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  • The Indestructible Adrian Peterson



    Last December 24, during an otherwise meaningless game in Washington D.C., the best RB in the NFL was writhing on the turf, the latest to fall victim to the dreaded ACL tear. As the images were replayed on your TV set, briefly interrupting the game you were actually watching, many football fans were left to wonder if Adrian Peterson would ever be able to fully recover from that crushing hit.

    Despite the fact that this injury has ended some elite careers, and at the very least put a temporary hold on many other HOF-level careers, it was noted many times over the 8 months prior to the start of this NFL season that Adrian Peterson was a different cat. But no matter how different he wanted us to believe he was, history indicated that no one fully regains their previous form that quickly, and that trying to do so can only result in more harm than good. Peterson pressed on with his rehab, and despite sitting out the preseason, was ready for opening day. No one knew exactly what to expect.

    On opening day, Peterson looked fantastic, averaging nearly 5 yards per carry, and scoring 2 TDs in a win over Jacksonville, leading to immediate talk of his incredible recovery. Following a poor performance in week 2, Peterson was able to shoulder the load over the next 2 games, grinding out over 20 carries and combining for nearly 200 yards, in upset victories over the 49ers and Lions.

    Through 6 games, Peterson was averaging a very respectable 83 yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry. Those numbers were a step below his career averages of 97 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry, but coming off an ACL, pretty darned impressive. But Peterson also hadn’t scored a TD since week 1, and talk of his return had started to fade into the background as the return-to-form of Peyton Manning took center stage.

    However, since week 7, what we’ve seen is one of the greatest outbursts by a running back in the history of the game. While passing games around the league continue to thrive, Adrian Peterson has performed like the ultimate throwback, single-handedly keeping Minnesota in the playoff hunt on the strength of his legs. Peterson has 1101 yards (a 157 yard per game average) and 8 TDs during that 7 game stretch, averaging an incredible 7.24 yards per rush.

    Peterson has done all of this in spite of the fact that he’s had zero help from his passing game. During that same stretch, Christian Ponder has only 962 yards passing (a 137 yard per game average), with 6 TDs and 8 INTs. And while Adrian Peterson has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the past 7, Ponder has failed to produce even 100 yards through the air on 3 separate occasions. And it’s not like this is happening against defensive slouches. 4 of Peterson’s performances have come against top 12 defenses, including 2 games against Chicago, and 1 game against Tampa, who is the stingiest team in the league against the run.

    Peterson has already put up the 2nd best season of his career, and his 1600 yards is already the 50th greatest season by an RB in NFL history, with 3 games still remaining to improve upon that total. He should easily surpass his previous career high of 1760 yards, and continuing his 157 yard pace through the final 3 games would give him 2074 yards, the 2nd greatest total of all time, and only 30 yards short of Eric Dickerson’s all-time record.

    On Saturday, ESPN featured a documentary on the career of Bo Jackson, who is the single-greatest “what if” athlete of all time. Less than 1 year ago, we wondered if Adrian Peterson would eventually join that same “what if” list. Instead, Peterson has rebounded against all odds to put up arguably the single most impressive rushing season in NFL history. In the process, he's likely cemented his eventual enshrinement in Canton.

    Comments 21 Comments
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      He ran against 9 man boxes on Sunday. It didn't matterl He killed us with the first play of the game.

      I ahte that watching greatness felt so awful for me as a Bears fan. What he's doing is ridonkulous.
    1. Andy Freeland's Avatar
      The best line in our meetings last week came from Tramon Williams who rehabbed with Peterson in the offseason. "I told our guys, I don't know what he's made of, but he heals like Wolverine".
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Andy, when you took Peterson as your mandated current player selection in our all-time NFL draft a few summers ago, I thought at the time it was a bit of a stretch. While I stand by my thoughts at that time, that selection would certainly be anything but a stretch right now.

      He has 43 carries of 10+ yards this year, and averages 23.8 yards per carry on those 43 runs. I thought ACL surgery was supposed to sap someone of their explosiveness.
    1. Andy Freeland's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      Andy, when you took Peterson as your mandated current player selection in our all-time NFL draft a few summers ago, I thought at the time it was a bit of a stretch. While I stand by my thoughts at that time, that selection would certainly be anything but a stretch right now.
      I forgot about that. Clearly I'm even smarter than I think I am (just kidding, no one could possibly be as smart as I think I is).

      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      He has 43 carries of 10+ yards this year, and averages 23.8 yards per carry on those 43 runs. I thought ACL surgery was supposed to sap someone of their explosiveness.
      I wonder if there's a medical explanation, a new break-through in either the surgery or rehab that cuts recovery time. The rule of thumb was always a year and a half until someone is back to full strength but Peterson looks better than he has in years.
    1. edave's Avatar
      It does seem as if they installed a new gear while he was in for maintenance.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Andy Freeland View Post

      I wonder if there's a medical explanation, a new break-through in either the surgery or rehab that cuts recovery time. The rule of thumb was always a year and a half until someone is back to full strength but Peterson looks better than he has in years.

      That's an interesting thought that if true, would slightly irritate me. Why didn't Mendenhall also receive this special treatment? Of course, I guess it's not a magic formula. You probably had to be good prior to the injury.

      I suppose Jamaal Charles could have, but he also had a 3 month head start on his recovery.

      From what I've read, Peterson had the same procedure as most everyone else, using a graft from the patellar tendon to replace the ACL, as opposed to a graft from a cadaver. There was an interesting article in the USA Today last week about his recovery.

      And he's not just performing better than he has in years, he's officially performing better than he ever has before. Peterson has treated this recovery almost like some pitchers are now treating Tommy John. He's using it to come back better than ever.
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      That's an interesting thought that if true, would slightly irritate me. Why didn't Mendenhall also receive this special treatment? Of course, I guess it's not a magic formula. You probably had to be good prior to the injury.

      I suppose Jamaal Charles could have, but he also had a 3 month head start on his recovery.

      From what I've read, Peterson had the same procedure as most everyone else, using a graft from the patellar tendon to replace the ACL, as opposed to a graft from a cadaver. There was an interesting article in the USA Today last week about his recovery.

      And he's not just performing better than he has in years, he's officially performing better than he ever has before. Peterson has treated this recovery almost like some pitchers are now treating Tommy John. He's using it to come back better than ever.
      Trumpet, they could have done the same exact procedure on Mendy that AD got, even if it was a "magical upgrade" to his knee. The results would have been quite different. Mendenhall doesn't have the mental fortitude, acuity, or drive that Peterson does. Not even close. Mendenhall needs an upgrade between the ears, especially given the stunt he pulled Sunday that got him suspended for the week.

      Peterson has superhumanly willed himself back to being better than before. He's ignored anything doubters have said, and PROVEN on the field that putting "mind over matter", applying mental fortitude, and training hard to rehab and get back that it's possible. Mendenhall has PROVEN he's a twit, with the psyche of a child, that he can't overcome being benched for poor performance (mostly a large case of fumblitis) and acting like a professional.

      Peterson has shown up and worked hard everyday this season, Mendy not so much. All culminating this past week when Mendy went awol and didn't bother even coming to the game.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by mikesteelnation1 View Post
      Peterson has shown up and worked hard everyday this season, Mendy not so much. All culminating this past week when Mendy went awol and didn't bother even coming to the game.
      Petersen never wore a brace. That means besides been superhuman, he has the mental toughness to trust something that his own body is yelling shouldn't be trusted. That is the hidden part about knee injury recoveries. They never feel right, and it's very easy to keep the pressure off. That leads to aggravating other body parts by the way (bad back, bad ankles because of incorrect postures). That is the most remarkable thing about this.

      When he said he felt the scar tissue tearing, and that's when he decided to go even harder, that tells you something.
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by iwatt View Post
      Petersen never wore a brace. That means besides been superhuman, he has the mental toughness to trust something that his own body is yelling shouldn't be trusted. That is the hidden part about knee injury recoveries. They never feel right, and it's very easy to keep the pressure off. That leads to aggravating other body parts by the way (bad back, bad ankles because of incorrect postures). That is the most remarkable thing about this.

      When he said he felt the scar tissue tearing, and that's when he decided to go even harder, that tells you something.
      Exactly!! We all thought one thing after AD went through the combine process, what a freak of nature physical specimen this guy is. Then you hear about him carrying around an 8lb football to cure his fumblitis during training camp a few years back. Now he jumps right in the breach and goes full out, trusting his body 100%. Quite a remarkable guy, one worthy of being called a role model. I respect what pm has done, but to me hands DOWN AD is the comeback poy. The man has earned his nickname many times over...
    1. Colts01's Avatar
      I would give the nod to AP.I love Peyton more then most.But I've seen the 13-3 regular season over and over,only to fall to New England,Pittsburgh, and the Jesters at home in the playoffs.Peyton doesn't need another MVP.He needs to beat the Pats in New England.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Colts01 View Post
      I would give the nod to AP.I love Peyton more then most.
      For coming back after missing one game? Players miss more than that and come back in the same season. Are they eligible for the comeback award?
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      For coming back after missing one game? Players miss more than that and come back in the same season. Are they eligible for the comeback award?
      Please stop wax. The depths of your man crush have no bottom. We all get that. However, we mostly all believe Peterson to be the better choice. The fact Peterson missed just one game is EXACTLY why we all believe that, given his injury. When a self professed colts fan says its Peterson, that's reason for pause, reflection, and cooler heads prevailing. Tells me all I need to know.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by iwatt View Post
      Petersen never wore a brace. That means besides been superhuman, he has the mental toughness to trust something that his own body is yelling shouldn't be trusted. That is the hidden part about knee injury recoveries. They never feel right, and it's very easy to keep the pressure off. That leads to aggravating other body parts by the way (bad back, bad ankles because of incorrect postures). That is the most remarkable thing about this.

      When he said he felt the scar tissue tearing, and that's when he decided to go even harder, that tells you something.
      This is a fantastic point, and one he alluded to tonight on INFL. It takes a special kind of mental acuity to do what he's done. I'd guess that many end up having more issues because it's on their mind, and therefore overcompensate for their injury.

      Some people say that "can't" isn't a part of their vocabulary. Very few actually live that sentiment. Peterson is a special, special type of talent.


      As for the comeback POY debate, as I said in the other thread, I'm torn. It's all in the wording. Is the definition of comeback simply a player who comes back following an extended layoff, or is it something less defined? I'm inclined to say that Manning probably should get that award no matter what, but the current Offensive POY in my mind is AD, hands down. I guess MVP is another debate entirely, but I think I'm starting to lean in Peterson's direction with that award as well.

      Even if Peterson doesn't pass Eric Dickerson, and ends up with "only" the magic 2000 yard season, considering all of the variables involved, would there be any way we could NOT call this the most impressive individual performance of all time, possibly in any sport? I'm sure Old Hoss Radbourn may have something to say about that, but there are no words that can adequately describe what AD is currently doing.
    1. edave's Avatar
      Near the end of the pre-season I read a rumor that Adrian Peterson had to come back quickly because of money issues, which saddened me. Topped off with the weird incident in Texas, I was concerned for him. About a month into the season, those worries seemed pretty silly.

      I don't happen to think that the Vikings OL is all that great at run blocking, which makes what AD is doing this season even more unfathomable. He's doing all the work getting to the second level and then turning on the jets and leaving DBs in the dust (the NFCN says hello).

      Does anyone know how the Comeback Player of the Year Award voting is done? If it's anything like the AP MVP vote, the lack of a ballot arrangement may really hurt him. I could easily see Manning get both awards while Peterson gets left in the cold.

      As to the question of missing one game or many, that seems beside the point. From Wikipedia (it's marked as needing a citation but matches my understanding of the award):

      The player named Comeback Player of the Year shows perseverance in overcoming adversity, in the form of not being in the NFL the previous year, a severe injury, or simply poor performance.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Peterson qualifies for Comeback player of the year.

      He qualified when he showed up in camp early, avoiding the PuP list.

      He qualifies when he started week 1. He defintely qualifies when he is on par to hit 2K.

      He defintely qualifies as the OPOY given that his best running has come in the second half of the season when his team decided to quit on the forward pass.

      Finally, he's great because he is still a throwback with a cool nickname. Not the crap we are faced with now.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by edave View Post
      As to the question of missing one game or many, that seems beside the point. From Wikipedia (it's marked as needing a citation but matches my understanding of the award):
      Thanks for that. Writers vote and it sounds as though the criteria are deliberately kept vague. My Google-fu is weak but I can't find a formal description of the voting rules.

      I hope folks don't misunderstand me about Peterson. In my pre-season predictions, I said his career was over. Obviously, what he's doing blows my mind. Two torn knee ligaments on December 24th and today he's the best runner in the league. Phenomenal.

      Someone said they'll divvy MVP and Comeback between Manning and AP. I don't know how you rig that, but it sounds fair, assuming both finish the season doing what they're doing now.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      Someone said they'll divvy MVP and Comeback between Manning and AP. I don't know how you rig that, but it sounds fair, assuming both finish the season doing what they're doing now.
      See last year, between Rodgers and Brees.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      212 today. At this point, aren't we all rooting for him to break the mark?
    1. FrzzerBwler's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      212 today. At this point, aren't we all rooting for him to break the mark?
      Absolutely. what is amazing is that defenses know what to scheme for and he still runs for 212
    1. edave's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      212 today. At this point, aren't we all rooting for him to break the mark?
      I'm going to be very conflicted in week 17.