It is obvious to everyone (except maybe LeSean McCoy) that Adrian in the best running back in the game today. In fact, he is even already considered one of the best to ever play the position and a sure fire Hall-of-Famer. All of this in only seven seasons and before the age of 30.
At this point, we can’t help but wonder if he will ever top Emmitt Smith’s rushing record of 18,355 total yards. Currently, Peterson is ranked 27th all-time with 10,115 rushing yards. No matter how good he is, this will be no easy task. But as we know, with Adrian anything is possible.
Adrian himself has said he will break the record in 2017. He has never been one to shy away from lofty goals and this is no different. With 8,240 yards left to go, four years may not be enough time, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do it at some point. If you take his career average to this point of 1,445, Adrian needs to play about 5 and half more years at a similar pace to break the record. At the age of 29, that means Peterson will probably still need to be playing when he is 34. Emmitt Smith played a whopping 13 seasons and retired at the age of 35. However, Smith’s production definitely took a hit in his final years.
Conversely, Walter Payton played until he was 34 and had some of his best statistical seasons towards the end of his career. Although age eventually catches up to every player, Adrian has shown time and time again that he can defy the odds. His longevity will ultimately be the biggest factor in whether or not he succeeds.
Another big factor is going to be the game plan of the current coaching staff. Norv Tuner will still rely heavily on the running game, but there is definitely going to be more of a focus on downfield passing that hasn’t been there in the past few seasons. This will lead to a very balanced attack, but may also lead to a few less carries than normal. If this proves true, the lessened work load could actually benefit him in the long run. Limiting his wear and tear will be vital in chasing down Emmitt. A balanced attack should also help open up running lanes.
Besides Brett Farve, Peterson hasn’t had great QB play to go along with his dominant performances. Most of his career he has faced 8 or 9 men in the box. Amazingly, he has still been successful. Fans have always wondered what he would be capable of if defenses were forced to honor the Viking’s passing game. Between Cassel and Bridgewater, we actually could get to witness just that. What matters isn’t necessarily the quantity of carries he gets, but the quality. The long runs are where Adrian makes his money and with competent quarterback play, we could actually see more of them.
The last factor is Adrian Peterson’s sheer desire. Physically we know he is a freak of nature, but the same can be said for his mental makeup. He has a determination that is unmatched by almost anyone. It’s hard to believe he would ever let anything get in the way of him accomplishing a goal. I also don’t see him hanging it up early like Barry Sanders did. He loves the game and loves to compete. Barring a severe injury, I believe he easily has six more years in him.
In answering this question, logic tells me he will come up short. But where AP is concerned, I have learned to throw logic out the window. That said, I think we will see this amazing record fall sometime in the 2019 season. Whenever he does it, I can’t wait to see AP run his way into the record books…whether he is wearing purple and gold or not.