VU: The Adrian Peterson-LaDainian Tomlinson comparisons, what are your thoughts on those? There are those in the locker room that say the skills are similar but that A.P. has to prove himself over a long period of time. What are your thoughts?
BL: A.P. is still a rookie and obviously an awful good one and I think he'll probably win Rookie of the Year. But when you look at L.T., he's a seasoned veteran, a Hall of Famer who can do it all. He loves to run that play to the defense's right or the offense's left side. The defense knows it coming – they know it's coming – and he still gets away with it. They're still successful running that particular play. I think the Vikings have shown recently that if defenses attack them a certain way, either they don't have the quarterback to get the defense out of the particular call to stop Adrian, or Adrian hasn't got the vision as good as L.T. does to make the adjustments. It's kind of a negative, but it isn't meant that way. It's just that a veteran, obviously a Hall of Fame veteran, has to be better than the rookie, and it's going to be interesting to compare the two this week. You watch L.T. when he runs to his left.
VU: What about the use of Peterson? Do you think they should run more screen passes or try to get him split out in the slot at all, just to try to get him away from the teeth of the defense?
BL: Without a doubt. You want to get Adrian Peterson one-on-one with a linebacker or a defensive back. We've all seen and it's just been breathtaking once he gets through that line of scrimmage to watch him take on the linebackers and defensive backs. So, set him up. If you can get him in that situation one-on-one, you're playing to his strength. When you're an offensive coordinator, you've got to take each individual – 11 of them – and do the best you can to get them to play to their strengths. Don't play to a player's weakness, especially if they're going to throw eight in the box – they almost had nine in the box at times – then see if he can sneak through there and find a way to get him one-on-one with the defensive back seven.
VU: A few weeks ago, after he had the 224-yard game against Chicago, there was talk about Peterson possibly being able to go after the rookie record (1,808 yards by Eric Dickerson). Do you see that as being a possibility anymore at this point?
BL: The season is not half over and he's got 740 yards. After this game Sunday, if he's around the 900-yard mark, without a doubt. Because as the season goes on, he's young and he'll get stronger and as some of these team that come and have already cashed it in, that's going to give you a better opportunity with his attitude, which is great, to really turn on some yards in the latter half of the season.
VU: I know one of the things you always talk about is the rookie wall. Do you think that could be a factor for him?
BL: Once again, it goes back to the coaches. Everybody knows I think 60 or 65 percent of the game is coaching. Don't give him too much. Don't take away his instincts. He's got that God-given talent, and once a player starts thinking and they take away his God-given talent, he slows down. The worst thing that can happen to you in this game is if you do slow down. You're trying to play hard all the time and play fast enough that the game will slow down for you, where you start to see things over and over and you can react to them quicker. I've lived that lesson there, and felt the game, as it came to me, slow down. I never understood it until I lived it. Don't give him too much and let's hope that when he hits that sophomore jinx or that rookie wall that it's not too severe.
VU: Do you think the offensive struggles in general are almost all on the quarterback position and until they get that solved they're not really going to be able to judge anything else?
BL: They always say a quarterback takes too much credit for wins and too much criticism for losing, but, yeah, it falls right now on the quarterback and the receivers. They can't be on the same page. You've got a hot call and the receivers aren't getting separation and Tarvaris Jackson – you can say all you want about potential, potential, potential, but potential gets you nowhere. He's got a 48 passer rating and right now it's definitely on the offense, and I lay it mostly on the quarterback. We don't have a quarterback that can light it up. Right now, if they wouldn't say I'll give a first- and third-rounder for Derek Anderson from Cleveland, that would be a steal. That would turn this whole team, it would bring everything together. I don't see anything positive yet in Tarvaris. Is he choking? Is he thinking too much? Is he way over his head? You can say all those things because he has shown me absolutely nothing. What is his strong point? Maybe scrambling, but I haven't seen that because he's been hurt. It's been a terrible experiment and Coach Childress has had Tarvaris for two years, and if he doesn't pick it up in the next few games – and by pick it up, I mean just show me some strength that you have on a Sunday. I don't care what you do in practice all week. Some players can't play in the National Football League. Too much pressure. Just show me something, and he doesn't show me a thing. He's a nice kid and everything, but if you're in the National Football League, he's representing a franchise basically.
VU: On that note, how do players, at 2-5, stay positive?
BL: That's a part that a younger team, they're just glad to be there and they'll keep working harder and harder to walk through it. The veteran, he needs a boost during the game. In other words, if he comes out and is saying, ‘We haven't got a chance for anything' and then the adrenaline starts flowing during the game and you get the hope of beating somebody – the offense makes a big play or the defense makes a big play – then you go, ‘Hey, we can win today.' Then your whole attitude comes back. Now it's competition. Sometimes as the season goes on, it's tough for the old veterans to get up, but I know they have to. But they need a little energy applied to them, the right bounce in a game to get them rocking and rolling and enjoy what they've got.
Bob Lurtsema was a 12-year veteran defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins VikingUpdate.com for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.
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