All things considered, the 2014 season could have gone a lot worse for the Minnesota Vikings. After losing Adrian Peterson after Week 1 – and with a rookie quarterback under center – things could have easily spiraled. And fast.
Instead, the Vikings were more than respectable, finishing 7-9 despite losing four games by three points or fewer.
With Peterson back in the fold and Bridgewater entering his second season as the starter, Minnesota has reason to hope in 2015.
“I think they’ve done a pretty decent job,” former Vikings defensive end and 2012 NFL Hall of Fame inductee Chris Doleman said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think (they’ve) settled on Teddy Bridgewater. I think with AP coming back, it’s the best position for him. Now Teddy, even though we know this is a passing league, Teddy doesn’t have to feel like he has to push the football all over the field like a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning. Now they can kind of come back to basic football, which I’m happy to see because now you got to defend against the run and the pass. (Bridgewater) also can run pretty well himself. So with a year under his belt, he’s seen what it looks like, he should be much better this year, and I think he has a really high upside on him.”
The same may or may not be true for Peterson, who enters his age-30 season with a couple of question marks. Will he be able to carry the load at an age when most running backs decline? Will he get along with ownership? Will the city and team welcome him back and embrace him?
“Well, AP has been good in the city, the team hasn’t turned their back on him, and I don’t think Minnesota has turned their back on him,” Doleman said. “Things happen. How we discipline our children, I think it’s all about how we were disciplined. Some people think that raising your voice at your kids or threatening them is terroristic. But everybody has their own way. There is no manual. There is no right or wrong. You learn how to raise your kids and how to become adults from your parents. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes that’s not good. But I know that AP is the type of guy who do care about children, his kids. I do know that he’s a guy who spends a lot of time in the community, working with kids. And, on top of that, this is the place where he needs to be. If AP is going to make the Hall of Fame, this is where it’s going to happen. It’s not going to happen anywhere else.”
But why not? Players get traded all the time and still wind up in Canton. Why does Peterson need to stay in Minnesota?
“They’re devaluing the running back position around the league,” Doleman said. “You look at (LeSean) McCoy; you look at (DeMarco) Murray. First of all, Murray was the best running back in the league last year, I thought. To get rid of him, to say that we’re just going to focus on (Tony) Romo handling the helm and pushing the ball all over the field to Dez Bryant, that’s a big, big step. You’re looking at some of your top running backs in the league that are literally being pushed to other places. There was a day that Barry Sanders would never be traded, Emmitt Smith would never be traded, Marcus Allen would never be traded, Eric Dickerson would never be traded. They just (didn’t) do it. (They were) too valuable. AP can catch it and run it. This is where he needs to be.”