Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who is the most important Viking?

John Lopez of Sports Illustrated identifies Adrian Peterson as the player the Vikings can least afford to lose:

"But what happens if Peterson goes down? Devastation to all Vikes hopes. That's what happens."

Adrian Peterson is an excellent running back. I do not believe, however, that he is indispensable to the Vikings, and I do not believe he's the most important player on the team.

It is easy to think Peterson is indispensable, since he is the team's best offensive player and arguably the team's best player. The Vikings win by running the ball, and Peterson is the dominant RB for the team. But the Vikings do have a very good backup in Chester Taylor. In 2007, when Adrian Peterson missed two games with injury, the Vikes went 2-0 as Taylor had 291 total yards and 4 touchdowns. In his career, Taylor has 4.3 rushing yards per attempt, and he's also an effective receiver (three seasons with 40+ receptions). He's more explosive than he's often given credit for: in 2006 he had a 95 yard run, and in 2007 he had an 84 yard run. Taylor is not a great RB, but he is a good RB.

I certainly think Adrian Peterson makes the Vikings much better, and in the past two years we've seen him simply take over football games on several occasions. But if Adrian Peterson were to get injured, the Vikings still have a dominant defensive line, a good overall defense, a giant offensive line, and some talented and fast skill position players. They'd still be a very talented, very good football team.

Am I wrong? Do you think Adrian Peterson is, in fact, the most critical player on the Vikings, the one player they can't succeed without? I'd like to nominate some other candidates:

Antoine Winfield
He's a great run-stopping cornerback, and by far the best pass defender in the secondary. Without Winfield, I think the the secondary starts to look vulnerable. Maybe awful.

Jared Allen
Allen single-handedly gives the Vikings a fearsome pass rush, which can transform the Viking defense from good to dominant.

Kevin Williams
I'm not sure there's a more dominant player on the Vikings. His quickness and power makes him a disruptive force against the run and the pass.


  1. How about that guy, what's his name .... Brett Favre?

    If he plays like the turds we've had a QB the past two years, we're a one-and-done playoff team at best. If he plays close to the level he showed as recently as 2007, maybe our dreams of a Super Bowl come true.

  2. Anonymous10:39 AM

    Other than qb, the most important position in the NFL is the outside pass rusher. With an outside pass rusher who can require a double team, to avoid very frequent qb pressures, the defense gets to dictate terms to the offense. Without it, the offense dictates terms, especially if the qb and receivers have above average talent. When the outside pass rusher also plays the run very well, as Allen does, then you have a player whose value is only exceeded by the very best quarterbacks.

    Peterson, as great as he is, primarily runs the ball in a league where passing dominates, and, as you note, his back up is a very high quality player. The gap between Allen and Robison is huge. Chestor Taylor, in the right situation, could conceivably play at a Pro Bowl level. Robison isn't close to that.

    Please, Football Fates, let Jared Allen start every game!

  3. I would certain put Peterson, Allen, and K-Will as my top three, in some order. I'm still a little iffy on Winfield, especially given his age. I might put EJ Henderson (if he returns at full strength from injury) and Hutch above him.

  4. I know this is cheating, but I think that this is a prime example of why Football might be the ULTIMATE team sport: there's just no way to pick the one most invaluable player (at least on a good team) because AP, Allen, K.Will, EJ, Hutch, Winfield, Greenway, etc. are ALL so dominant we'd notice any of them not being there

  5. Anonymous4:44 PM

    No question, it is Sullivan. If he does not snap the ball, we go no where.