Chester Taylor with the Vikings in 2009
Coming into the season the Minnesota Vikings seemed to be poised to make another run towards the Super Bowl after last year's effort ended in failure. However, things haven't gone the way the team had hoped. Many different theories have been making their rounds, which range from injuries to key players like Sidney Rice or Cedric Griffin and the fact that Old Man Brett Favre seems to have aged a decade in the past year. The one theory that has gotten next to no lip service in the media is the off-season loss of Chester Taylor.
In the past many wanted to trade Taylor for a top of the line wide receiver or quarterback. However, those people missed out on what an important part of the offense Taylor was. Not only was he the best back on the team as a receiver out of the back field, but he was also the best blocker at that position on the team. This made him one of the best third down backs in the league because of his versatility and earned him a valued spot on the squad. In addition to these roles he also played one more, which could of been his most important role of all.
With a back like Taylor, who had 1,200 yards the year before Adrian Peterson was drafted, the Vikings were able to bring in a capable back at key times to give Peterson rest. The key word in that last sentence was capable, because in the three years since Peterson was drafted Taylor average close to four yards per carry and had over 40 catches the past two years. With this production off the bench the Vikings could use Taylor in place of Peterson and not lose too much on the field.
This is key because anyone whose watched Adrian Peterson play knows that he gets a large chunk of his yards in the second half when he has worn teams down. With Taylor giving Peterson time to get a little rest, Peterson was able to come in even fresher than he would have and dominated defenses even more. In fact, I once did a check of the game logs and in the majority of the games the Vikings won since 2007 Taylor got at least 10 touches and in most of the games they lost he got less than 10 touches.
Now obviously the loss of Chester Taylor isn't the only factor in slow start to the season, but his loss shouldn't be overlooked because he meant more than people think to this team. Hopefully, someone like Toby Gerhart can step up into Taylor's role. Until that is proven we could be in for a very long season as Peterson wears down without his old trusty sidekick.