Little less than a year ago, Adrian Peterson’s 2011 season abruptly ended when he tore his ACL and MCL, which put his football career into questions. Doubters said there was no way AP could return to his pre-injury form.
Heading into the 2012 season, Peterson had no doubt those doubters would be proved wrong. Ten games into the season, Peterson leads the league with 1,128 rushing yards. He is tied for second place with seven touchdowns. In the past four games alone, he has rushed for 153, 123, 182 and 171 yards. Pretty sure it’s safe to say Adrian Peterson is back to his old self. However, Peterson says not so fast.
“I still can get stronger. I’m still not there, man. I’m pressing to get there,” Peterson said, when asked for seemingly the hundredth time whether he’s 100 percent healthy. “I’m going to come back stronger and better after the bye.”
Peterson’s unexpectedly quick and extremely effective start has brought about a lot of MVP type, in addition to Comeback Player of the Year. In both of those categories, he is mentioned with the likes of Peyton Manning. There is even talk about 2012 being Adrian Peterson’s best season to date.
Below are what the “experts” are saying across the World Wide Web:
If I had told you on New Year’s Day that 2012 would be the best year of Adrian Peterson’s career, you would have said I was nuts. Well, I may be nuts, but Adrian Peterson is also the best running back in the NFL, and playing better this season than he ever has before.
But if the Vikings go through that gauntlet and end up in the playoffs, and if Peterson keeps up his current pace, it would represent by far the best season of his career. And it would make Peterson more than just the best running back in football. It would make him a strong candidate for the NFL’s MVP.
With 1,128 yards — the most in his career after 10 games — how about Peterson for MVP? He doesn’t play quarterback, but his production so soon after major knee surgery is incredible. His production against consistent eight- and nine-man fronts is almost unbelievable.
Adrian Peterson is the best football player in the world.
He may not be the most important, not in a sport ruled by quarterbacks.
If the measures of a complete football player are strength, speed, quickness, toughness, agility, resilience, competitiveness and production, Peterson is at the moment unmatched.
What Peyton Manning has done after neck surgery is impressive, but Peterson should be the Comeback Player of the Year. In fact, Peterson should get strong consideration for MVP if he leads the Vikings to the playoffs.
Watching Peterson run is as breathtaking as ever. He breaks tackles with explosive power. He makes violent cuts that leave defenders grasping at air.
However, Peterson’s comeback season is extraordinary. At a position where losing even half a step can end a career, Peterson hasn’t lost anything. He was already a marvelous running back. Now Peterson is a medical marvel as well.
What Peterson is doing would be eye-opening if he had entered the season at 100%. The fact he’s doing with a surgically repaired knee is nothing short of remarkable.
Some might say that Peterson should not quality as a comeback candidate because he missed only the regular-season finale last season after injuring his knee. But that’s what makes his return even more remarkable and might make his candidacy stronger.
The NFL’s best running back, as crazy as it may sound, could be even better now than he was before his left knee collapsed in Washington last season. He’s setting up his blocks more patiently, trusts the play design more implicitly and appears to have regained his speed and agility faster than most running backs who are coming off a torn ligament.
Seeing No. 28 in purple rack up yards and touchdowns has done wonders for the team’s outlook as well, and it’s no surprise that the Vikings are starting their “Adrian For MVP” campaign.
Adrian Peterson is averaging 112.8 yards rushing per game and a career-high 5.8 yards per carry. In NFL history, only three running backs have ever finished a season at those thresholds: Barry Sanders (1997), O.J. Simpson (1973) and Jim Brown (1958, 1963). Sanders, Simpson and Brown in 1958 were named AP NFL MVP.
The fact that Peterson is flirting with history less than a year after tearing his ACL and MCL should be enough to make him the top comeback story this season, but there are a few more statistical tidbits that only help support that position.
Peterson has averaged 2.8 yards per rush AFTER first contact. It’s his highest rate over the last four seasons, and the second-best rate in the NFL this season (C.J. Spiller, 3.0).
Peterson has needed the power boost because he has faced eight or more defenders in the box on a league-high 57 rushes this season – and even that hasn’t slowed him down. Peterson is averaging a league-best 6.3 yards per rush against such defensive fronts.
You can’t discount his speed, either. Peterson has gained 20-plus yards on 13 runs this season, almost twice as many as the next highest rushers (LeSean McCoy and Spiller, 7). The most 20-yard runs Peterson has had in a season was 20 in 2008.
No matter how the final six games of the season go, it’s nice to know Adrian Peterson is back to to what he was before the surgery with the ability to be even better. With a young team and a veteran in Adrian Peterson in the backfield, the Vikings future outlook look pretty bright, especially after they got off to an unexpected 6-4 start.
If there is one thing to keep an eye on for the rest of the season, it’s be Adrian Peterson doing the unthinkable each and every Sunday.