Are Cordarrelle Patterson and Adrian Peterson unstoppable? NFL Media Senior Analyst Gil Brandt said as much in one of his recent columns. Brandt's opinion matters, too. He was Vice President of Player Personnel for the Cowboys from 1960 to 1989 and helped Dallas grow into one of the most powerful and popular sports franchises in America.
Brandt named Patterson and Peterson among 11 NFL players who satisfy the "unstoppable" distinction. So what makes these two Vikings unstoppable? Let's take a look…
PattersonSpeed, versatility, vision. Those three traits, more than any other, are what make Patterson an unstoppable force. He uses all three traits as a weapon on both offense and special teams.
On offense, Patterson is versatile in that he scored touchdowns last season on both receptions and rushes. New Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner will utilize Patterson's versatility this season by lining him up as a receiver outside and in the slot, by motioning and shifting with him, and by using him in the backfield on occasion. Patterson's speed comes in handy on offense when he tries to create separation from a defender before the catch as well as when he breaks into the open field and runs away from defenders once the football is in his hands. Two plays that illustrate Patterson's vision on offense were the 79-yard touchdown reception on a bubble screen against the Ravens and then his 50-yard touchdown run against the Lions.
As a returner, it's Patterson's speed and, perhaps more importantly, his vision that allow him to dice up opposing coverage teams. He had kickoff return touchdowns of 105 and 109 yards in 2013, and you don't accomplish that without great speed. Additionally, Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer has high praise for Patterson's vision. The 105-yard return against Chicago, for example, was made possible because of two great blocks – a double team by John Carlson and Joe Berger and then a seal block by Zach Line. Patterson's vision allowed him to stick his foot in the ground and cut upfield between these two blocks at precisely the right time, exposing a crease the Chicago's coverage team and propelling Patterson to the end zone.
PetersonHeart, Speed, Strength. Long runs in which Peterson's speed is just too much for a defense to handle are a plenty, including the first carry of the 2013 season, in which Peterson dashed 79 yards for a score. Strength comes in the form of endurance and power for Peterson, as he shoulders the load of 20 carries per game season-after-season yet shows no signs of wearing down and is still known for breaking tackles as he enters his eighth season in 2014. And heart, do we really need to expound on this one? How about Peterson's 11-yard touchdown against the Cowboys last season, in which he dragged a handful of defenders with him for the final four yards of what was an epic score.
There may be other running backs who possess this combination of traits – heart, speed and strength. But there isn't one other running back who possesses that combination of traits to the extent of Adrian Peterson. Two runs that illustrate this combination best are his 64-yard touchdown run against the Browns in 2009 and his 82-yard scoring run against the Packers at Lambeau Field in 2012.