Adrian Peterson really was terrible on shotgun runs last year


Adrian Peterson says he’s working on being a better runner on shotgun plays, but he has a long way to go.

If you watched the Vikings last year and paid any attention at all, you don’t need to be told that Adrian Peterson was a much less effective runner when the offense went to shotgun.

Just in case you still weren’t convinced, maybe thinking your eyes were playing tricks on you, the website Football Outsiders has offered up some supporting statistics.

Using their “success rate” metric, a formula that breaks down a running back’s individual runs taking down-and-distance into account, Football Outsiders probed Peterson’s effectiveness when running out of the shotgun.

And the result was about what you would expect if you were indeed paying attention.

According to FO, Peterson’s success rate jumped to 45% on plays where Teddy Bridgewater was lined up under center.

The issue here is more than just Peterson’s own lack of efficiency when removed from his comfort zone of lining up seven yards deep behind a QB who is under center, taking the hand off and exploding through the line. This plays into how defenses approach the Vikings as well.

With Peterson struggling so mightily running in the shotgun, teams can just blitz the heck out of the Vikings any time they see those formations, knowing that Peterson likely won’t be able to burn them if he does get the hand-off.

The Vikings this season must find ways to make teams pay if/when they blitz, whether that means throwing more on first down, letting Jerick McKinnon play more, running more draw plays/screens or whatever.

Norv Turner last year allowed himself to get too predictable in his playcalling especially on first down, and it hurt the team. This year Pat Shurmur has been brought in to offer some advice on how to get more out of the team’s shotgun/spread looks.

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No matter what adjustments the Vikings make in playcalling, blocking etc., Adrian Peterson still has to get better when he’s in there in shotgun, otherwise the Vikings will develop too many obvious tendencies and defenses will have no problem attacking.

Peterson says he’s working on all aspects of his game, including being more patient and effective on shotgun runs, but it’s all just talk until he does it on the field.