Impact @BenTateRB will have sunday #VikingsST
— Brian Taylor (@twilightfoci) November 19, 2014
He might be forced to help immediately. The biggest concern with the Vikings at the position is running back Matt Asiata, who didn’t practice on Wednesday as he goes through the concussion protocol. Rookie running back Jerick McKinnon played through a low back injury last week, but he missed practice as well.
That would explain why the Vikings signed running back Dominique Williams to the practice squad with their open spot after cornerback Pierre Warren was signed by the Saints. They need help at the position and multiple options in case either, or both, can’t play against the Packers.
I think he can be serviceable, but I’m not banking on a 100-yard rushing performance. Tate hasn’t played under offensive coordinator Norv Turner before, and I’m not sure if he’s played in a similar system before, so they’d likely have to simplify some elements of the run game so Tate can be useful three days before the game. It’s a difficult situation to prepare a player in such a limited amount of time, but it gives the Vikings an experienced back for at least the rest of the season and possibly next year.
@MasterStrib Is 2014 Patterson equivalent to 2014 Matt Kalil? Both had very promising rookie years than took major steps back. #VikingsST
— Judd Zulgad’s Hoodie (@JZHoodie) November 19, 2014
Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson took a step back but not sure I’d call it a major step back. He’s had a disappointing season, both on offense and kickoff returns, given how effective he was in a limited role as a rookie. It comes with the territory of learning how to prepare when opponents are gameplanning to shut you down. Patterson still hasn’t learned how to deal with that, struggling to get open consistently and becoming a viable option for rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Once again, there’s still time for Patterson to turn it around but the window is more open for him than left tackle Matt Kalil, who is going through another bad season. Though he’s only in his third season, it’s a legitimate question to ask whether Kalil will return to his rookie season form. To the viewer’s eye, Kalil’s struggles are more noticeable because we see Bridgewater sacked or pressured from his blindside time and time again.
Face it though, they’re both not playing up to their capabilities and have hurt the Vikings offense significantly this season.
@MasterStrib Why aren’t we running the no huddle O more outside of the 2 minute drill? Saw it early against ATL; not much since. #VikingsST
— TJ Safrit (@TJ_Safrit) November 19, 2014
It can work for a period of time, but it’s not sustainable when the team isn’t structured to play an entire game that way, nor will it structured in such a manner in the future. I’d like to see it in spurts, however, given how good Bridgewater has been and also to throw defenses off.
But the important thing for Bridgewater at this point will be to receive as many snaps as possible in the pace the offense will flow in the future. The more experience he receives in that, the more comfortable Bridgewater will become. I think that’s the most important thing to watch over the final six games. We haven’t seen Bridgewater comfortable for an entire game since his first career start, particularly during the first half.
@MasterStrib what are the negatives to cutting Greg Jennings this off-season? #vikingsST
— Ryan Doherty (@ryandoherty_) November 18, 2014
The Vikings would have $6 million in dead money that would count against the cap, though he’d be owed $11 million if he remains on the team. It wouldn’t be worth it to cut him this offseason.
Greg Jennings, 31, hasn’t been the same receiver he was in Green Bay as he’s dealt with a quarterback carousel of Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman and now Bridgewater. There’s still a need for a veteran wide receiver on the roster with a young offense to help Patterson, Jarius Wright, Adam Thielen, Charles Johnson and even Bridgewater. Fans might be upset that the Vikings overpaid for Jennings, and he hasn’t been the No. 1 receiver he was paid to be, but he’s still a veteran with reliable hands when he gets open. I don’t think that’s a guy you should take away from a rookie quarterback.
From early on in 2007 through Week 1 of 2014, with the exception of a handful of games missed because of injury, you never had to ask what the Vikings’ plan was at running back. It started with Adrian Peterson, and that was as close to 100 percent of the answer as any team could hope. Sure, he had backups and the Vikings employed third down/blocking backs, but Peterson was the man. There was no running back by committee, unless one man can be a committee.
The Cleveland Browns have had no such luxury since 2007. Since that season and including this one, six different players have lead the team in rushing: Jamal Lewis, Jerome Harrison, Peyton Hillis, Trent Richardson, Willis McGahee and Terrance West.
West is the last name on the list and is fewer than 100 yards ahead of Ben Tate, who was signed to perhaps be the team’s feature back this season. Tate, of course, was released this week and picked up by the Vikings, who are almost certainly now going to be without Peterson for the rest of 2014.
Beyond that, the Vikings might be moving into a new era where they treat running backs like the Browns, Patriots, Broncos and so many other teams do these days: cycling through a bunch of them in the course of seasons and employing a committee approach during games. Peterson will be 30 before his NFL-imposed suspension is lifted, and as freakish an athlete as he is, NFL running backs have expiration dates and Peterson’s contract makes it very convenient (and prudent) to cut him or trade him before the 2015 season. Peterson’s off-field problems, in fact, could strangely make it easier in a way for the Vikings to sever ties without having it be purely a football or business decision.
But as encouraging as Jerick McKinnon’s rookie season has been at times, he is not Peterson. No one person is going to replace Peterson, and perhaps no one person should. Because as nice as it was for the Vikings to pencil him in for 20-25 carries a game for as long as they did, and for Peterson to deliver in the way that he did, today’s NFL does not demand a dominant running back. It demands an effective running game and an efficient, playmaking passing game.
There was only one Peterson, a gifted athlete who willed the Vikings to the playoffs in 2012 with a breathtaking season. There will always be a guy like Tate — with six career 100-yard games and two seasons over 750 yards to his credit — to grab in free agency or off the waiver wire to bolster a committee.
One is a convenient luxury (Peterson alone rushed for 4.5 yards per carry last season). One is an effective reality (the Vikings, primarily without Peterson this year, have averaged 4.6 yards per rushing attempt this year).
Now the Vikings are on the other side and might stay there for a long time.