On Monday night, Saints coach Sean Payton said he was aware of no “heated exchange” with running back Adrian Peterson. By Tuesday, Payton still believes there was no such incident.
Per a league source, Payton acknowledges that there was an interaction, but that he interpreted Peterson’s words in a “positive way.”
After the game, Peterson explained himself with a since-deleted tweet: “Let’s be clear . . . I said we need to run the ball up their Donkey. Nothing more. I’m passionate but respect my coach at the same time.”
Watch the video. The one word that an untrained lipreader can discern from Peterson’s comments is “ass.” Let’s run the ball up their ass. That was the message.
So there’s no problem, for now. Really, there shouldn’t be. What did Peterson expect when he made the surprising decision to sign with the Saints? The Saints under Payton have always used multiple tailbacks, dating back to his first season as coach of the team — which also happened to be the rookie season of the guy who was supposedly the next Gale Sayers.
The Saints didn’t force the ball to Reggie Bush in 2006, and they won’t be forcing the ball to Adrian Peterson now. While Peterson’s extreme confidence may have caused him to think that once the Saints see what he can do they’ll change their approach, that’s always been the approach.
In May, Payton said Peterson’s role will be “very clear and defined.” Surely it was. And surely the clear and defined role that he’ll be playing is the role he played on Monday night.
Six carries for Peterson, six carries for Mark Ingram, seven carries for Alvin Kamara. Each would have had more if the Saints either would have scored touchdowns instead of field goals in the first half or would have stopped the Vikings from scoring a couple of touchdowns in the second quarter. By the time the game was slipping away, it was time to primarily pass the ball.
However it goes from here, Peterson has no basis to complain about no longer being the workhorse because that’s the role he signed up for. And while what he did last night may have flowed in part from his desire to have more of a chance to stick it to his old team, it was a far cry of the true heated exchanges we’ve seen between coach and player over the years.