Is the Adrian Peterson injury a Christmas gift in disguise?

So you’re a Vikings fan and you hate your life. I get it. The worst possible thing happened on Sunday. Not only did the Vikings win and take themselves out of contention for Andrew Luck, but Adrian Peterson went down with multiple ligament tears and Christian Ponder took a hit and got concussed. All bad.

But maybe there’s a silver living.

You have to be a hardcore Vikings purist to honestly believe that this is a team that could compete in 2012 with Adrian Peterson, and if it’s not then perhaps long-term it is better to have AP rest up, Peyton Manning-style. If you’re not going to win now, why strive for mediocrity in 2012? Realistically, this is a franchise that can think about winning again in 2014… not 2013… and certainly not 2012.

I know you don’t want to hear it. You’ve grown up with a team that can’t bring home the bacon and because of that you’ve become impatient. You hate Leslie Frazier and Christian Ponder because they aren’t winning now. The grass is always greener. You were hoping Joe Webb was going to bring this team to the promised land in 2012–or at least you were pre-AP knee mayhem. I know the feeling, but it’s near-sighted. This team lacks talent at every DB position, on the O-line, in the receiving corp and at DT. These are not problems that can be fixed in a year through free agency.

So why is it such a bad thing that AP take an entire year off? Why is it so bad that we give up the illusion now that 2012 was ever going to be a successful season and start planning for 2014? And no, that’s not a typo, the future is three years out. Of course there’s the risk that AP is never the same, that the surgery and recovery make him a different back, but is that risk any different from the risk of mileage earned through years of NFL service? This is a good argument against rebuilding around a running back, which Andrew Scherber has already broached on this blog.  But the one comment on that post is telling. I quote: Brandon says,

“um your stupid of course they need to sign him.”

Well, Brandon, I can already tell that what I’m saying is going in one ear and out the other. You know the problem: it’s Frazier and Ponder. And you will air your opinion with all manner of Facebook snottiness.

Meanwhile, those among us with a bit of foresight might do well to sit back and ask ourselves: Is this really such a bad thing? Wouldn’t we rather have an early pick in 2013? Wouldn’t we rather give Ponder a real off-season and training camp to develop? Wouldn’t we like to see what Joe Webb can do alongside Christian Ponder? Aren’t there holes up and down this roster that will take multiple years to fill? Isn’t running back the most easy-to-fill hole if the worst happens and Peterson truly is done?

The answers are right there. I understand your mourning, and I feel as bad for AP as anybody, but for the Vikings’ sake we should wonder, “Is this not a Christmas gift in disguise?”

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2 Responses to Is the Adrian Peterson injury a Christmas gift in disguise?

  1. Eric says:

    I don’t know if I can call it a gift. An opportunity — certainly. They’ll need 2 offseasons (probably more like 3 with the likes of Winfield and Hutchinson getting older). I’d like to see them shore up OL & DB this offseason through FA and the draft. It seems to be a deep WR draft so maybe grabbing one in the 2nd or 3rd round would be good. They need to rebuild a good young core of players a la the 9ers or Lions. Ponder & Harvin could be a good start to that. But that kind of re-building requires a few good years of good ol’ fashion sucking. Frazier probably won’t last the impatience of the vocal and critical fan base, and that’s alright. As long as we keep our eye on the long-term, which may mean pulling a Peyton with AP.

    Sorry for the novel here. Arizona fans just don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to football, so it’s fun to have this conversation without being interrupted by a terrible take. Merry Christmas, Frank. I’ll hang up and listen. 🙂

  2. frankiejay1 says:

    There is something to be said for admitting your team cannot win now. Bottoming out is often the key to rebounding, and there’s no reason to pretend that next year will be much different, but give it a couple years…

    I do tend to think that signing AP long-term was a mistake, but one that the Vikings had to make. It was like signing Joe Mauer–the Twins had to do it to keep the fans happy but it didn’t make financial sense. It doesn’t make the best sense to build a team around a star runningback unless you’re ready to win now. There is more turnover at RB than at any other position and plus, there is less difference between top RB and middle-lower tier guys. Peterson may very well be the best back in the league, but the difference between him and, say, Marshawn Lynch isn’t SO much. The difference between the top 2-3 CB compared to the 20th guy–on the other hand–is huge!

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