There’s a solid argument to be made for Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin being the best 1-2 punch in the NFL these days. Peterson hasn’t missed a beat after reconstructive knee surgery, and Harvin has evolved into the most dynamic receiver in football.
So naturally second year quarterback Christian Ponder has leaned heavily on his two best players through the first seven games of the season.
Peterson ran the ball 23 times, adding to his total of 163 plays he’s been utilized on this season. The 163 touches put him second in the NFL, only behind Arian Foster’s 193.
Meanwhile Harvin is sixth in the league with 67 targets, plus another 17 rushing attempts, and don’t forget about his kick returning duties either. Harvin even took the opening kickoff to the house on Sunday, only to have it called back after an illegal block in the back.
Point being that there becomes a time when the Vikings won’t always be able to rely on these two players. Yes, absolutely use them in crunch time and when plays made need to be made, but to to be a true contender, they must start to evolve their offense.
This of course starts at quarterback.
There’s no question Ponder has noticeably improved in his sophomore season, but the time has come for him to start growing from his ‘game-manager’ role. I think that if Ponder continues to manage games while leaning on his two stars, Minnesota can make the playoffs. It’s a strategy that’s good enough to be most NFL teams, but not the elite ones.
Elite defenses have the ability to limit Peterson and Harvin, and they will simply make Ponder beat them. After his performance yesterday (against an elite defense), I’m not sure the young quarterback is quite there.
Ponder looked very sloppy at times, again throwing two bad interceptions. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in week six, but after two straight games of bad interceptions, I’m starting to change my mind.
Minnesota knows what they’re going to get from Peterson and Harvin every Sunday, so it’s time they start getting others involved, namely Jerome Simpson and John Carlson. Both have been too quiet to start the season, and they’re too talented to remain quiet.
It’s become abundantly clear in the last two games that the Vikings will only go as far as Christian Ponder takes them. He needs to start spreading it around the field more, and let the rest of the team evolve with him.