Adrian Peterson would carry the ball all day if the coaches let him, but in the NFL these days a running back tandem or committee is more the norm. Peterson continues to be the backfield workhorse, which is becoming rarer these days.
Here's a quick piece of 2009 NFL trivia for you to guess at. How many running backs have more carries than Adrian Peterson
's 40 this year?
While you think that over, Peterson maintained his NFL leadership in rushing with his 92 yards Sunday against Detroit, but a couple of huge performances around the league Sunday cut that lead significantly. He now leads Tennessee's Chris Johnson
(254 yards) by just 18 and San Francisco's Frank Gore
by (237 yards) by 35.
In an era where at least 20 teams have what could be considered a running back competition or a committee, the days of the workhorse running back have seemingly gone the way of the wishbone offense. Peterson clearly is the main man in the Vikings backfield, but the days of the 20-carry-a-game running back are vanishing.
It may not be as noticeable to Vikings fans because the NFC North doesn't have much in the way on running back-by-committee setups. Chicago has Matt Forte
. Detroit has Kevin Smith
. Green Bay has Ryan Grant
. But the NFC North is far from the norm and the results have been evident by the numbers.
At a time when quarterbacks get unprecedented protection and receivers can't be touched beyond five yards, the passing attacks of the NFL have replaced the 20-carry running back. Vikings fans should consider themselves fortunate that Peterson wants to carry the ball 20 times. He is becoming a throwback.
By the way, the four guys through two weeks that have more than 20 carries a game? Michael Turner
(50), Cedric Benson
(50), Mike Bell
(45) and Fred Jackson
(43) – not exactly the murderer's row of running backs.
Heading into Monday night's game, Brett Favre is second in the NFL in passer rating with a mark of 110.2. He trails only Drew Brees (132.9) in that category.
The Vikings used the Wildcat formation Sunday for one play – a direct snap to Percy Harvin that he handed to Peterson. It appeared as though the Vikings were going to try it a second time, because Favre went to the sidelines prior to that play, but getting the personnel out on the field took too long and, following the timeout, Favre came back out under center.
It would seem the plan of attack against the Vikings offense is to blitz Favre and the results have been a little unsettling. Through two games, Favre has been sacked seven times and knocked to the ground several more.
Favre appeared to injure his throwing hand in the fourth quarter when sandwiched by a pair of Lions defenders. He stayed in the game and threw a touchdown pass to Percy Harvin. Following the game, he said his hand was fine, but he's never been overly forthcoming about injuries.
Madieu Williams sustained a rare NFL injury. He got hit in the face in the second half and his braces cut through his lip – forcing him to come out of the game to stop the bleeding.
The Vikings made a couple of changes on the active roster Sunday. Safety Husain Abdullah was deactivated in favor of rookie Jamarca Sanford and DT Jimmy Kennedy was inactive and replaced by Fred Evans.
Ryan Longwell made history Sunday in two respects. He became the 21st kicker in NFL history to record 300 field goals, which he did in the second half Sunday – tying him for 19th place on the all-time list with Matt Bahr and Mark Moseley. He also moved into 20th place on the all-time scoring list. He came into the game tied with Jim Bakken for 20th place with 1,380 points, but passed both Bakken and Moseley (1,382 points). With 1,389 points, he sits 27 points behind Jeff Wilkins (1,416) for 19th place, 50 points behind Jim Turner (1,439) for 18th place, 81 points behind Pat Leahy (1,470) for 17th place and 87 points behind Steve Christie (1,476) for 16th place. All of those may be surpassed by year's end.
The Vikings sit alone atop the NFC North after the Packers fell at home to Cincinnati, but the Steelers (and kicker Jeff Reed) didn't do the Vikings any favors by falling 17-14 at Chicago, leaving the Bears and Packers at 1-1 and the Lions at 0-2.
What a difference a year can make. Carolina and Tennessee combined to lose just seven games last year in the regular season. They are a combined 0-4 this year.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this hot topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.