Even though the Minnesota Vikings won yesterday, there’s still lots of people wondering what it wrong with the team.
Many of the fingers are pointed at Brett Favre, talking about his inability to throw anything but interceptions, or to get sacked at the worst time. He’s the reason the team is 1-2, they say.
They’re partially right. The problem is with Favre, but it’s not for the reason many people think.
The problem with the Vikings is Favre’s inability to let Adrian Peterson be the star of the team. Instead of letting Peterson run all over the field, the Vikings throw way too much, most often when it’s not necessary. Whether that’s because they want Favre to get into a rhythm (here’s a tip: don’t miss training camp next time), to build his confidence or to pad his stats, only the coaches and Favre know.
My guess would be to pad his stats, as I don’t think he’s unconfidant. Think of the attention on Favre will get when he throws touchdown #500 (he’s one away now), or throws his 40,000th yard. And it would be so much better if it comes in a win.
Because of that, Favre throws the ball way too often.
Look at yesterday’s game against the Detroit Lions. After Peterson had an 80-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, the score was 24 to 10. After that, the Vikings had three drives (not including the last one, which was two kneeldowns). Here’s how each of the Vikings drives went (not including penalties):
Drive 1: Rush, pass, pass, rush, pass, pass, pass, pass, punt.
Drive 2: Pass, pass, pass, rush, pass, rush (led to fumble turnover)
Drive 3: Rush, pass, rush, punt
Peterson had at least two rushes of eight or more yards that were negated by penalties, so they’re not included.
But in three drives, instead of running out the clock, the Vikings continued to pass. Of the six rushes, Peterson had only four of them.
Why would you continue to throw in that situation? It makes no sense.
How does the best runningback in the game get only four touches out of 19 when the team is up by 14 in the fourth quarter? Peterson had two touchdowns, and 160 yards on 23 rushes (good for seven yards a carry).
It’s not like Peterson is going to go three runs and then the team punts because they didn’t get the 10 yards for a first down.
In the first game of the season against New Orleans, despite being down by only five points, Peterson rarely got the ball in the second half once the Saints took the lead. With 21 minutes left in the game, Peterson carried the ball a total of three times out of 19 plays. Most drives routinely went Peterson rush, Favre pass, Favre pass, punt. Before those drives, Peterson had carried the ball 16 times for 77 yards, good for 4.8 yards per carry. Yet, they continued to let Favre get sacked or turn the ball over instead of giving the ball to the star of the team.
Last week, against the Miami Dolphins, you could see the Vikings best drives were the ones were Peterson carried it often. Even though he was stuffed on a fourth and one at the goal line, that’s no reason to stop giving him the ball.
No offence to Chris Johnson, but Adrian Peterson is the best runningback in the league. And so far this year, he hasn’t fumbled the ball, which has plagued him in previous years.
Favre needs to remember that throwing two touchdowns, 200 yards, no picks, one sack and a win is a lot better for the team than for him to throw two touchdowns, 375 yards, two picks, three sacks and a loss. But he can’t do that. His gunslinger reputation, and his ego, won’t allow it.
For the Vikings to be successful, they need to let Peterson run. And then, when the defences are so focused on the run, Favre will see the field open up, see more open wide receivers, and start to pad his stats.
And until Favre realizes that he can’t be the main man anymore, that he needs to follow rather than lead, then the Vikings will continue to struggle.