Vikings Positional Analysis: Running Backs

The Vikings' hope of making a Super Bowl run in 2008 is being tied directly to the success of the their running game. With Adrian Peterson becoming the most electifying offensive player to enter the league in years, the Vikings may well have the best running game in the league.

A year ago at this time, Vikings fans (and even players and teammates) were excited about the prospect of what Adrian Peterson could bring to the offense. But, at the same time, there were some question marks as to what impact he could have on the offense.

All of those questions were answered last year, as Peterson instantly became the best running back the Vikings have had since the end of the Robert Smith era and the most dominant since the heyday of Chuck Foreman. He almost single-handedly transformed the Vikings into the most effective running game in the league, as the Vikes averaged more than five yards a carry most of the season.

Not only did A.D. bring the explosive dimension to the offense, he made Chester Taylor a better running back as a result. In his first season as a Viking, Taylor often looked tentative hitting the hole. There were times last year when fans seeing Taylor taking a handoff with authority mistook him for Peterson because of the newfound speed and aggression that he brought to his own game. The Vikings now have as formidable a 1-2 punch in the running game as any team in the league.

The position is one that is in a certain element of flux, because the team allowed Mewelde Moore and fullback Tony Richardson to leave via free agency. Moore was replaced by Maurice Hicks, who can serve the role of third-down or change-of-pace back as well as giving the Vikings something in the return game, while Thomas Tapeh was tabbed as the lead blocker for both Peterson and Taylor. While Richardson's leadership will be missed – Peterson was quoted after the season as saying nobody had a more pronounced effect on his development during his rookie season that T-Rich – the young, more aggressive Tapeh will keep the level of play on the field from suffering any sort of significant drop-off.

The Vikings enter 2008 with Peterson envisioning a 2,000-yard season and the likelihood that he will achieve those goals. This has become one of the top strengths of the Vikings and should remain so this season. If the Vikings are going to regain the top spot in the NFC North, it will be thanks in part to the large contributions to the offense made by the running backs. It has been a long time since the Vikings have been this dominant on the ground and it has become the shining star of the team's offense.


  • Former Viking wide receiver Koren Robinson was released by the Packers Friday. It became clear that Robinson's role was going to diminish with the retirement of Brett Favre, with whom Robinson had become close in his short stint with the Packers. That, combined with the drafting of Jordy Nelson with the team's first pick in the 2008 draft, may have set the tone for Friday's move.

  • Vikings fans may have got some good news from the Chargers in relation to their own fight for a stadium. When developer Ed Roski unveiled a plan for a new stadium in Los Angeles that had purple seats, visions of Peterson breaking long TDs for the L.A. Vikings made some a little sick to their stomachs. But, it now looks like San Diego could be the team in their sights. The Chargers have tried and failed to partner with the city to get a new stadium deal and are currently exhausting their chances to get a deal done with county officials. If those fail, the option of moving north to L.A. becomes more of a possibility by the day. Here's hoping their stadium talks break down and Los Angeles finally gets out of the nightmares of Vikings fans.

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