As the floodgate of NFL preview magazines and fantasy football publications hit the streets, a lot of talk is about Adrian Peterson. Stop by any bookstore or grocery store magazine rack and there he is – about a dozen times. Someone you won't see is Chester Taylor. But maybe you should.
There is every reason to love Peterson. He's the most electrifying talent Vikings fans have seen since they first set eyes on Randy Moss. He sent the message that he can be a game-changer in his NFL debut, when he ran for 100 yards and caught a screen pass he took for a 60-yard touchdown that put the game vs. Atlanta effectively out of reach. He set a franchise record for rushing against the Bears with 224 yards. Three weeks later, he broke the NFL record with 296 yards. But what about Taylor? He may have been more of a barometer of team success than anyone. Consider the following performance from the Vikings' running back who is now a backup to Peterson:
Weeks 2 and 3 vs. Detroit and Kansas City – Taylor is injured and misses both games. The Vikings lose 20-17 to Detroit and 13-10 to the Chiefs.
Week 6 at Chicago – Peterson gets the headlines, but Taylor rushes 22 times for 83 yards. Vikings win 34-31.
Week 9 vs. San Diego – Again, A.D. is the hero, but Taylor rushes nine times for 60 yards and a touchdown. Vikings win 35-17.
Week 11 vs. Oakland – Peterson is out with a knee injury and Taylor is the now the primary running option. He carries 22 times for 164 yards and three touchdowns. Vikings win 29-22.
Week 12 at New York Giants – With Peterson still on the mend, the Vikings score their biggest upset of the year. Taylor sets the 2007 high for rushing attempts by a Viking with 31 carries for 77 yards and a TD. Vikings win 41-17.
Week 13 vs. Detroit – Peterson returns and tops 100 yards, but Taylor carries 14 times for 70 yards and one touchdown. Vikings win 42-10.
Week 14 at San Francisco – Peterson carries 14 times for just 3 yards, but Taylor isn't as easy to stop. He rushes eight times for 101 yards and a touchdown. Viking win 27-7.
Week 17 at Denver – Peterson is again bottled up and Taylor does most of the damage on the ground, rushing 10 times for 83 yards. While the Vikings' comeback attempt in the fourth quarter falls short, Taylor does his part to make things happen.
Vikings fans love Peterson, and rightfully so, but the fact remains that Taylor's contribution was almost as critical to the team and may have been a more accurate yardstick of success. In the two games Taylor missed, the Vikings were 0-2. In the two games Peterson missed, the Vikings were 2-0. In the four games in which Taylor had more than 10 rushing attempts, the Vikings were 4-0. In the games in which he ran for 60 yards or more in a game, the Vikings were 6-1. In the games in which he scored touchdowns, the Vikings were 5-0.
We're with fans who think Peterson is the next big thing in the NFL, but Taylor's contribution shouldn't be overlooked. When he saw action, the team won. As a numbers guy, that shouldn't be lost on Brad Childress – play Chester and you win.
Taylor's Success Equals Vikings Victories
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