Purple Gerhart-less — What (I'd Bet) This Means For Toby and the Vikings
Posted by Brent Lee on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 12:00 AM By Brent Lee / March 13, 2014 Comment
Reports say it is official: Toby Gerhart is a Jacksonville Jaguar. The 2010 Stanford graduate signed a 3-year deal worth $10.5 million, including $4.5 million in guaranteed money, ending his tenure with the Vikings. As a Viking, Gerhart served (very) limited duty behind every Minnesotan's favorite All-Universe running back Adrian Peterson. Toby was an effective overall runner, averaging 4.7 yards per carry in his four years in purple, including averaging 7.9 yards per rush in 2013. Despite some memorable broken tackles and flashes of fleet-footedness, the most salient knock on Gerhart might be his tendency to fumble — he coughed up the pigskin seven times in only 276 carries as a Viking. That's (waaay) too often in a league where losing the turnover battle is so closely correlated with losing ballgames, and it could haunt Toby in Jacksonville if he doesn't address the issue. What do I think of the deal? (Why thank you for asking...) I don't like it — not for the Vikings. Gerhardt has fumbling issues, but he also has a solid upside and a useful skill set. He's a physical runner with good instincts, and he was a great insurance policy to an aging, All-Pro AP. On the Jaguars side, it seems all but certain that Gerhart will be the featured back for Jacksonville in 2014, as the Jags will likely part ways with their once-stellar, now beleaguered running back Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jaguars needed a new #1 running back and they got one — one who is studious and learned the running back position studying behind one of the greatest backs the NFL has ever seen. My prediction? (Wow. I really appreciate your interest!) projected starting back. He'll likely add 300+ in receiving yards and, unless fumbles continue to be an issue, I believe Toby will gain some acclaim in his first season donning the second ugliest jersey in pro sports. As far as Peterson, I won't be so morbid as to predict an injury, but I see no reason to believe the 2014 AP will be anything like the 2,100 yard, 2012 MVP-version of his (Awesome) past self. Like the hapless Jags, the Vikes could be pretty lousy next year, too — and I'm not confident the offensive line or quarterback situation in Minnesota lend well to Peterson's production even if he stays healthy all next season -- e.g. you can't run through holes that don't exist because eight and nine man defensive fronts don't believe Cassel/Ponder/Freeman/Vick? can beat them in the passing game. In fact, I'll be a bit bolder in my prediction: Toby Gerhart will gain more yards from scrimmage than Adrian Peterson in 2014. Now, dear reader, what do you think? ** Author's Note: I think our distinguished Editor, who is an avid Peterson fan, will likely (i.e. certainly) disagree with me avidly. Because of this, I came up with a friendly wager for he and I in regard to our anticipated difference of opinion. You know, put our opinions — and egos — out on the line a tad. What do you you think, Matthew? I'll buy you an AP jersey and write an apology to you and all Vikings' fans if I'm wrong? And, if I'm right, you have to die your hair Viking purple?