View Full Version : Is Adrian Peterson overused early? (Thoughts on workhorse backs)

09-28-2009, 05:52 AM
I know what you are thinking just from the start, he is quite possibly the best player in the NFL, and you want him to have the ball as much as possible, but I've just been watching a trend that seems to be true in most games for running backs, and especially Peterson.

In the first half, running the football seems to be about setting the tone, keeping the defense on the field to tire them out, keeping the opposing offense on the sidelines and out of rhythm, and setting your passing game up with shorter first downs, and easy play action. If you can break a big run in the first half, that's a bonus, but I don't feel this is the objective...

In the second half, if you've managed to wear the defense down, that is when your running game is gong to truly flourish, and Peterson is a good example, how many times does it seem that he's been totally bottled up, something like 18 carries for 45 yards in the first half, then he absolutely EXPLODES in the second half, and trounces a team with a multitude of big runs.

But I see it a lot, and I have to wonder why they willingly subject a guy like that to so many early carries, when most will be nothing more than him plowing into the line for 2-3 yards, when a quality back like Chester Taylor can do the same thing, he isn't explosive, but he can grind out some yards like that early on as well.

I realize that leaving Peterson on the field is a great idea, even if they are running about the same in a particular game, his presence alone is going to have defenders on their heels, the playaction will be more effective, and they will have safeties creeping into the box more.

I just feel like earlier in games, the Vikings could split the carries more liberally, and save the Manimal for the second half, and it would probably prolong his career, would subject him to a LOT less of a pounding, and he'd be his usual dominant second half self, and they probably wouldn't lose a ton on the ground in the first half, except for those occasional big plays, but most of those aren't in the first half....

This isn't just Peterson, I feel like a few teams could do this, but they are a great example because Chester is a quality back, and Peterson's first 15 carries and his last 15 carries(so to speak) always seem to have a glaring advantage. Some think it's Peterson getting into his groove, but I think it's because the big O-Line and the short and tough runs has worn the D down.

On my own teams front, I think they showed the perfect idea of how to do it, they could have SPLIT the carries a little better, but the Buffalo game had a very distinct feel. The team was struggling to throw the ball because of protection issues, mostly due to Jammal Brown being out, and then the backup, Jermon Bushrod, having to come out as well... The Saints were able to run the ball well though, nothing astronomical, but Lynell Hamilton had like 5 carries for 24 yards or so, and Reggie Bush had like 10 carries for 55 yards at halftime. The Saints were moving the ball really well on the ground, but the Bills managed to stop the pass, and not give up any huge runs, and only the occasional screens.

Into the 4th quarter though, John Lynch mentioned how gassed the Bills D began to look from being on the field so long, and being subjected to our big package with 2 TE's and an extra tackle in the game. Enter Pierre Thomas, who didn't have a single touch in the first half, he comes in with fresh legs, and his stuffed on his first play, and then proceeds to totally dominate the worn down Bills team, gashing them for big gain after big gain, and he wasn't running guys over, or making spectacular moves, but his fresh legs combined with big holes that our line was able to open up against a worn down D was too much, and he finished with 14 carries for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns, all in the 4th quarter!!

Now, it probably would have been better to bring Thomas in earlier in the game to split with Hamilton and Bush, and then continue to split more into the second half, or ride the hot hand, I don't agree on keeping him out until the 4th, it obviously worked today, but I think they were still worried about his injury, and didn't want to risk him early, they had no idea he'd do that :eek:

Back into our first game, Mike Bell pounded out a lot of tough yards in the first half, and started to break it open late in the game. The second game, the running game was solid, but unspectacular, and when we got the lead, we brought the big package in, where our guys started to break some big gains, and Reggie Bush finished with a touchdown run up the middle, 20 yards untouched, credit to great blocking against a worn down defense.

So my point is, in the first half, you grind out tough yards, soften up the D, and try and wear them down. The second half is where your big runs, your YPC and your touchdowns are really going to start to pile up, if you did the job in the first half.

This can't always work, because teams will inevitably get down and have to throw from behind, which destroys your balance.

But the question is, in a perfect world, why aren't teams using their "expendable" backs more often in the first half, especially if you have a guy like Chester Taylor, who is a fine back, and then really unleash the monster.

Maybe you lose a little off your rushing attack in the first half, but for the most part, you get full results in the second half, and you extend his career and possibly season.

Thoughts on this? Can more teams apply this strategy more often?

09-28-2009, 06:16 AM
Plenty of backs have no problems breaking big runs in the 2nd half. It's pretty common as well to see running backs without over 100 yards or 4.whatever yards per carry until they pop a 20+ yard gain or similar.

It's not the kind of thing you can time. The players get those big plays because defenses have tired from being hit in the mouth, lines play better, tendencies are found, adjustments are made, luck, etc, etc. There's no secret formula like subbing a guy in exactly ten minutes and eleven seconds in the 2nd half.

Carolina use Williams and Stewart as a pretty even tandem, moreso than most teams anyway. It worked out ok last year and if the damn offense could complete a pass every now and then it would probably be working this year.

09-28-2009, 07:34 AM
AD is hardly overused, they work in Chestor Taylor quite a bit. Look at the Rams for instance, do they have a 2nd RB that they can spell Jackson with? It's all him, all game, every year. Same with Michael Turner, Minnesota does a good job of resting Peterson and mixing in Taylor.

09-28-2009, 09:13 AM
He doesn't play on 3rd downs, and Taylor spells him quite frequently. He is not really overused he only runs the ball about 20 times a game, and maybe catches a few passes.

09-28-2009, 09:17 AM
Adrian Peterson only had 30 carries in a game twice in his career so it's not like the Vikings are running him into the ground like the Chiefs did to Larry Johnson a couple years ago.

09-28-2009, 10:02 AM
I think a lot of people assume that he racks up tons and tons of carries because he gets so many yards. He just has a really high yards per carry average. He's only averaged exactly 20 carries per game and 21.4 touches for his career.

09-28-2009, 02:33 PM
If anything he's underused at times. We threw the ball 46 times yesterday for whatever reason.

09-28-2009, 03:05 PM
19 carries in yesterday's game would not have made me bring the issue up. My guess is he's comfortable with that workload.

09-28-2009, 04:47 PM
20 Carries is usually considered good for most running backs. When you break it down, it's just 5 times a quarter, which isn't a tremendous ask of anyone.

400+ carries a year is where history tells us you start to see massive issues.

09-28-2009, 06:08 PM
All true, I wasn't really trying to micromanage carries so much, I just think if a guy like Peterson is going to end the game with 22 carries, I don't want him having 11 in the first half and 11 in the second half (give or take). I'd rather give him closer to 6-7 carries in the first half, and give Taylor a few more.

I think the point I'm trying to make is, in the first half of a lot of games (not all, because dominant backs are dominant backs for a reason), the gap between a stud, and a quality backup isn't as huge as later on in the game, so why not save them a bit of pounding?

IMO, teams have no more excuse to run quality backs into the ground now, RBs can be found in every round of every draft, maybe not multi talented, do it all backs, but you can find quality RUNNERS anywhere.

The Saints are a prime example, we have one high selection at RB (Bush at 2), but our 3 other backs are all undrafted. They aren't the best receivers(Thomas is pretty good), and they are unspectacular in pass protection, but if you want to line them up and run the ball, they all do just fine.

Build up your offensive line, and you can run with anyone, don't run your stud into the ground and shorten his career!

09-28-2009, 06:14 PM
I think the point I'm trying to make is, in the first half of a lot of games (not all, because dominant backs are dominant backs for a reason), the gap between a stud, and a quality backup isn't as huge as later on in the game, so why not save them a bit of pounding?

In summation, let the stud deliver the real pounding towards the climax.

09-28-2009, 06:17 PM
In summation, let the stud deliver the real pounding towards the climax.

A real stud can cause climax through pounding well.

09-28-2009, 06:18 PM
In summation, let the stud deliver the real pounding towards the climax.

Great minds think alike, you naughty man.

09-28-2009, 06:18 PM
A real stud can cause climax through pounding well.

Probably why he got nicknamed All Day.

09-28-2009, 06:24 PM
Yeah he has that nickname for a reason

09-28-2009, 06:36 PM
I don't worry about Adrian Peterson. I worry about Maurice Jones-Drew. The Vikings can spell Peterson with Taylor, but MJD is on the field at all times. He has such a massive workload and he is one of the smallest backs in the league.

09-28-2009, 06:43 PM
I don't worry about Adrian Peterson. I worry about Maurice Jones-Drew. The Vikings can spell Peterson with Taylor, but MJD is on the field at all times. He has such a massive workload and he is one of the smallest backs in the league.

In height yes, but the dude about 210-15 (same as Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore, 10-15 lbs heavier than Barry Sanders was) He's a freak of nature. Plus they drafted Rashard Jennings who they like

09-29-2009, 01:09 AM
I think a lot of it is that you assume you will still be in the game or in a position to run at least, by saving the RB for the 2nd half.

AP running is still by far the most likely route to a TD for the Vikes. We have a QB who is best suited to game managing at this point in his career, so far our rookie WR is by far our most dangerous target and our OL is very good at run blocking and about as equally bad at pass protection. All of this means that the best way to stay in the game and gain an early lead is to run and if we are running, Peterson is the best guy to have it. Plus if he breaks a couple of big runs early, he might not even need to play in the 2nd half sometimes. Especially with how much our pass defense has improved without Sharper back there blowing plays looking for picks.

09-29-2009, 01:31 AM
He's on pace for 352 touches on the year, so no? I'm have as much concern over Peterson's ability to stay healthy over the long term as anyone, but the whole point behind Peterson gaining that weight in the offseason was to be able to be the load carrier for the Vikes, and for the time being they might as well let him try and be that runner for them. It isn't like their use of him is particularly unreasonable right now anyway.

As for the question of saving him for the second half, the truth is that Peterson is going to tire down the defense much better than Chester Taylor will be able to. Besides, Peterson is averaging 4.3 yards on 29 first half carries and 7.7 on 30 second half carries. I can't imagine the Vikings could be any happier with that production.

09-29-2009, 07:38 AM
I think AD can handle the workload just fine, but with the way he runs, that scares me for the long run. One solid hit, and he could be out for a long while. I do not wish for that to happen because he is one of my favorite non Steelers and one of the most exciting players in football, but it's true.

09-29-2009, 10:39 AM
That big ***** ain't gonna break.