Last year the Minnesota Vikings ended their regular season with a photo finish while clinching a playoff spot in the final week 17 matchup against the Green Bay Packers. At the same time, they also knocked the Chicago Bears out of the playoffs; a feat that I’m sure they were thrilled to be able to simultaneously accomplish.
Without a doubt, the biggest story out of Minnesota last season was that of running back Adrian Peterson returning so quickly from a torn ACL suffered in 2011-2012. Peterson returned in time for the season opener and did everything he could to will his team to the postseason. Rushing for over 2,000 yards, Peterson came just nine yards short of the all-time single season rushing record.
It was a year filled with fiercely broken tackles, brutal stiff arms and lightning quick breakaway runs for Peterson as he took home the NFL MVP award, finishing above another deserving contender Peyton Manning. He was rightfully awarded the prize and at the same time ran his team right into the NFL Playoffs as a Wildcard.
With all of that said, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman recently revealed his thoughts on both Peterson and quarterback Christian Ponder in regards to their influence on the team’s playoff berth.
“I give him just as much credit for getting us in the playoffs as Adrian (Peterson),” Spielman told NFL Network.
While I admire his support for the team’s quarterback, I have to wonder whether or not he and I were watching the same backfield last year. Ponder had his share of success, but he also dipped down below a passer rating of 75 in six games according to NFL Network’s Stats crew.
Ponder started out the year very well, surging into the top five passer ratings in the league over the course of the first quarter of the season. As the season progressed, he took steps back in quite a few areas, most notably being his completions. Due to this consistently below-average play, Peterson was widely given most of the credit for the team’s successes game in and game out by just about every analyst and reporter commenting on the issue.
The confidence of a general manager is a great attribute to have for a starting quarterback, but Spielman also needs to come back to earth. Ponder has a long road to go, and Spielman better hope he has the coaching staff in place to further the quarterback’s development. If the Vikings are to have the same type of success in 2013 – which I believe is very possible – Ponder will need to be the reason that happens.