We suggested earlier this week, despite being called idiots and worse because of it, that the Minnesota Vikings eventually should consider benching running back Adrian Peterson in response to his inability to consistently hold onto the football.
Our contention that Peterson should find himself sitting down while the rest of the offense is playing arises from the reality that, without true accountability, Peterson will never make a meaningful effort to secure the football. (And it’s obvious that he doesn’t; he loosely cradles it against his forearm and he seems to lack the ability to recognize when wrap it up with both arms. Given his legendary hand strength, if he were to properly secure the ball when defenders are trying to rip it out, Peterson never would lose it.)
Lo and behold, the Vikings have made it clear this week to Peterson that, if the ball keeps bouncing on the ground, he’ll be benched.
The simple message to Peterson from running backs coach Eric Bieniemy? “Your issues have become our issues.”
“If I continue to fumble the ball, especially now in this stretch, I’m
sure I’ll be sitting on the sideline and that’s something I definitely
don’t want to do,” Peterson said Thursday, per Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “So [I'll] take care of the
Though coach Brad Childress has unconditionally supported Peterson, the coach realizes the value of accountability.
“It’s good that those kind of thoughts hover around every now and then,” Childress said Thursday, regarding Peterson’s remarks.
As Bieniemy explains it, Peterson’s potential path to the pine is paved with good intentions.
“He’s in the crowd fighting for yards, and he’s so determined at trying
to fight to get that extra inch or two. I told him, ‘You have to
surrender at times. Protect the ball, be aware of it and, hey, you’ve
got to go down.’ Because that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
I could care less how many yards you get, how many blocks you make, how
many catches. If you don’t protect the ball, we don’t win the game. So
we’ve got to protect it.”
Bieniemy also pointed out that opponents are now specifically attacking the ball when Peterson is running, standing him up and ripping the ball out.
Peterson knows it. And he says he’ll try to correct it.
“I’m just going to start being more aware of putting two hands on the ball and going down at times,” Peterson said.
Still, one week of pep talks and film study won’t likely reverse years of habit and instinct. Eventually, the Vikings might have to find out whether an ongoing failure to treat the ball like it’s a box of donuts at a fat farm requires Peterson to ponder his performance while watching someone else in purple carrying the football.