Will a disgruntled Adrian Peterson last in the Big Easy?
Saints running back Adrian Peterson did not have the debut he envisioned against his former team. Instead, he was limited to a mere six carries for 18 yards. Peterson was forced to watch his replacement, Dalvin Cook, scamper in purple and gold while breaking the Vikings rookie rushing debut record held by AP.
The way in which Cook broke the record added salt to the wound. Peterson, who set the record with 103 rushing yards. On Cook’s final carry of the night, he bolted around the outside and blazed past Saints defenders for 33 yards. The run put Cook at 127 yards on 22 touches, surpassing All Day’s record by 24 yards.
A pacing Peterson was not happy throughout the night. He minimized his sideline verbal dispute with Head Coach Sean Peyton during a post game interview.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 12, 2017
However, despite stating he wanted to keep what was said confidential, he made a statement via Twitter outlining what he said.
Let's be clear…I said we need to run the ball up their Donkey. Nothing more. I'm passionate but respect my coach at the same time
— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) September 12, 2017
One thing was clear to the naked eye –Peterson looked irate on the sideline. Peterson looked fueled by adrenaline on his first carry of the game. He zipped, zagged and pushed the pile forward for a gain of nine. Then, he faded out of the game plan. Peyton employing a running-back-by-committee makes sense in his offense as he relies primarily on the play of veteran quarterback Drew Brees to move the ball. However, Peyton has three talented running backs.
Furthermore, he has ADRIAN PETERSON playing against his former team! Why he chose not to feed AP the football and unleash his physicality is confusing, especially after the first carry. Throughout his career, Peterson has been a back that has to get into the flow of the game to do damage. He warms up with more carries. Yes, he’s not the Adrian Peterson of days past, but he still possesses the freakishness that made his play captivating. It is impossible for Peterson to heat up if he’s spending lengthy time on the sidelines between touches. It won’t work.
“I didn’t sign up for nine snaps.”
Peterson knew he was leaving the bell-cow persona behind when he left Minnesota. The Vikings chose not to pick up his contract option but were open to a possible restructuring of his deal. Peterson opted to test the market and seek his value. What he found was even though he is arguably one of the biggest game-changing running backs in NFL history, not many were seeking his services – at least not for his asking price.
Many assumed he would take a veteran minimum on a contending team, giving him a chance to compete for a Super Bowl title as he nears the twilight of his career. Peterson signing with the New Orleans Saints was definitely a head-scratcher. It made no sense. What made the scenario further mind-boggling was the fact that the Saints already had Mark Ingram, then they draft Alvin Kamara? When initially signing the deal, it was evident Peterson believed his role in the offense would be a lot different that what it was in week one.
Can Peterson Survive the By-Committee Approach?
That’s tough. Years ago, even associating Peterson with a running-back-by-committee approach would be foolish. Running backs expire early in the NFL due to the natural wear-and-tear, but Peterson proved he’s built differently. Peterson followed his 2011 season, in which he suffered a torn ACL/MCL in late December, by having the best season of his professional football play. His 2,097 rush yards – the second highest total in history – paved the way for the awards of NFL Comeback Player of the Year and the league MVP.
In 2014, he played just one game and was suspended for the season following child abuse accusations. The next year, he ran for over 1,400 yards with a fresher set of wheels. He scored 11 touchdowns, the second most of his career in a single season. Last year, he only played three games in his final Vikings campaign due to injury.
Peterson will not even sniff close to 1,000 yards. Not because of his lack of skill, but because of his situation. The Saints will not shun Ingram and Kamara is evolving to be a multidimensional threat in New Orleans offense. There is no feature back, which hurts Peterson. He should have taken less money and played for a contender that would lean on him more than the Saints will this season.
If Peterson continues to display irritability on the sidelines or generates any unnecessary attention, the Saints could look to ship him out before season’s end. Peterson will never be “the man” in New Orleans, which is something he will not get used to. It would be better for both sides if the marriage of AP-Saints is short-lived. Peterson still possesses some value, he may show off some of it against New England this week. The Patriots struggled stopping the run and the pass in the opener against the Chiefs. Could this be the game Peyton rides AP, let’s the veteran get in a rhythm which, in turn, would open up things for Brees and the passing game? It’s possible.
Peterson is wearing the wrong uniform this season. If it continues to go this route, he could wind up in another by the end of the year.
Stats referenced at NFL.com