NFL: Why Adrian Peterson Is the Man for the Vikings

Adrian Peterson walks off the field after a game with the Lions

Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Despite piling up 134 rushing yards during his team’s 26-16 victory over the Detroit Lions in week two, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson hadn’t quite felt like his old self. Not yet, anyways. Following a 31-14 victory over the San Diego Chargers this past Sunday, it would appear that’s no longer the case.

“My legs felt lighter today and just the preparation throughout the week helped with that, but I felt good,” said Peterson following the game, per the team’s official website. “The body felt good. My mind was in a great place, and yeah, I think I’m back.”

Although Peterson may have rushed for less yards (126) against the visiting Chargers than he did the previous week against the Lions, he did manage to pick up two touchdowns on the ground — the first time he’s gotten into the end zone since November 24, 2013, at Green Bay. Of course, while it’s always nice to get across the goal line, it wasn’t the scores that made the 30-year-old running back start to feel like he was finally back in the right frame of mind. It was his improved conditioning.

“The biggest thing is, I would make sure I’m just in position to make sure my lungs are open,” Peterson said. “Last week, I felt like my conditioning wasn’t where I need it to be and I’m not saying I wasn’t in shape. I’m probably in better shape than 80 percent of the guys that were out there, but I wasn’t able to really run the ball and recover like I was used to.”

That doesn’t seem to be an issue for Peterson anymore. He ran all over the San Diego Chargers’ defense like it was his job (which it is, obviously). And if the Vikings are going to stand any chance of living up to their lofty preseason expectations, then they better keep feeding No. 28 the ball as much as possible. Just as he’s always been, Adrian Peterson is still the key to Minnesota’s success.

Adrian Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater celebrate a score

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

A lot has been said about this 2015 NFL season being the year when the Vikings’ Teddy Bridgewater takes the next step in his evolution as a quarterback. We’re not here to say that isn’t going to happen. In fact, we think the second-year pro out of Louisville has all the makings of a legitimate franchise quarterback. There’s just no reason to make things harder than they need to be.

The Vikings would be wise not to put too much pressure on the kid so early in his career. The most important thing the organization can do to limit the stress on Bridgewater’s shoulders would be to provide him with quality run support. How does one do that? By giving the pigskin to one of the best backs in the history of the National Football League.

For the second consecutive week, Peterson had at least 20 carries. And for the second week in a row, Minnesota came away with the win. Obviously there is a direct correlation between the two. When you get the ball in the hands of your best player, there’s a much better chance good things will happen. That’s a fact.

As long as this formula is working, the Vikings should keep running with it. After all, with the way Adrian Peterson is beginning to look, even if the opposition sees this game plan coming (and they will), that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to stop it. If history has taught us anything, when it comes to No. 28, not many can.

All statistics are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, NFL.com, and ESPN.go.com.