Slowing down Adrian Peterson …
You don’t read the words “slowing down” and “Adrian Peterson” in the same sentence often. I, along with 31 NFL defensive coordinators, have no idea how to slow this guy down, as proven by his 2012 season.
Last year, Peterson came eight yards short of one of the more prestigious records in all of football, the single-season rushing record. This year, A.P. believes he’ll reach the 2,500-yard mark. I want to laugh at that, but until done is done you can’t discount this guy.
Last Sunday in Detroit, Peterson fell seven yards short of the 100-yard mark. He had one long 78-yard TD run but was then held to 15 rushing yards the rest of the way (0.88 yards per rush on 17 carries). The Lions didn’t adjust their game plan much after the long touchdown run, they just made more plays, lining up eight or nine players in the box and rarely going to their nickel or dime formations.
On that TD run, the Lions had nine in the box and a single-high safety. Peterson made a cut to beat cornerback Darius Slay on the linebacker level and then made free safety Louis Delmas look silly, which led to open space with no safety help.
Detroit never went away from this defensive formation and dared Christian Ponder beat them in the passing game, staying focused on limiting Adrian Peterson.
The only adjustments came with the interior defensive linemen stuffing the run and the linebackers filling up gaps. Nick Fairley got fantastic push all day, cutting down running lanes and not allowing Peterson to find the seam.
The lead tackler was DeAndre Levy with seven tackles and a tackle for loss. He was a major part of the push in the middle of the line. The Lions had corners making tackles in the back field and overwhelmed the Vikings’ running game with personnel.
In the last outing between the Bears and the Vikings, Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns. That game essentially ended the Bears’ season, giving the Vikings the tiebreaker. The Chicago defense will look to redeem themselves Sunday.
Stopping Adrian Peterson starts with DT Henry Melton, who was invisible against the Bengals. But, luckily for Melton, Stephen Paea stepped up and made great plays in the running game. Paea was constantly in the back field on running plays, disrupting plays before they got to the line of scrimmage. Melton has to get back to being the force he is in the A-gap.
The Bears will have to tackle much more efficiently this weekend. Arm tackles do not work against most players at this level, let alone A.P. His stiff arm causes space between defenders, so wrapping up and waiting for the confirmation tackle is one of the only ways to bring him down.
The linebackers, especially Briggs, will have to be better in pursuit this weekend and make sure to bring players to the ground and not allow them to spin out.
Safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright, who got burned last year when they came up to play the run, leading to long touchdown breaks, will have to be much better at keeping Peterson to the minimum. Their job is to keep everything in front of them and to force Peterson toward the sideline.
The Vikings play at a slow pace and only average about 55 snaps per game, which limits Peterson from the 30 or so carries he likes to get per week. If the Bears can methodically push the ball down the field on offense and get close to the 65-70 snap range they can limit Peterson’s production by simply keeping him off the field.
The Lions reached 77 snaps last week and limited Peterson to only 18 carries on offense. The Lions’ quick pace also helped them score faster, which put the Vikings in a losing situation where they were forced to move the ball through the air late in the game.
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