A change of scenery is exactly what Adrian Peterson needed.
The marriage between veteran running back Adrian Peterson and the New Orleans Saints was doomed from the beginning. Unable to function in a stable of running backs or fit into an offense centered around the arm of Drew Brees, Peterson was shipped to the Arizona desert before midseason.
Peterson Fits in Arizona
Five games into the 2017 season, Peterson carried the ball a total of 27 times for 81 yards. The numbers alone seem like stats Peterson would have in a single game, not five. Peterson is a feature back, not a member of a committee.
Peterson is guaranteed to see more touches as he becomes the primary running back in Arizona’s depleted backfield. He replaces veteran Chris Johnson, who was released following the acquisition of AP. Losing David Johnson to injury was a huge blow to the Cardinals offense. Adding a hungry veteran in Peterson can help provide a balance to a shaky offense.
The Cardinals have put up 259 rushing yards thus far. Unable to get any beneficial production from the backfield has made Arizona a one-dimensional pass heavy offense. An inability to run the football hurts any offense. Quarterback Carson Palmer is forced to try to win with his arm, but so far has only thrown one more touchdown than interception.
Returning to Form
27 years of age is considered the peak of a running back’s career. Peterson is the exception to that rule. Although he’s had an injury riddled past, he always would defy the odds and perform at an elite level. He heads to Arizona with a chip on his shoulder and a focus to prove to the naysayers in New Orleans and elsewhere wrong.
Tampa Bay will be Peterson’s first test as a member of the Cardinals. He will benefit from feeling important, needed and wanted in Arizona – something he didn’t feel with the Saints. The mentality alone will motivate Peterson do carry the rock with the intensity and aggression fans are used to watching.
Peterson will be running behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. In his prime, he ran behind some bad offensive lines and still produced. Head Coach Bruce Arians has to hold out hope Peterson still has some of that magic left. Never shying away from contact, Peterson will try to use his punishing style to break tackles in the backfield.
If Arizona gets the “All Day” version of Peterson, the Cardinals could compete in the NFC West.
Stats referenced at NFL.com