In 2011, the Minnesota Vikings went 3-13. 2012 did not look much better with Adrian Peterson recovering from a torn ACL, and most fans and analysts felt the Vikings were in for another 3 win season.
Of course, then everyone realized that Adrian Peterson was more than just fine and, he ended up leading them to a playoff berth while coming up just eight yards short Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record of 2,105 yards set in 1984.
Even though, the Vikings ended up with the second-best rushing attack behind the Washington Redskins’ two-headed monster of Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, Minnesota did average the most yards per carry in the NFL at 5.4. That number in itself is impressive, but one has to also consider that even with Adrian Peterson, the Vikings were only seventh in the NFL with 486 rushing attempts.
What makes these rushing numbers even more impressive, though, is the complete lack of passing attack the Vikings had in 2012. With Christian Ponder under center, the Vikings were only able to manage 171.9 yards passing per game, with only the Kansas City Chiefs holding a worse average at 169.6 yards.
This means that even though defenses around the NFL knew the Vikings were going to run the ball, they could not stop it. This type of attack is usually unsustainable for the long term though, and the Vikings know that they will need to be able to throw the ball better and with more consistency if they want to reach the postseason again in 2013.
The 2013 Vikings will have a lot more pressure on them to succeed than they did last season. Once again, the majority of that responsibility looks to be squarely on Adrian Peterson’s shoulders.
However, the team did give him help by improving their passing game with addition of former Green Bay Packer wide receiver Greg Jennings. And though they traded away dynamic slot receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks, they also used one of their three first round picks to select Cordarrelle Patterson, wide receiver out of the University of Tennessee.
There is no telling how successful Jennings will be in a new system, or Patterson in his first NFL season. While the Vikings may have an improved receiving core entering 2013, they still have one major problem: Christian Ponder is their quarterback.
Now, this is not to say that Ponder cannot be a successful NFL quarterback. But if you cannot put a good numbers when the league rushing leader and MVP is in your backfield, when can you?
Ponder, who was the third quarterback picked in 2011 (ahead of Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton), completed 62.1% of his passing attempts for 2,935 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season. He is going to have to improve on these numbers in 2013 for the Vikings to reach the postseason, because Peterson cannot be expected to carry the entire offense again…or can he?
By: Justin Haffermehl