Saturday, December 27, 2008

Killing Time: The One, True Purple Jesus

The Purple Jesus

Adrian Peterson rushing yards this season alone would crack the top twenty for career rushing yards by a Viking. If he didn’t get a yard against the Giants, this would be the 38th most rushing yards in an NFL season and if he gets 117 yards, he’ll crack the top twenty. And if he gets 1 43 yards, he’ll become the 15th running back in the history of the NFL to rush for 1800 yards in a season. He’s currently 9th among Vikings in career rushing yards and he has an outside chance of passing Michael Bennett for 8th all time this season (he needs 177 yards to do so). He only needs two more yards to crack 3000 yards for his career and he’s rushed for more yards in his first two years than nine of the running backs in the top ten in rushing yards (only Eric Dickerson had more yards his first two years than Peterson). This is his second season. Think about that. If there’s a player that has earned the “Purple Jesus” nickname, it’s Adrian Peterson. What he has done just defies my ability to describe.

There are two things, however, that Vikings’ fans should be concerned about when it comes to AD. The first was demonstrated very clearly on Sunday—he’s fumble prone. As the Pro Football Reference blog points out, that’s likely a result of his ability to gain yards no other back can (and goes on to look at what an optimal turnover rate might be). Also, Peterson apparently took my advice and carried a football around all week like Omar Epps did in the Program.

The second issue that Vikings fans should be worried about is his work load. He only needs 28 carries to reach 370 for the year, and as Smarter Stats shows, that’s a work load that almost no running back can handle without breaking down (or having their performance fall off markedly). Peterson has carried the ball more than 28 times in four games this year (IND, GNB, CHI, @ ARI). Giving him the ball 29 times against the Colts and 30 times against the Packers makes sense to me. Both games were decided by a field goal. Giving him the ball 28 times against Chicago, including five times after the Vikings went up 31-14 with eight minutes left, does not. Nor does giving him 28 carries, including 13 in the second half, in the blowout of the Cardinals. And even if he doesn’t get to 370 carries this year, he’ll have still carried the ball a tremendous amount, and absorbed the punishment that comes with running the ball 360 times. It’s something Childress needs to keep in mind against the Giants and next year (if he's still around next year). There is no greater sin that Childress could commit that would be worse than ruining Adrian Peterson’s career by over working him.

T.J. and Tarvaris

Tarvaris Jackson’s one year old son, Tarvaris, Jr. (If you had an awesome first name like Tarvaris, you’d pass your name along too) has been battling health issues all season. This is the first I’ve heard of it, and it makes Tarvaris’s transformation from benched quarterback to clear starter (and there is no doubt in my mind that he should be starting this game over a healthy Gus Frerotte) all the more remarkable. Best wishes to his son, and hopefully he can bring home a division crown for him.

This game is going to be the first time that Tarvaris Jackson faces an elite pass rush (the Giants are 5th in adjusted sack rate) since returning from the bench. If the Vikings are smart, they’ll try and get the ball to Chester Taylor in the passing game. The Giants’ pass defense has the worst DVOA in the NFL against running backs. The reason I say Taylor and not Peterson is because Taylor’s one of the best receiving running backs in the NFL and Peterson is one of the worst. Taylor’s 11th in the NFL amongst backs in DYAR and 12th in DVOA and he’s caught 81% of the 54 passes thrown his way. Peterson is 51st in DYAR and 50th in DVOA and he’s only caught 54% of the 39 passes thrown his way. (Adjusted Sack Rate, DYAR and DVOA courtesy of Football Outsiders)

1000 yards

Bernard Berrian needs 117 receiving yards to become the tenth Viking with 1000 receiving yards in a season and the first since Nate Burleson in 2004. It’s probably a long shot though—he’s only had that many receiving yards in a game twice in his career, although both games were this year (against Detroit and against Chicago). He only needs 69 yards to surpass his previous season high of 951 yards, which he set last year. That’s a lot more likely, as he’s had seven games this year where he had at least 69 yards, although all of them came with Frerotte at quarterback.

Purple Pass Catching Tight Ends

After gaining 136 receiving yards against the Falcons, Visanthe Shaincoe cracked the top ten all time for receiving yards by a Vikings’ tight end. The top ten is below (courtesy of Pro Football Reference). Two things stick out—the first is Joe Senser’s remarkable 1981 season. I’ll be honest—while I know of him because of his restaurant, I didn’t know he was that good of a player. It’s too bad that he suffered a career ending knee injury in 1982. Of course, his retirement led to the second most striking part of the list; the dominance and consistency of Senser’s replacement, Steve Jordan. When you have half the spots in the top ten (and 60% of the spots in the top 5) you’re clearly the best player to ever play the position in Purple. And in case you were wondering, the tight end who was 10th before Shaincoe's big game? Steve Jordan.

  1. Joe Senser, 1981--1004 yards
  2. Steve Jordan, 1986—859 yards
  3. Steve Jordan, 1985—795 yards
  4. Steve Jordan, 1988—756 yards
  5. Jermaine Wiggins, 2004—705 yards
  6. Byron Chamberlain, 2001—666 yards
  7. Steve Jordan, 1991—638 yards
  8. Steve Jordan, 1990—636 yards
  9. Visanthe Shaincoe, 2008—582 yards
  10. Jermain Wiggins, 2005—568 yards

The Giants Schedule

The Giants have a chance to set a record for Quality Wins (wins over teams with a winning record) in the regular season (and then in the playoffs) if things break their way on Sunday. Do not underestimate the Giants—this is a talented team that has played and beaten some very good teams. Even with some of their starters resting, they have the ability to beat the Vikings.

Go Lions

The only thing that could possibly make me feel better tomorrow if the Vikings lose and da Bears win is if the Packers lose to the Lions. That would be a black mark on their franchise that no other franchise could match—a loss to a 0-15 team, the worst team ever. Schadenfreude is a beautiful thing. It is a beautiful thing.

Playoff Scenarios

Joe Posnanski explains the various playoff scenarios. Yes, I could have found a better, more concise article on this subject to link to, but I’m going to take every opportunity I have to link to the best sports writer in America (and thus possibly spread the joy of reading him). Read him and thank me later.

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