Peterson: Freakish Athlete Became Expendable


Posted by: Shaun Dolence

I love Julian Peterson. He is a freakish athlete, has muscles on top of muscles, and has been fun to watch since he came to Seattle. However, until today, Shaun the homer has been unable to criticize his play; more specifically, his subpar showing last year. Yeah, he made the Pro Bowl last season – as a replacement – but we all know that is driven by fan votes and name recognition.

Julian Peterson became expendable for two primary reasons: his growing salary and inflated cap number, and his age. Peterson will turn 31 this summer, and appears to be entering the downside of his career.

Last season, Peterson was a part of a defense that ranked 30th in the league in total yards allowed, and 25th in the league in points allowed per game. Peterson’s play was noticeably down, and he was a part (although small) of the problem.

Arm tackles won’t get the job done.

If you go back and watch the games, you’ll notice that Peterson is consistently out of position. This was especially evident on third down plays, where Peterson appeared lost and unable to effectively cover opponents.

His tackling last season was atrocious. Too often he tried to arm tackle offensive players, who easily broke away and gained a few extra yards. There were many times where Peterson was in position to make a huge defensive play, but missed the tackle and opportunity to help his team.

Peterson was apart of the rotation on the defensive line, often sliding down to defensive end in passing situations. This allowed Seattle to use his pass rushing ability in nickel and dime packages. Effective in the past, but last season Peterson was often beat by opposing linemen and did not possess adequate strength at the point of attack. Often, he tried to use pure speed to attack, only to abandon his gap assignments and barely miss the quarterback. How many times did we watch Peterson shoot outside with his speed, only to have the offensive player run through the gaping hole and past the defensive line?

With all of that being said, Peterson has been a Pro Bowler every year he has been in Seattle. And although his sack totals were down last season – only 5, compared with 9.5 and 10 the previous two years – he did record 86 total tackles, second only to Lofa Tatupu.

His departure will only add to Seattle’s inability to generate a consistent pass rush. Hopefully, with the additions to the defensive line and a healthy Patrick Kerney, they can return to their old form. It is probable that Leroy Hill takes Peterson’s spot on the weak side and the Seahawks utilize his pass rushing ability (7.5 sacks in 2005) more often.

Bottom line, Peterson has been a great linebacker for Seattle. However, after a subpar showing last season, the aging player became expendable. His salary is becoming too large for Seattle to absorb, especially given his recent performance on the field. Had Peterson been willing to restructure, then he finds a spot on this team; he didn’t, and Ruskell masterfully found a trading partner instead of cutting Peterson without compensation.