Giants must stop Peterson, Solve Freeman
If the New York Giants hope to get their first win of the season Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings they must take care of the known and the unknown.
The unknown is quarterback Josh Freeman, signed by the Vikings two weeks ago after being cut by Tampa Bay. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier confirmed Wednesday that he intends to start Freeman against the Giants.
The known is running back Adrian Peterson, and what the Giants know is he is not easy to stop.
If the Giants want film on Freeman, they will have to look at his games with Tampa Bay, where he was the No. 17 overall pick out of Kansas State in 2009 and was the starter from 2010 through three games of this year.
Before Frazier confirmed Freeman would start, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said his team was preparing for all of the Vikings quarterbacks -- including Chistian Ponder and Matt Cassel.
"We've seen Ponder, we've seen Cassel, we saw Freeman a year ago." Coughlin said. "We prepared two different styles based on Cassel. The Vikings are going to do what is best for them. Leslie is going to make that call and obviously we'll tweak a little bit, what we do, based on it. You need to stop the run when you play the Vikings and they do have outstanding skill players as well. They do an outstanding job in the physical part of the game, both sides of the ball. You're going to have to be ready for that, no matter what."
And as for Freeman ...
"I do know he's a talented young man and we played against him when he was with Tampa a year ago and he played well," Coughlin added.
It is likely that the Vikings will simplify their demands on Freeman by asking him to get help from that known factor -- Peterson.
Since entering the NFL in 2007, Peterson has led the league with 9,332 rush yards and 81 rushing touchdowns.
"I think since he came into the league, he's had a chip on his shoulder," said Giants defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins on what makes Peterson such a unique running back.
"I had a chance to play against him a lot (in Green Bay), and you really see every year, every game, every time he's out on the field, he's determined," Jenkins added.
Middle linebacker Jon Beason agreed with his teammate's assessment.
"I always say he would have been a great defensive player -- a linebacker or a hard-hitting safety," Beason said. "He plays the game like you're supposed to, and makes it harder to contain him."
Where Peterson has been particularly difficult is in yards gained after contact. According to the website ProFootballFocus.com, 366 of Peterson's 483 rushing yards have come after contact, which is an NFL-best through six weeks.
Peterson has also been effective coming out of the backfield, catching 14 of 17 passes thrown his way for 73 yards, 69 of which have come after the catch.
With such a diverse threat in the Vikings backfield, the Giants know that it's going to take a collaborative effort to limit the damage that Peterson is capable of inflicting.
"You can control him," said Jenkins. "I've played against him and had some success against him before and I've also seen what happens if you don't. We've got to go in there, especially up front, (and) do a good job in trying to keep him from getting back to the second level."
The question is how does a defense try to control Peterson, who has rushed for an average of 138.7 yards and who has 15 touchdowns in his past 15 games.
"It's a big challenge on defense, but it has to be all 11 guys to the ball," Beason said. "He's so strong, so fast, and elusive that if you're not playing high-tempo, swarming to the ball, and gang tackling, that makes him tougher to contain."