Bears face big challenge in stopping Peterson
The Bears have had some success against Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, but shutting him down is almost impossible.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
Stopping the Vikings' all-world running back Adrian Peterson is a lot like the weather — everyone talks about it, but no one does much about it.
The Lions actually did a decent job on "A.P." last week — well, after he bolted 78 yards for a touchdown on his first touch of the season. But after that the reigning MVP had just 15 yards on 17 carries, although he did score another 2 TDs, including 1 on a reception.
Last season "All Day" reinvented the rehabilitation-and-recovery timeline for an ACL injury. He rushed for 2,097 yards, just 8 short of the NFL record. Peterson also picked up 262 yards on 49 carries (5.3-yard average) against the Bears.
"I don't have to look at the tape to evaluate him," said Bears coach Marc Trestman, who spent the early part of this week focused on the Vikings' defense. "He's exactly what you see. Every time he touches the ball, it looks like he feels like it may be the last time he ever touches a football again, and you see that a lot.
"He knew the player he wanted to come back and be (after the knee injury). He'll be all we can handle. The guys here have played against him enough to know that. It should make for a heck of a football game."
The Bears have had some success against Peterson, and they've had the good fortune to play the Vikings when "The Purple Jesus," as he is known, was injured. They faced Peterson just once each in 2010 and '11, and they held him to a total of 90 yards on 29 carries for a 3.1-yard average.
The Bears held the Bengals to 63 yards on 21 carries last week, a 3.0-yard average, but Peterson presents a huge step up in class.
"He's one of the best backs to ever play the game," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "So everyone's got to do their job; I mean, everyone. Everyone has to be at the point of attack every time he gets the ball. Front side, back side, D-line, linebackers, secondary.
"Every time he gets the ball he can go the distance. It's a matter of technique and fundamentals, and everyone fitting where they're supposed to fit, and playing hard and getting a population on the ball. We don't want to leave it up to one guy."
Players who have faced Peterson in the past realize that a one-on-one with him is generally a no-win situation.
"When he's matched up one-on-one on a guy, he's just so powerful, so we need to population-tackle him," defensive end Corey Wootton said. "We have to play disciplined, gap-to-gap football and rally to the ball."
Because Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has struggled with consistency, opponents have crammed eight or nine defenders in the box to try to neutralize Peterson. But down the stretch last season, he was still close to unstoppable, rushing for 1,598 yards in the last 10 games.
"(It's) his strength, speed (and) ability to change direction," Bears safety Chris Conte said. "He's shifty, and he has a nice stiff arm. He's the best running back in the league, so he's got the best combination of all those things."
Peterson has said his goal this year is to rush for 2,500 yards, a milestone that has never been approached, but Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier isn't about to doubt him.
"With Adrian Peterson, I've learned to never say never," Frazier said. "What he did a season ago coming off ACL surgery, there's no way I could have predicted that.
"So it's possible. If he believes it, it's possible."
•Follow Bob's NFL reports on Twitter @BobLeGere, and check out his Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com/sports.
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