It's inexplicable, it really is. The NFL may be a passing league but one of the few time-tested and approved uses for the running game is to preserve leads, big leads especially. The clock becomes your friend and your opponent's enemy. And if the clock in your friend, your high-motor bulldozer running back is your best friend.
And yet the Vikings have pissed away halftime leads of 10, 17 and 20 in their first three games. They have scored a grand total of six points in the second half. And "All Day" Adrian Peterson has been subjugated to half-day status, a part-timer whose timecard is punched out when the second half begins.
In those three losses, Peterson has received 22 total second-half carries, compared to 36 first-half carries. Asked directly, he says "he can't explain it."
Well, we can. I mean, there must be some sort of rational explanation, right? Here are our best guesses.
Option 1: Zygi Wilf has turned evil, and this is all going according to plan.
The Vikings owner is getting old, and the Minnesota cold is cracking his bones. He has visions of sailing his Viking ship to Los Angeles, and basking in the glory of a new 1.2 billion dollar home, with Andrew Luck as his new franchise quarterback. And get this - there's no roof! You can breathe the air, feel the sunshine on your face in there! Who knew people could still play football in those conditions?
If Wilf is Montgomery Burns in this metaphor, Vikings GM Rick Spielman is his Waylon Smithers, eager to endorse any plan no matter how inane or self-destructive. Leslie Frazier and his coaching staff are nothing more than anonymous Lennys and Carls to be terrorized and ignored.
But Peterson and his capability to win games by himself is the one unknown quantity that must be dealt with. No matter what else Frazier does with this team, he can't let Peterson get the ball in the end. With the bums on this roster, the rest will pretty much take care of itself.
Option 2: Adrian Peterson has gone Union.
When the NFL Players Association decertified, Peterson -- a strong union man from a strong union family growing up deep in blue country -- felt abandoned and alone. So he surreptitiously joined the Laborers Union Local 563.
Of course the Laborers were ecstatic. Union ranks have been steadily depleting as the economy tanks and infrastructure jobs dry up. There are no more bridges to nowhere being built, so to have a celebrity of this magnitude could be the thing to turn their fate around. But that doesn't mean that they'll compromise their principles.
Peterson, like any Union man, has to be given regular breaks after 90 minutes of real-clock work time. The Vikings are chafing under these new work rules, but Peterson is all too happy to stick to his guns. Solidarity is power, after all.
Option 3: The Campbells Soup Lobby is too strong in Minnesota.
Minnesota is cold. All the time. Even in their mild summers, you can pretty much find soup being served everywhere. And not that gazpacho crap, we're talking piping hot soup with plenty of meat in it. Accordingly, there is no stronger brand in Minnesota than Campbells.
And who's the Campbells Soup man? Chunky man Donovan McNabb.
To appease this powerful Minnesota lobby, McNabb has been given the reins at the end of games, in hopes of generating some good pub and revitalizing his now busted brand. Note to Campbells - you're backing the wrong horse.
If these explanations seem implausible, what's left to consider? Perhaps the Vikings coaches just aren't very good at their jobs, and their players not very good at football.
Nah, couldn't be that simple, could it?