Records are made to be broken. Eric Dickerson knows this; he broke O.J. Simpson's single-season rushing yards mark in 1984 with 2,105 yards, more than 100 yards past the record.
Dickerson also knows that, had Morgan Burnett not dragged Adrian Peterson down at Green Bay's 10-yard line on December 30, "All Day" would have shattered Dickerson's 29-year-old record.
Peterson was dropped at the 2,097 mark. Had he made it to the 2-yard line, he and Dickerson would share the wealth. Any further, and Peterson swipes him off the apex.
The run that got Peterson to 2,097 went for 26 yards, a breakaway jaunt that had fans in Minnesota screaming themselves hoarse. Sure, the run had playoff implications, but even non-NFC North fans were cheering Peterson on with wide-eyes as he galloped toward history.
Short as he fell, there's no shame in his mark. He achieved an MVP-year one season after tearing his ACL, making his spire-season all the more impressive.
Adding what could just be good-natured bravado, Peterson says he feels even better now than he did last season, having suffered a faintly-reported-on sports hernia in November.
And so I good-naturedly ask the question: if Peterson can break 2,000 yards on a repaired leg, with a sports hernia to boot, can he break 2,000 again?
Nobody's ever broken 2,000 twice. Of the entire 2000 Club, Barry Sanders had the closest "second best" season of the seven, running for 1,883 yards in 1994.
But Peterson's already defied naysayers who said he wouldn't be the same in 2012, if ever again. While he's on a streak of defying expectations and convention, could a double-2,000 be next?
Here's how Peterson looked in 2012, game by game.
|Week||Opponent||Att||Yds||YPA||Opp Avg YPA|
Only three times in sixteen games was an opponent able to hold Peterson under their average. Given that Peterson averaged a whopping 6.03 yards a carry, it was inevitable there'd be some resistance from even the stingiest D's.
Peterson took a lighter workload earlier in the year, perhaps tentativeness from the play-callers (Christian Ponder was also shockingly efficient early on, taking pressure off of Peterson).
Had the coaches had the confidence to throw Peterson full gore at the threadbare run defense of Indianapolis, he'd probably not only have the record, the new record would probably be unbreakable in our lifetimes.
But what lies ahead for 2013? Here's how the schedule shakes out.
|Week||Opponent||2012 YPA Avg||Defensive Notes||Trending|
|1||at Detroit||4.47||Addressed poor D play by drafting Ziggy Ansah and Darius Slay, signed Jason Jones and Glover Quin, almost no changes to defensive coaching staff.||Neutral|
|2||at Chicago||4.20||Trying to replace Brian Urlacher at linebacker with DJ Williams, drafted Jon Bostic; Mel Tucker takes over as defensive coordinator, his defenses do give up yards, but make up for that with turnovers.||Down|
|3||Cleveland||4.15||Barkevious Mingo and Paul Kruger are added to an already punishing run defense, and Ray Horton comes in to run his unrelenting 3-4 scheme.||Up|
|4||Pittsburgh||3.71||Jarvis Jones is added to an aging defense, almost as old as coordinator Dick LeBeau, but damned if they don't find ways to punish offenses and poach turnovers.||Neutral|
|6||Carolina||4.23||D-Line gets upgrade with Star Lotulelei and Kawaan Short in the draft, so more outside running from AP will be necessary. Beyond them, other than Luke Kuechly (and the oft-injured Jon Beason), there aren't too many roadblocks.||Up|
|7||at New York Giants||4.60||Aging players Cullen Jenkins and Dan Connor likely won't make too much of a difference. Jason Pierre-Paul may lose some effectiveness coming off back surgery, being that he'll miss camp and preseason. If last year's group couldn't stop the run, why would this year's?||Down|
|8||Green Bay||4.54||Added DE Datone Jones in round one, and he can wreak havoc all through the line, but made few other changes to the horrid run defense. A year of team continuity could help, but the matchup still favors AP.||Down|
|9||at Dallas||4.54||Bruce Carter, Sean Lee, and Barry Church are all healthy. The underrated Justin Durant joins the team, and Monte Kiffin will be calling his claustrophobia-inducing defense. This could be a tough one.||Up|
|10||Washington||4.22||Brian Orakpo's healthy once more, but the team was decent without him. Until Marshawn Lynch treated them like bowling pins in the Wild Card round.||Neutral|
|11||at Seattle||4.49||More lauded for their pass defense, as evidenced by their 4.49 YPA average. AP ran for 182 yards on them last season. Gus Bradley's no longer there to rile them up, either, but they're still a tremendous group.||Neutral|
|12||at Green Bay||4.54||Added DE Datone Jones in round one, and he can wreak havoc all through the line, but made few other changes to the horrid run defense. A year of team continuity could help, but the matchup still favors AP.||Down|
|13||Chicago||4.20||Trying to replace Brian Urlacher at linebacker with DJ Williams, drafted Jon Bostic; Mel Tucker takes over as defensive coordinator, his defenses do give up yards, but make up for that with turnovers.||Down|
|14||at Baltimore||3.99||Everyone on the defense either retired, went to another team, or spontaneously combusted like a Spinal Tap drummer. Signings like Marcus Spears and Elvis Dumervil indicate strengthen pass rush, but the run may take a small slip.||Down|
|15||Philadelphia||4.22||Switched to the 3-4 under Bill Davis, and are working to improve their pass defense. DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Connor Barwin, and Isaac Sopoaga will provide adequate stoppage.||Neutral|
|16||at Cincinnati||4.04||The most underrated defense in football adds James Harrison for pass-rushing, and an upgrade in attitude. With Geno Atkins and Domata Peko up front, and Harrison Rey Maualuga, and the turnaround Vontaze Burfict behind them, the Bengals give little quarter.||Up|
|17||Detroit||4.47||Addressed poor D play by drafting Ziggy Ansah and Darius Slay, signed Jason Jones and Glover Quin, almost no changes to defensive coaching staff.||Neutral|
To get to 2,000 yards in 16 games, you need 125 YPG. For the most part, Peterson was able to wreck the curve of each team's 2012 YPA defensive average.
If Peterson's going to break the 2,000 barrier for an unprecedented second time, and he manages to maintain his career average of 5.0 YPA, here's how many carries per game I estimate he'll need to get 125 YPG.
(Formula: 125 / (team's YPA average in 2012 + .4 YPA (for AP) +/- trending variable*))
* Up trend = subtract .1 YPA, neutral trend = no change, down trend = add .3 YPA