On February 28th, the Minnesota Vikings decided not to pick up Adrian Peterson’s option for the 2017 season. However, the former MVP will now be joining the New Orleans Saints on a two-year, $7 million deal.
At first glance, this seems like an odd signing for a player that wanted to be on a contender. However, this might be the perfect fit for Peterson and the Saints. With Peterson coming off a torn meniscus, he will be out to show the NFL that he is still a top running back. As for New Orleans, they are looking to stop their three season streak of going 7-9.
Another question that continues to come up, is how the Saints split carries between Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson. After all, Ingram is coming off a season were he rushed for over 1,000 yards. Last year it was clear that Ingram was the lead back, while Tim Hightower also got his touches (133 carries for 548 yards & 4 Touchdowns).
Regardless of injury Peterson is an upgrade over Hightower, which means the carries should increase. Ingram will still be the top running back for the Saints, due to his ability to receive and pass block. So the question is now asked, why is Adrian Peterson a good fit in New Orleans?
Why this could work
Adrian Peterson may have led the NFL in rushing for three different seasons (2008, 2012, 2015), but he received no favors from his quarterbacks. Throughout his prime years, “AP” had quarterbacks such as Christian Ponder, Joe Webb and Tavaris Jackson under center. Pairing him now up with Drew Brees is a scary thought for opposing defenses.
The days of seeing eight players in the box to stop him are now over. If healthy, teams will have to decide whether they are going to try and stop Brees or Peterson. For the first time in his career, the pressure is off of him to carry an offense. Not only that, but he’ll also under one of the best schemes in the NFL.
Sean Payton might be deemed as overrated by some portions of the media, however there is no denying his play-calling ability. The Saints always find themselves in the top five offenses year after year, regardless of the skill players in the system. Adding a future Hall of Fame running back, will make Coach Payton’s job a little less stressful.
The last aspect, and arguably the most important is the change in offensive lines. The Vikings ranked 30th in average yards per carry before contact, meanwhile the Saints ranked 6th. A much improved offensive line will definitely help open more holes for Peterson to hit.
There’s no denying that Peterson’s best days are behind him, but that doesn’t mean the tank is empty. For the first time in his career he has an elite quarterback, an offensive minded coach, and a lighter work load.
The Saints might not be the contender that fans were thinking of, yet they aren’t far off. It’s no secret that they have been a victim to their horrid defense. Perhaps the combination of Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram can keep the defense off the field, which would be a recipe for success.
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