By Danny O’Neil
“Person of Interest” is a weekly feature in which we put the microscope on one player from the Seahawks’ upcoming opponent. This week, it’s Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson.
• Position: Running man, reigning MVP
• Height: 6-1
• Weight: 218
• Age: 28
• Experience: Seventh season
Adrian Peterson, the league’s reigning MVP, rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns against Seattle last year. (AP)
Only one NFL player has ever rushed for more than the 2,097 yards Peterson gained on the ground a year ago, and no one has rushed for more yards over the past six seasons than Peterson.
“Adrian has that top-end, breakaway speed, but he can still make people miss,” said Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who coached Peterson for four seasons in Minnesota.
“He’s a competitor as well as a runner. He runs really hard, and when he comes out the back end, he can be gone.”
And while Peterson currently ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing yards, he leads the league with nine rushing touchdowns. He gained 182 yards against Seattle last November, the most the Seahawks had allowed since Frank Gore gained 207 yards in September 2009.
Peterson is the only player in the past three years to rush for two touchdowns against Seattle in a single game.
Is Seattle’s run defense repaired? It certainly looked that way in Atlanta when the Seahawks held the Falcons to 64 yards on the ground. That was a marked improvement from the previous two weeks when Seattle gave up 200 yards rushing to the Rams and then the Bucs. Then again, the Falcons had the league’s worst rushing offense entering the game.
Now comes Peterson.
What’s the recipe to stopping him?
“Gang tackle,” free safety Earl Thomas said. “That’s the best advice I can give you. We’ve gotta’ be piranhas like we were last week and we were at the beginning of the season. When you’ve got a back that’s so explosive that puts so much pressure on everybody and their gap responsibilities, you’ve got to be on your stuff.
“We’ve got to have a tackling plan. This is one of the best backs we’re going to face all year, and as a competitor, you always want to face the best.”