Sunday, March 14, 2010
Tomlinson knew limitations of offer
By Kevin Seifert
My reaction to Minnesota's swing-and-miss with running back LaDainian Tomlinson is the same as when Chester Taylor jumped to Chicago. The Vikings' backup running back job is an important but ultimately secondary role as long as starter Adrian Peterson plays a full season, and it should be viewed accordingly.
I couldn't get worked up about Taylor's departure, and I really don't consider it a crisis now that Tomlinson has agreed to terms with the New York Jets. Over the past two seasons, Taylor touched the ball 284 times via rushing or pass plays. That averages out to 8.88 touches per game, or about 14 percent of the Vikings' offensive plays over that span. That's not a big enough number to lose sleep over, in my opinion.
Peterson is the focus of the Vikings' running game, and you're kidding yourself if you think they will pull back on his carries because of continuing fumble problems. Tomlinson no doubt had several reasons for signing with the Jets, but I'm sure this undeniable fact was one of them: He's going to be more involved in the Jets offense (current starter: Shonn Greene) than he would have been in the Vikings'.
From Minnesota's perspective, it made sense to pursue a future Hall of Famer. If he wanted to gear down his career to that extent, bully for the Vikings. But it's not surprising he chose the other option.
Discussion will naturally turn to veteran Brian Westbrook, who played under Vikings coach Brad Childress when Childress was Philadelphia's offensive coordinator. Childress has always had great respect for Westbrook, but it's only fair to note the Vikings have yet to show interest. Westbrook's history of concussions makes him a risk for any team he might sign with.
Without Taylor or Tomlinson, the Vikings wouldn't have an experienced back to take over if Peterson is sidelined for an extended period of time. But for now, it will be interesting to see if the Vikings give second-year player Albert Young at least an offseason look at the role.
Childress talked up Young during a radio interview last week. It's also possible to find immediate running back help in the draft.
The Vikings would have done well to sign Tomlinson, but I don't think his decision qualifies as a blow. It just adds a little pressure on their depth chart and draft preparations.