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Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson told Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in a June telephone call he would like to play for the Cowboys at the end of his tenure with the Vikings, according to an “Outside the Lines” report.
“Well, I understand, Adrian,” Jones told Peterson during the call. “I’d like that, too … Well, I love your story. I love your daddy’s story. I’ve always respected what you’ve been about. I’ve always been a fan of yours.”
The telephone call is recounted as part of an expansive “Outside the Lines”/ESPN the Magazine profile of Jones by ESPN senior writer Don Van Natta Jr. that was published Thursday.
What’s interesting, of course, is that in the actual longer profile the version is a little different. Peterson never explicitly says he wants to play for the Cowboys — or at least we don’t get to hear that part of the conversation.
Then a man taps Jones on the shoulder, says Adrian Peterson wants to say hello and hands over an iPhone. Jones says hi to the Minnesota Vikings’ star running back and listens, nodding but not smiling. “Well, I understand, Adrian,” he says into the phone. The slanted smile returns. “I’d like that, too. … Well, I love your story. I love your daddy’s story. I’ve always respected what you’ve been about. I’ve always been a fan of yours.”
Listening to half the conversation, it is obvious Peterson is telling Jones he wants to play for the Cowboys. Peterson, 29, is in the fourth year of a seven-year, $100 million contract that will pay him $11.75 million this autumn to play for the Vikings.
“Well, we’ll see what we can do, if we can make that happen,” Jones is now saying. “Hmm-hmm. … I’d like that, too.”
In a statement released by the Vikings a few minutes after the ESPN report was posted, Peterson is quoted as saying: “This was a casual conversation between NFL colleagues in which I never indicated I wanted to leave the Vikings. I have always said I understand the NFL is a business but that I would love to retire as a Viking.”
The Vikings added: “We are focused on the 2014 season, and as we have consistently communicated, Adrian is an integral part of the Vikings organization.”
We look forward to seeing how the Vikings try to handle this, but we do not look forward to the endless hand-wringing of Vikings fans. Then again, Peterson is 29 years old, and some have suggested this could be his final year in Minnesota because of the way his contract is structured. Peterson, of course, is a Texas native and has said in previous interviews he was a big Cowboys fan growing up.
The Gophers football team won eight games last season, including four consecutive Big Ten contests for the first time in 40 years. The offense was ragged at times, but the defense made huge strides. In the hard to quantify “eye test,” the Gophers looked the part of a Big Ten team for the first time in a while. They were fundamentally sound and rarely made those crushing mistakes that cause fans (and coaches) to rant and rave. It made them enticing to watch, if not always exciting to watch.
As such, Minnesota enters a season with honest momentum for the first time in many years. A lot of established players are back — most notably in the secondary and on the offensive line, two positions that have become even more critical on a football field in recent years — and there are legitimate reasons to think that the team can take another step beyond last year’s progress.
Then again, there are legitimate reasons to think this season could take, at least in terms of achievement, a step back. The schedule is brutal. The passing game is still unproven. And even though the team’s depth looks to be improved, it’s hard to know for sure until the games begin.
As such, this season — which begins tonight with a home game against Eastern Illinois — could become a “defining” season in the tenure of Jerry Kill. If last year was the one that brought the program back to respectability, this one has the chance to either sustain, stifle or perhaps even exceed that.
Ultimately, even with a tough schedule, the year will be defined in a lot of ways by wins and losses. Anything less than seven wins is a step back. Seven or eight wins is a solid holding pattern against this slate. Anything better than that means we can start really getting excited about this program in 2014 and beyond.
Our money is on the solid holding pattern. But decades of Gophers history have told us to expect worse … while a few years of Kill have made us think we could expect even better.
If you were enjoying this 3-0 Vikings preseason a little too much, here’s the FiveThirtyEight site’s chance to throw water all over you.
Based on Vegas point spreads, the Vikings project to win 6.5 games this season — last in the NFC North. They have a 17 percent chance of making the playoffs and a mere 1 percent chance to win the Super Bowl.
That’s fairly expected. Maybe not even that bad. But the site also uses fancy numbers to arrive at this conclusion — not incorrectly — about Adrian Peterson and the running game:
Obviously Adrian Peterson’s long runs are worth something: They’re worth a lot of yards. But yards are easier than ever to come by in today’s game. No matter how great a running back is at breaking long ones, he’s not going to be as efficient at gobbling up yards as his team’s passing game is (no matter how mediocre the team’s quarterbacks are). On the other hand, the better a team is at strategically maximizing the running game, the more valuable those “bonus” yards become — because the running plays that produce them are no longer taking the place of passes.
In other words, if you can’t run consistently, it doesn’t matter if you can break a bunch of long runs, because you’d still be better off passing. But if you can run consistently, those long runs become gravy. None of this is to say that Peterson’s shortcomings necessarily reflect poorly on his running skills, no more than we can say the same for any running back’s underperformance. Peterson has simply produced a little below average at the bread-and-butter stuff that keeps the running game relevant, and this undercuts the value of his long runs considerably.
Long story short: Peterson is great at breaking long runs and a little below-average at churning out the good-but-not-great runs that eat clock, help the passing game and move the chains.
If you’d rather not think about that, let’s imagine a season in which Peterson actually gets some help from the passing game … and let’s end with Deadspin’s Green Bay Packers preview.
A fancy simulation found at ESPN Insider says the Wolves will win 32 games this season. That number is probably a little high, since simulations are not predictions and tend to be optimistic, but here is the methodology:
Just before the start of the 2014-15 season, we sorted teams into tiers based on projections, and we’re repeating the process today to see where teams stand after a tumultuous offseason. Team baseline win projections have been formulated by combining early SCHOENE forecasts with team projections generated by the same RPM-based methodology we used last week to rank players.
The hope is to balance out any inherent biases within the two systems and, in reality, the forecasts are pretty close for all but a couple of teams. Baseline wins were plugged into a Monte Carlo-style simulator of the 2014-15 schedule that accounted for home-court advantage and other scheduling factors. Finally, the top eight players on each team were used to calculate a postseason baseline, and using the seeds from each simulated regular season, the playoffs were played out. This process was repeated 1,000 times.
The results of all those probabilities and random numbers serve as the basis for separating the teams in tiers below. A lot has changed since last season. (To see just how much, just click on the final version of last spring’s Hollinger Playoff Odds.) Each team’s average win total in the 1,000 simulations is listed in parenthesis.
The Wolves are in the tier of teams expected to win more than 25 games but not make the playoffs, which sounds about right. As for 32 wins? We’d take that, and we imagine those with the Wolves would as well.
|NY Yankees - LP: B. McCarthy||3||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: J. Happ||4|
|Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett||5||FINAL|
|NY Mets - WP: D. Gee||6|
|Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto||3||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - LP: J. Hughes||2|
|Minnesota - LP: R. Nolasco||8||FINAL|
|Baltimore - WP: W. Chen||12|
|Boston - WP: C. Buchholz||3||FINAL|
|Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb||0|
|Detroit - LP: R. Porcello||2||FINAL|
|Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana||6|
|Texas - LP: N. Cotts||2||FINAL|
|Houston - WP: J. Veras||3|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: C. Villanueva||6||FINAL|
|St. Louis - WP: P. Neshek||9|
|Oakland - LP: S. Kazmir||1||FINAL|
|LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker||8|
|Milwaukee - LP: K. Lohse||5||FINAL|
|San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner||15|
|Los Angeles - WP: H. Ryu||7||FINAL|
|San Diego - LP: E. Stults||1|
|Washington - LP: T. Roark||3||FINAL|
|Seattle - WP: H. Iwakuma||5|
|Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa||2||FINAL|
|Arizona - WP: C. Anderson||6|
|Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi||0||FINAL|
|Atlanta - WP: A. Wood||1|
|Green Bay||9/4/14 7:30 PM|
|(5) Ohio State||34||FINAL|
|(17) Notre Dame||48|
|(10) South Dakota St||18||FINAL|
|(23) North Carolina||56|
|Stephen F Austin||16||FINAL|
|(20) Kansas State||55|
|(1) Florida State||37||FINAL|
|Arizona||9/4/14 7:00 PM|
|Pittsburgh||9/5/14 6:00 PM|
|Washington St||9/5/14 9:30 PM|
|SMU||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Fla Atlantic||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Buffalo||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(24) Missouri||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Arkansas State||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(8) McNeese State||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Central Mich||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Akron||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Western Ill||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(20) Kansas State||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(4) Oklahoma||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Western Ky||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|SC State||9/6/14 11:30 AM|
|Navy||9/6/14 12:00 PM|
|UAB||9/6/14 1:00 PM|
|South Alabama||9/6/14 1:00 PM|
|New Mexico St||9/6/14 1:00 PM|
|Colorado||9/6/14 2:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9/6/14 2:00 PM|
|(1) Eastern Wash||9/6/14 2:00 PM|
|(15) USC||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Ohio U||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Middle Tennessee||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Northern Ill||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Missouri State||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Ball State||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Maryland||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Eastern Mich||9/6/14 3:00 PM|
|Georgia Tech||9/6/14 3:00 PM|
|(18) Ole Miss||9/6/14 3:30 PM|
|Old Dominion||9/6/14 5:00 PM|
|(8) Michigan State||9/6/14 5:30 PM|
|(19) Arizona State||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|Louisiana Tech||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|San Jose St||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|East Carolina||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|(9) So Carolina|
|Duke||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|Idaho||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|(17) Sam Houston St||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|Michigan||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|(17) Notre Dame|
|Lamar||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|(21) Texas A&M|
|Northwestern St||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|BYU||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|Citadel||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|San Diego St||9/6/14 7:00 PM|
|(23) North Carolina|
|Virginia Tech||9/6/14 7:00 PM|
|(5) Ohio State|
|Memphis||9/6/14 9:00 PM|
|Colorado State||9/6/14 9:15 PM|
|Air Force||9/6/14 9:15 PM|
|Oregon State||9/6/14 9:30 PM|
|Texas Tech||9/6/14 10:00 PM|
|Red Bull New York||0||FINAL|