Peterson wants more balance in offense

Adrian Peterson believes the best way to improve the running game is through the passing game. The statistics show where improvements there have come and where there is still a long way to go.

What's the best way to turn Adrian Peterson onto a streak of 100-yard games?

According to the NFL MVP, the best way to help the running game is by having a balanced offense.

"It's tough any time you're not balanced as an offense," Peterson said on a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters. "Taking that stronghold, just running the ball, when we're not being efficient in the passing game we've got to run it. Me, being the runner, I definitely prefer a more balanced offense because it opens things up for the run and vice-versa for the pass."

Through three games, the Vikings have attempted 100 passes, tied for 23rd among all NFL teams. The Cleveland Browns are highest with 145 attempts (including 55 against an injury-riddled Vikings secondary on Sunday) and Seattle is lowest at 81.

There doesn't appear to be a correlation between more or less passes when compared to winning, and the Vikings have already improved their standing in explosive pass plays. Last year, that was one of the biggest criticisms of QB Christian Ponder, but so far the Vikings are tied for ninth with 13 passing plays of 20 yards or more. Last year, they finished last in the league with 28 passing plays of 20 yards or more in 16 games.

But their improvement there doesn't appear to be having an effect yet on the opposition's focus on Peterson. He continues to repeatedly see defenses with eight men stacked near the line of scrimmage focused on stopping him.

"Any time the offense is not able to be efficient and consistent in the pass game, especially a running team, it makes it harder because a defense can make you one-dimensional and they can focus on stopping the run," Peterson said. "That's why we try to focus on being more balanced and getting our receivers and the quarterback on the same page so we're able to be more efficient as an offense, running and passing the ball."

To date, that has still been a bit streaky, especially when it comes to scoring. The Vikings have only two passing touchdowns – only Jacksonville has fewer – and the fourth-most interceptions thrown (five).

That combination makes it easier for defenses to focus on Peterson, who has "only" 281 yards, fifth in the league. His yardage total has led some to believe that he is behind the torrid pace he set last year on his way to 2,097 yards.

That mark will be hard to reach, for sure. No player in the history of the NFL has ever had two 2,000-yard rushing seasons, much less back-to-back. In order to get there now, Peterson would have to average more than 132 yards rushing in his final 13 games. But he is actually ahead of his three-game output at the start of last season, when he had 230 yards after three weeks.

"No panic at all," he said when asked about his pace, saying he just found out Tuesday he was ahead of last year's total after three games. "It'll pick up. We have played some good defenses in the past three weeks. There have been some missed opportunities out there that I was able to look at and just shake my head because (they could have been) home runs. You factor those in and we aren't talking about where I'm at personally with yardage. I feel like things are starting to open up for us."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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