How are the Browns Going to "Tackle" the Adrian Peterson Dilemma?

“Dilemma” – a problem offering at least two solutions none of which appears to be practically acceptable.  That is Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson.

On the heels of Steve’s piece about the Browns’ draftee running back James Davis, we thought this was an opportune moment to elicit some opinions on how best the Browns should deal with Peterson on opening day at Cleveland Browns Stadium.  The Vikes are a hell of an opponent to be playing when we are trying to overcome our abysmal home opener record over the last several years. 

Last evening, the Vikings beat the Houston Texans 17-10 in pre-season action.  QB Brett Favre played three quarters of good football, but there is no question whose team the Vikings are:  Peterson’s.  His legs and lower body  looked stronger than ever, and his speed was noticeable on the very first play from scrimmage when he busted open a long TD run.  There was an interesting comment made on the NFL Network that Peterson may do this season for Favre what Terrell Davis did for an aging John Elway in the Broncos’ two Super Bowl winning seasons;  take some pressure off the QB which may lead to less turnovers and greater overall success.

The dilemma presented by Adrian Peterson is this.  If we stack the box in order to increase our chances to contain him, then we make ourselves vulnerable to the outside passing game (and Percy Harvin showed some flashes for Minnesota last evening as well).  If we run blitz, then we have exposure to passes over the middle.  If we make no special adjustments for Peterson, then we could be in for a very long day on the ground.

It likely helped the Browns having played against the Titans in the pre-season already.  The Team had made some adjustments for Titans’ Pro Bowl running back Chris Johnson, but unfortunately those strategies were not put to a serious test as Johnson got limited action.  It is also positive that our defense seems to have a rejuvenated look with Ryan at the helm, the addition of Eric Barton and the play of Jackson and Wimbley.  The return of our Pro Bowl nosetackle Rogers on opening day will provide a better anchor in the middle.

Some of us remember that 49ers – Vikings game in December 2007 when San Francisco concentrated on Peterson all week prior to the game and held him to a career low 3 yards total on 14 carries.  The sad fact is that the Vikings still won because the 49ers were so pathetic in every other facet of the game.  Adrian is better now than he was on that day.  And, obviously, the QB position has improved for Minnesota.  San Fran used a combination of run blitzing, staggered defensive formations and creeping linebackers into the box to stop Peterson.  There is no one solution.  What do you think is the best strategy?

Go Browns!

-Clayton

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