The Vikings head into the 2017 season with Latavius Murray heading the backfield, a far better fit at the position than Adrian Peterson.
Okay, let me rephrase that: Latavius Murray is better than Adrian Peterson for the Minnesota Vikings THIS SEASON.
There’s no arguing that Peterson will go down as one of the greatest backs of all-time and represent the Vikings in the Hall of Fame someday. To date, Peterson has 11,747 yards, sixteenth all-time, and likely will place in the top five of rushing once his career is all set and done.
But, Peterson’s Achilles heel has always been out of the shotgun, where he’s struggled in pass protection, as well as being a reliable pass catcher. His statistics show that rushing from the shotgun has equally been tough for Peterson. Outside of 2007 and 2011, years not recorded by ESPN.com, Peterson has rushed from the shotgun 110 times for 378 yards for a 3.4 yards per carry, far below his career average of 4.9.
It was made evident by last season, an offense under Pat Shurmur wants to run out of the shotgun. In fact, 445 of Bradford’s 552 pass attempts were in the shotgun, along with 122 of 380 rush attempts.
Even under former offensive coordinator Norv Turner, the offense was destined for more shotgun sets, but couldn’t in order to accommodate Peterson.
In Turner’s first season, they ran 172 times in the shotgun due to Peterson missing almost the whole season, whereas they ran only 69 times in 2015 when Peterson started every game, according to ESPN.com.
The 2016 Vikings offense was heading in a similar direction with Peterson only carrying the ball in the shotgun six times in his first 31 carries before going down with a knee injury. As stated, the Vikings would finish out the season rushing 122 times from the shotgun.
Basically, the time for Peterson to go was now.
So, enter in Latavius Murray, the former Oakland Raiders running back that can have far greater success in Shurmur’s offensive scheme than Peterson could.
In Murray’s three year career in Oakland, he grew accustomed to playing in the shotgun. Murray found himself running 188 times for 769 yards for a 4.1 yards per carry. Even greater, Murray was one of the best pass protectors in the backfield last season.
Additionally, 11 of Murray’s 12 TDs last season came from within the opposing team’s 10-yard line, showing that he has a nose for the end zone. This bodes well for a team that ranked 29th in the NFL with a 46 percent red zone efficiency in 2016.
More from Sporting Sota
- Minnesota Twins bullpen will be their downfall
- Top 5 Minnesota Twins Pitching Prospects
- Kyle Rudolph signing gives stability to Minnesota Vikings offense
- Jake Odorizzi’s emergence fueling Twins starting staff
- Former Minnesota Twins player David Ortiz shot
Murray is also useful as a pass catcher, catching 74 balls on 95 targets for 496 yards in two years as the Raiders’ starting running back. Better numbers than Peterson, who recorded 59 catches on 75 targets for 393 yards in his last two seasons in which he played a majority of games.
Now, let’s not expect the eye-popping numbers that Peterson has given the Vikings, mainly in the rushing categories over the years. Yet, expect an addition to the backfield that fits well into what the Vikings are trying to do offensively this season.
Murray gives the team a well-rounded back that can do the kinds of things Shurmur is looking for out of the backfield, whether in the run or pass game.
While I fully expect rookie Dalvin Cook to make an impact on this year’s squad, look for Murray to start the year as the lead back and be part of a solid one, two, three punch, along with Jerick McKinnon.
While the Vikings may have lost arguably the greatest back of all-time, they added one that fits perfectly into their offensive scheme and will make the loss of Peterson an afterthought as the season moves on.
Sporting Sota is your home for all things Minnesota sports! Twins, Vikings, Wolves, Wild and Gophers news and opinion is all right here!