After 10 seasons in Minnesota, 32-year-old Adrian Peterson is hoping for a resurgent year in a new environment with the New Orleans Saints, but it remains to be seen how the power runner fits in with New Orleans' pass-heavy offense.
One anonymous coach told Bleacher Report that he believes Peterson can put up huge numbers once again with the Saints, and while Shannon Sharpe is skeptical of the fit, Skip Bayless argued on Wednesday's episode of "Undisputed" that Sean Payton is the perfect coach for Peterson.
Adrian Peterson needs carries, and he might not get them
“I disagree for a lot of different reasons, but the main reason I disagree is I don’t think he’ll get the volume of carries that he needs to be Adrian Peterson. They have Mark Ingram, he’s there. He’s a very solid running back. They’re paying him a lot of money.
"I don’t see them paying him the amount of money they’re paying him to only have 100-150 rush attempts. That anonymous coach? I have a pretty good hunch that it was Joel Thomas. Do you know who that is, Skip? That’s the running back coach of the Saints. That’s who said Adrian Peterson is going to turn back the hands of time and Sean Payton is going to make him into a great running back again. What’s he supposed to say?”
Chris HumphreysChris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Peterson doesn't bring versatility to the Saints
“Adrian is a volume carry guy, and we’ve seen guys like this. The more touches you give them, the better they are. Skip, he’s not a Gillislee, he’s not a James White. A guy that’s going to give you 45, 50 yards rushing, give you another 35, 50 yards receiving.
"... He gets better [the more you give him the ball.] The benchmark is 20. Anything you start to give him after that, you start seeing an advantageous effect because he starts to wear down the defense. And then on his 23rd carry, he’s apt to go 50. On his 28th carry, he’s apt to go 80 - because we’ve seen him do it.
"I just don’t think he gets the volume of touches that he needs. He's basically a two-down back. Now if it’s 3rd-and-1, obviously you can put him in there, but he’s not a guy that has the versatility that he can play every down. That’s not what he is.”
Matt KartozianMatt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
He's proven in the past that he can rebound from major injuries
“Now I hate to be the one - and I’m not going to bet against him, because I saw people bet against him when he had the knee injury [in 2011], and he came back [as] a 2,000-yard rusher. He’s an MVP. He missed all of 2014 on the commissioner’s exempt list, we don’t need to explain why he missed it, but he did. He came back and led the league in rushing. So he’s a guy that always feels like he has something to prove - and not always necessarily to prove you wrong, but he wants to prove himself right. He says, ‘I know what I put into this, and I know what I’m capable of doing, this is what I expect to get out of it.’
"So it’s hard to bet against him, but I just don’t believe he gets the volume of touches that he needs to be most effective."
Benny SieuBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Sean Payton is the key
"So, gut feeling right here, right now… I think you’re leaning toward Marshawn Lynch having a better year in Oakland than Adrian Peterson will have in New Orleans.
"I’m the flip side of you. The more I think about Sean Payton saying ‘I want that guy, and I’m going to show you what I can do with what’s left of Adrian Peterson,’ at age 32 after 10 NFL seasons. I think Adrian Peterson is ready to be a terror. I think he’s going to strike fear into the NFL’s hearts again.
"And the reason being that even though the situation is much better in Oakland, they just elevated some no-name guy [Todd Downing] who had been bouncing around… I was surprised they elevated him from quarterbacks coach. But that’s a whole new world with him calling their plays, even though he’s been in the system."
Shannon Sharpe: “And expectations of what that team and that offense should be.”
Skip Bayless: “It is huge. The pressure is on that guy now.”
Derick E. HingleDerick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Peterson's durability is the big question mark
“Sean Payton is the best play-caller in pro football. And when Sean Payton wants to prove a point, and when Drew Brees decides he wants to prove a point, I think the point is going to get proven.
"Now what I don’t know, the X-factor here is… we know Adrian’sgoing to be in [prime] shape. He’s there. Whatever he can be, he will max that out. I don’t know how long his knees are going to last. I can’t know that, because he’s had two big knee injuries.”
Chuck CookChuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
The Saints know they need a more balanced offense
“But let’s say, hypothetically, he stays healthy all year.
"I told you, I looked across the table into Drew Brees’ eyes at the Super Bowl when we had him on the show, and he was a little miffed at my question about ‘why did you throw it so much?’
"And his point was ‘because we kept falling behind every game.’ They went 7-9. And the look in his eyes told me - remember, Drew Brees is 38 years old. He’s getting up in that Brady territory.
"So the look told me that he’s ready to right the wrong, however it needs to be righted, of what happened last year. When they had the most yards in the NFL, scored the second-most points and they finished 7-9. So I think he’s willing to sacrifice some of his ego. I think Sean Payton, who as we talked about yesterday is a Parcells disciple, will want to balance it up.”
Jason GetzJason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Feeding the ball to Adrian Peterson will only help the Saints' defense
“The only way to cover for a bad defense - that didn’t seem to get much better, maybe it will in the draft - is to keep it off the field. And the only way to do that is to run the ball a whole lot more.
"So if you look at how many times they carried the ball in 2009, which is 468 carries, they’re going to be a lot more available to Adrian Peterson. Now Mark Ingram had a career year last year with 1,043 yards, but he did it on 205 carries. What if Adrian gets 250 carries?
"... I think he could have a big year if he stays healthy, because they’re going to make it right for him.”