Heading into the 2017 season of the National Football league, the Cardinals appeared to have an even chance of making the playoffs. And they were bent on doing so, too; among other considerations, they aimed to give quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, already in the twilight of distinguished careers, fitting send-offs. As soon as primary running back David Johnson suffered an injury in their campaign opener, however, their objective became much tougher. And, five games in, they sought to improve their plight, and rightly so; they could have gone winless had they not managed to eke out overtime victories against the supposedly overmatched Colts and Niners.
Enter Adrian Peterson, he of the sterling resume and chip-on-shoulder aspirations to prove to all and sundry that he still has the mojo to make a difference at 32 and fresh off a knee injury. He flopped with the Saints, limited to 81 yards off 27 carries through four matches while playing behind veteran Mark Ingram and rookie standout Alvin Kamara. Still, he remained confident of his skills, and pined for a larger role given “the type of player that I am, knowing that I have so much left in the tank.” With the Cardinals, he gets his wish. And because he cost just a conditional sixth-round pick next year, he’s a gamble that he insists will reap significant dividends.
Needless to say, the Cardinals are crossing their fingers Peterson will live up to promise. He hasn’t had a truly productive year since 2015, and, for all his reputation, he doesn’t figure to be a miracle worker able to address glaring offensive-line woes from the get-go. If the red and black have been worst in the league in rushing yards per game and per carry, it isn’t just because of the backfield; as coach Bruce Arians has repeatedly admitted, much of the blame likewise lies in the blocking, which is so poor as to allow the most number of sacks, hits, hurries, and pressures thus far in the season.
Against this backdrop, the Cardinals are, perhaps, looking to Peterson on a wing and a prayer. That said, they can at least say they tried, and they owe as much to Palmer and, especially, Fitzgerald. And should success elude them, they will have lost only a late pick, not to mention justified a transition to Rebuild Mode. Desperate times, desperate measures.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is the Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Basic Energy Corp.