The nerd part of me wants to think that Adrian “All Day” Peterson would make a good astronaut, but in reality getting the beast in space is an even better football strategy.
Mike Zimmer said on Peterson, "We'd like to run him into a few less bodies.'' Wants to get him the ball in space. Says "getting hit a lot.''
— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) March 25, 2014
Zimmer’s correct here. Adrian IS a physical specimen, the likes the world hasn’t seen since Achilles was jackin’ fools in the “Illiad”, but is rapidly approaching the wrong side of 30 (he turned 29 last Friday) and already has 2033 career carries on his body.
2000 carries seems to be the Mendoza Line for NFL running backs. Once they cross that threshold, it’s much closer to end than the beginning (Shaun Alexander, Clinton Portis, LaDainian Tomlinson, etc etc).
That fact that a good portion of Adrian’s 2033 were between the tackles of 8-9 man boxes surely doesn’t help the wear. So getting him “in space” more could certainly help his longevity.
Now “in space” could mean a lot of things: lining him up wide or in the slot for passes (which he’s rarely done), setting him up on screens (also rare for some ungodly reason), or simply running more toss, sweeps and outside run plays (he’s def done that).
Adrian’s only recorded 206 receptions in his seven seasons with the Purple – an average of 29.4 rec/yr. By comparison, LaDainian Tomlinson averaged 47 rec/yr in 4 seasons with Norv as HC in San Diego. LT was/is undoubtedly a more skilled receiver than AD, but that’s still quite a gap for the most explosive playmaker in team history.
A fact that contributes to that gap is Adrian has seldom played in 3rd down passing situations – it was mostly Chester Taylor early in his career and Toby the last few. We’ve theorized before that this could be to save some wear on 28’s body – pass blocking for a RB is a thankless ass kicking for the most part – but with Toby gone, Norv may have AD featured in more of those packages. Giving him more opportunities to catch passes. In space. To take to the house.
Adrian isn’t getting any younger, but has still shown that he’s a physical freak that has plenty of gas left in the tank. And what do you do with a Machine in good shape with plenty o’ gas?
You let that mother run. Or catch too in this specific case.
Hopefully Norv will have him doing plenty of both in 2014.
Also here’s a reminder what Adrian Peterson can do with the ball in space. RIP William Gay