The Minnesota Vikings have made the decision to stick with Christian Ponder as their starting quarterback, but the lack of production out of the passing game is affecting the running game, Adrian Peterson said.
Through 10 games, the Vikings have had just as many games in which their starting quarterback had a passer rating under 60 as they have over 100 – two each. With the reigning NFL MVP as their running back, defenses are logically focusing on Peterson.
"Any time you're not consistent at the quarterback position it impacts the entire team. Not just me. But the run plays off the pass and vice versa," Peterson said. "So when you're not really passing the ball that well, teams can focus on the run, especially when you're a run team first. So it makes it difficult when the quarterback play is not up to par."
For the season, Ponder has completed 63.7 percent of his passes for six touchdowns and nine interceptions for a 74.9 passer rating. He has a 1-6 record as a starter.
The occasional replacements haven't been much better. Josh Freeman started only one game, completed only 37.7 percent of his passes with no touchdowns and one interception for a 40.6 rating. Matt Cassel has a 1-1 record in his two starts and completed 64.8 percent of his passes for four touchdowns, three interceptions and an 86.1 rating.
The lack of consistent quarterback play is leading to defenses stacking the line of scrimmage with defenders.
"Definitely I've seen it more this year. It's expected. It's the NFL. Defensive coordinators are going to try to attack your strength," Peterson said. "That's what teams have been doing."
Through 10 games, Peterson has 851 yards rushing and nine touchdowns, averaging just 4.4 yards per carry. That 4.4-yard average is also tied for his career low. Ironically, the other time he was that low was in 2009, when he had Brett Favre as his quarterback.
Peterson knows the focus is going to be on him every game.
"Each week that I go in, I'm like, this team is coming in to stop the run. Period. That's what they're coming to do," Peterson said. "I get my mind ready for that and I go out and try to execute to the best of my ability.
Despite the team's struggles in the passing game, Peterson maintains confidence that Ponder can turn around his erratic season.
"I honestly feel like Christian can get the job done," Peterson said. "He's just got to have that breakthrough, you know? There's going to be things that we'll have to look at to be able to win a championship. There's things we'll have to look at and make some adjustments."
He said the Packers are the perfect example of being able to ride a strong quarterback like Aaron Rodgers to a good record and then struggling when they no longer have that dominant passer in place.
With Rodgers starting and healthy, the Packers started the season 5-2. Since losing him to injury on Nov. 4, they have dropped three straight games and scored a combined 46 points in those losses. With Rodgers, the Packers averaged 30.3 points in the first seven games; without him, they averaged 15.3.
"That's a perfect example. (Eddie) Lacy, he had come in and helped their running game tremendously. But it shows with Aaron Rodgers not back there how big of a difference he makes and what he means to that offense," Peterson said. "So that situation right there is a perfect one to look at."
Despite being 2-8, Peterson said he has endured more frustrating seasons, like the 3-13 campaign in 2011.
"Things were bad in the locker room along with that. This year, it's not that. The record is not what we want it to be, but guys are still sticking together," Peterson said. "Personally for me, it's been tough because we haven't been winning, but mentally I've been able to deal with it a lot better."
Mentally, Peterson may be doing better than he was in 2011. As for his physical health, that's to be determined.
He has been dealing with a groin injury that caused him to miss practices last week and again on Wednesday.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Peterson: QB situation ‘impacts entire team'
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