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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Krammer: Adrian Peterson's talents wasted with poor quarterback play


MINNEAPOLIS — While speculation circulates around quarterback Christian Ponder and whether or not the Minnesota Vikings have moved on from their former 12th-overall pick, a future Hall of Fame running back is lost in the mix.

He’s been held back by the situation since 2007.

Despite all the electrifying, record-breaking displays, Adrian Peterson has been stuck under the weight of his own team’s quarterback situation for six years and it apparently will have to wait a seventh.

Ponder is questionable to play Sunday with a rib injury in London against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The degree of Ponder’s injury has been questioned enough, but the debate on whether or not he’s the team’s long-term answer at quarterback seems over after seven turnovers and three losses in the first few games of his third year.

Tarvaris Jackson, Donovan McNabb and Ponder have all tried and failed with the best running back in football. Forty-year-old Brett Favre’s stunning run in 2009, in which Peterson had to break the 100-yard mark just three times, only underscores the point that running backs have less influence on a team’s win-loss column than ever before.

The Cleveland Browns certainly noticed that last week before trading the 2012 third-overall pick, Trent Richardson, and then beating the Vikings with third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer, who dropped back 57 times and threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns in his second career start.

As the top dog in the running back game, Peterson said he doesn’t think Richardson being traded so early in the season means his position is less valued.

“Nah, not really. Can’t say that. I really don’t know what to take from it, it happened so suddenly and you don’t know the reasons behind it,” Peterson said. “I don’t know, I guess it works best for them.”

With the help of a semi-consistent defense and stout special teams, Peterson buoyed his team to the playoffs last season, but fell to 1-3 in the postseason because, again, he had no quarterback.

Peterson hasn’t exactly shot out of the gates in 2013 and, along with his own two fumbles, his supporting cast has given away games. Whether that’s on the arm of Ponder or on late-game defense or both is debatable.

However, as he recovered from major knee surgery, Peterson had a similar start last season and the Vikings were 2-1.

2013  Attempts Yards Average Record
Week 1 18 93 5.2 0-1
Week 2 26 100 3.8 0-2
Week 3 25 88 3.5 0-3
Week 1 17 84 4.9 1-0
Week 2 16 60 3.8 1-1
Week 3 25 86 3.4 2-1

In 2012, The Vikings escaped with two wins because their defense was better. This year, the defensive unit has allowed 32 points and more than 350 yards per game, with the mistakes only highlighted by late-game lapses and special teams’ errors.

Peterson’s performance did very little to sway the 2-1 and 0-3 starts from last year to this year.

Sitting winless after three weeks, the Vikings could probably be 1-2 had Peterson scored on a 3rd-and-4 run at the goal line at Soldier Field, but he doesn’t have the game-changing opportunities as a quarterback. It’s just as easy to say the Vikings would’ve turned around the 31-30 loss had Ponder not thrown the pick-six to Chicago Bears’ cornerback Tim Jennings.

Long ago, the NFL became a passing league and the Vikings are still trying to build their football team around a running back. At 12-17 as a starter, Ponder has shown he can’t manage the offense game-by-game well enough to make this team a playoff contender.

Ponder can elevate Peterson to that level, but it can’t happen the other way around.

Peterson has all the individual accolades, but none of the hardware that defines NFL careers. But even as he entertained the millionth question about his 2,500-yard goal in training camp this offseason, he remained focused.

“My ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl,” Peterson said.

The 28-year-old is on contract through 2017 and it looks like the Vikings should already look to the 2014 draft for another franchise quarterback.

Or Peterson may look for another franchise.


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