First off: There’s no need to feel sorry for Adrian Peterson. He put himself in this mess with what many people would consider a malicious and criminal act against his 4-year-old son. He’s missed 9 games this season but has made more during that span than almost every one of us will make in a lifetime.
However: With the NFL and Roger Goodell’s announcement today that Peterson has been suspended without pay for the rest of the season, the league’s statement regarding that suspension, and the NFLPA’s subsequent response, it has become even more abundantly clear that this has become less and less about Peterson’s situation itself and more and more about the power struggle between the league and players’ association.
The NFL is probably over-correcting after facing a public backlash for being too soft in punishment of players over the years. The NFLPA is saying they’re not playing by the rules; the NFL is saying it can make whatever rules it wants.
The key part of the NFLPA statement: The decision by the NFL to suspend Adrian Peterson is another example of the credibility gap that exists between the agreements they make and the actions they take. Since Adrian’s legal matter was adjudicated, the NFL has ignored their obligations and attempted to impose a new and arbitrary disciplinary proceeding. … We call on the NFL Management Council to show our players and our sponsors leadership by committing to collective bargaining so a fair personal conduct policy can be implemented as quickly as possible.
The NFLPA is, of course, appealing the suspension. But we have to imagine Peterson will, in fact, miss the rest of the season — and that he has played his final game for the Vikings already.
If that’s the case, again, we don’t feel sorry for Peterson. He brought this whole chain of events on himself. But it’s clear the big picture is much larger than just him.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph made his return from sports hernia surgery on Sunday, but he played just 14 offensive snaps in the 21-13 loss to the Bears. He was held without a catch.
Head coach Mike Zimmer on Monday said the plan all along was to ease Rudolph back in to action.
“Yeah, he’s feeling his way a little bit, still. He’s got to let it loose a little bit more,” Zimmer said. “We wanted to be careful with him, but on the same token, he needs to continue to feel good about where he’s at and try to let it loose, too.”
Rudolph, who had last played in Week 3, had been sidelined for seven weeks. As he neared a return, he said multiple times that he didn’t want to play until he felt fully like himself again.
But Zimmer believes that Rudolph was a little apprehensive against the Bears, which was probably to be expected in a situation like this, especially when it was cold, windy day at Soldier Field.
“He was confident but I don’t know if he was really confident, you know what I mean, as far as, ‘Okay, I can go run this route as hard as I can run,’” Zimmer said. “Kyle is a great competitive kid that wants to please and do everything he can. If there’s a chance that he’s going to try to play, he’s going to play regardless of if he’s 99 percent or he’s 88 percent. I think he needed to get back into it. He was a little bit rusty in my opinion. I think he just needs to get back into it more.”
The Vikings ran just 47 plays in the loss. Tight ends Rhett Ellison and Chase Ford played 24 and 22 snaps, respectively. It was Ford, not Rudolph, who was on the field for the game’s final drive.
In an open-ended question, a reporter asked Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer if he’s disappointed about wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson’s season on Monday.
“I don’t think disappointment is the right word,” Zimmer said. “I think youth might be the right word.”
Zimmer expressed why he felt Patterson, in his fourth offense in four years dating back to junior college, hasn’t been a disappointment this year based on his limited time playing wide receiver in his career. Patterson, 23, displayed a lot of promise in what started as a limited role during his rookie season last year. The Vikings planned to unleash him in offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s offense this season but that hasn’t been the case through 10 games.
Patterson is second on the team in receptions, 28, and receiving yards, 332, on 59 targets. Opponents have been able to neutralize Patterson on offense, focusing on him given his playmaking ability, but Patterson hasn’t found an answer yet on how to get open.
“We’re going to continue to be patient with him and keep teaching him and keep working with him to try and get him where he needs to be in all those areas,” Zimmer said. “He does some very, very good things and then some things that you don’t like as much.”
Still, it has been a disappointing season for Patterson, who appears to be taking a little longer to develop than expected. This was thought of as a breakout season for Patterson, who has improved as a route runner over the last year, but he still has a long ways to go to become a consistent wide receiver in the NFL.
“Sometimes it takes time with young guys; I believe that’s the case with him,” Zimmer said. “I believe that he’s going to be a really good player, but everybody is impatient, including me, and I’m sure he is, too. But it will come. It will come.”