands" and statistics to the contrary, cannot catch the ball, its been a Sisyphusian exercise. Last week would have been a good time to disengage from that exercise, this week might prove mandatory in that respect.
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