Towards the end of the 2011 NFL season, Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson suffered a torn ACL. Many coaches and fans were afraid that Peterson would never return to form following his injury.
To the surprise of many, Peterson returned in Week 1 of the 2012 season, posting 84 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He would finish the season with 2,097 rushing yards, eight yards shy of the single-season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson. Today, many Vikings fans believe Peterson still maintains the ability to challenge the single-season rushing record again. While he still may have the ability, the likelihood of this actually happening is not very likely.
During the 2014 offseason, management hired offensive genius Norv Turner as the Vikings’ offensive coordinator. While this decision was likely in the best interest of the team in terms of winning, it should hinder Peterson’s ability to rush for an uncanny number of yards.
Upon arrival, Turner made it clear that he would like to see Peterson catch 40-50 passes out of the backfield during the 2014 season. Turner believes that this strategy will allow Peterson more opportunities in the open field. While Turner is likely correct in his thinking, this offensive attack style will also cut Peterson’s rushing attempts.
Peterson should still receive his fair share of rushing attempts throughout the season, but more than likely not anywhere close to the 348 he received during the 2012 season. As a result, the chance that Peterson rushes for anywhere close to 2,000 yards again, let alone 2,105, is extremely low.
However, Turner’s handling of Peterson may end up prolonging his career. At the age of 29, Peterson is entering what is considered to be the backend of most running back’s careers. While catching the ball out of the backfield will surely cut his rushing totals, Peterson will also receive less contact.
The past has shown that counting Peterson out of any situation is unwise. However, it certainly appears that Dickerson’s single-season rushing mark should remain safe from Peterson. On the other hand, Emmitt Smith’s career rushing record is a completely different story.