Stats & Info: Ben Tate

Impact of Peterson's injury on power, speed

May, 9, 2012

Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesAdrian Peterson continues to rehab from a knee injury he suffered in Week 16 against the Redskins.
The Minnesota stadium debate isn’t the only issue Vikings fans are monitoring closely this offseason.

Adrian Peterson is working to come back from a gruesome knee injury suffered late last season. Peterson worked out in front of the media on Wednesday, 137 days after tearing multiple ligaments in his left knee.

Peterson is the face of the Vikings franchise, and one of the most productive tailbacks in league history through his first five seasons.

Since his rookie year in 2007, Peterson leads the NFL with 6,752 rushing yards and 64 rushing touchdowns. He has joined LaDainian Tomlinson and Pro Football Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Eric Dickerson as the only players to ever amass 6,000 rushing yards and 60 rushing TD in their first five seasons.

Even if Peterson is able to return to the field early in 2012, there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to run with the same strength and speed as in the past.

Running behind a porous offensive line in 2011, Peterson did some of his best work after getting hit, averaging 2.5 yards per rush after contact. Among the 31 running backs who carried the ball at least 150 times last season, only Ben Tate (2.9) averaged more yards per carry after contact than Peterson.

Peterson may not have the same type of wheels as when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds at the 2007 NFL Scouting Combine. Still, he has the speed to break the long run. Over the last three seasons, only Chris Johnson (34) and Michael Turner (21) have more rushes of at least 25 yards than Peterson’s 20.

His knee injury stands as an early-season obstacle, Peterson stands to benefit as much as anyone from Minnesota’s selection of USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil with the fourth overall pick in last month’s draft. While Kalil’s pass protection is considered to be ahead of his run blocking, he’s sure to be an upgrade over the incumbent starter at left tackle, Charlie Johnson.

With Johnson starting all 16 games at left tackle in 2011, Peterson averaged just 3.8 yards per rush on his 30 carries around left tackle. Of the 27 players who rushed around left tackle at least 20 times last season, only three registered fewer yards per carry than Peterson.

In 2010, when Bryant McKinnie anchored the left side of the Vikings line, Peterson averaged 6.6 yards per rush on carries around left tackle, fifth most among NFL tailbacks.

AP PhotoRookie quarterbacks T.J. Yates (left) and Andy Dalton (right) meet in the Wild Card Playoffs on Saturday.
The NFL Playoffs kick off Saturday at 4:30 Eastern with the Cincinnati Bengals traveling to Reliant Stadium to take on the Houston Texans.

The two teams met in Cincinnati in Week 14, when the Texans scored the final 10 points and won on a six-yard Kevin Walter touchdown with two seconds left that clinched the AFC South title. Houston has won the last three meetings between the teams.

In the 10th season for the franchise, this is the first playoff game in Texans history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the nine seasons before appearing in the playoffs is the fourth-most for any NFL franchise to debut since 1960. Ironically, the three teams to wait longer are all in the playoffs this season as well.

The Bengals are in the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons, but haven’t won a postseason game since the 1990 Wild Card Playoffs and are 0-4 all-time in road playoff games. They’ve lost three straight playoff games, and have the longest active streak without a playoff win in the NFL. Cincinnati’s last win was against another franchise from Houston – a 41-14 win over the Oilers on Jan. 6, 1991.

The greatest season ever for rookie quarterbacks continues. Rookie quarterbacks combined to win 23 games during the regular season, the most of any season in the Super Bowl era. Saturday’s matchup will be the first playoff game in NFL history with each team starting a rookie quarterback. The winner will be the third rookie starting quarterback to win a playoff game in the last four seasons and the fifth in the Super Bowl era.

Andy Dalton became the third rookie in league history with 3,000 passing yards and 20 passing touchdowns. Cam Newton and Peyton Manning also passed both thresholds, but Dalton is the first to do so and lead his team to the playoffs.

Unfortunately for the Bengals, the Texans should be able to exploit one of Dalton’s weaknesses. Dalton had 79 passes batted or defended this season, most in the NFL. The Texans’ defense led the league with 94 passes batted or defended, including eight against Dalton in their regular-season meeting.

The Texans will look to their running game to take the pressure off T.J. Yates. Arian Foster tied for the league lead with seven 100-yard rushing games this season despite missing three games. Over the last two seasons, he leads the NFL in rushing yards per game and rushing touchdowns.

Ben Tate provides a complement for Foster in the Texans’ running game. Foster was fifth in the NFL this season with 725 rushing yards prior to contact. Among players with at least 150 rushes, Tate led the league with 2.9 yards per rush after contact. Despite 103 fewer rush attempts, Tate had nine more yards after contact than Foster.

Of the two, Tate could have more success against the Bengals defense. Cincinnati allowed 2.0 yards per rush before contact this season, the third-lowest total in the league. However, the Bengals allowed 1.9 yards after contact per rush, seventh-worst in the NFL. The Texans led the league with 1,133 yards after contact this season.
Matt Schaub
Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is expected to miss the rest of the season with a Lisfranc injury. At 7-3, the Texans are above .500 after 10 games for the first time in franchise history.

Schaub’s foot is just the latest injury for the Texans. Running back Arian Foster missed two of the team’s first three games, wide receiver Andre Johnson has missed the last six games with an injured hamstring and linebacker Mario Williams is out for the season.

Schaub has started 46 straight games for the Texans, and before missing the end of Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was one of seven quarterbacks to take every snap for his team this season.

Schaub is the Texans’ all-time leader in passing touchdowns, passing yards, attempts and completions. In 2009, he led the NFL with 4,770 passing yards. While he might not be a household name nationally, he is ranked fifth in Total QBR since the 2008 season.

He was at his best throwing the ball downfield, especially to injured All-Pro Johnson. Since the start of the 2008 season, Schaub led the NFL with a 56.1 completion percentage on throws 15+ yards downfield, and even with Johnson missing the last six weeks the duo lead the NFL with 2,215 yards on such throws.

Matt Leinart
Matt Leinart will take over as starting quarterback. Before finishing the Texans win in Tampa, Leinart hadn’t taken a snap since the end of the 2009 season.

Leinart is 7-10 as a starter in the NFL, with 11 of those starts coming in 2006 and just one since Week 5 of the 2007 season. In 30 career games, he has completed 57.1 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

He inherits an enviable position in Houston. The Texans, who have the third-ranked rushing offense in the NFL, have run the football 67 more times than any other team in the league. The Jacksonville Jaguars are the only other team to call designed runs on more than half their snaps.

The running game will be tested without Schaub under center. The Texans could face more loaded boxes, but Foster and Ben Tate have proven capable at getting extra yards after contact. Houston leads the league in rush yards after contact this season.