For anyone with an ESPN Insider subscription, this article by KC Joyner is a must read. I can't (and won't) reprint it in it's entirety here, but I wanted to summarize the relevant bits. Mr. Joyner does an excellent job breaking down the possible ways that Adrian Peterson could actually achieve this lofty goal he has set for himself.
The article opens by taking a look at the six running backs that have actually rushed for at least 2,000 yards or more in a season and points out that not one was able to repeat the feat the following year. In fact, they all had significant drops in production with only Barry Sanders minimizing his drop by less than 600 yards the following year. Joyner points out that if history is any indication, then Peterson has virtually no chance to reach 2500 yards in 2013, let alone 2,000.
But this is where it gets interesting, because Joyner lays out the three possible ways Peterson can reach his goal, and if all three things come together in the right way, he actually has a legitimate shot to reach 2500 yards. Here are the ways:
1. Over the second half of the season (Weeks 9-17, with the Vikings having a bye in Week 11), Peterson averaged 165.25 yards per game, which pro-rates to 2,644 yards in a 16-game stretch...Simply playing a complete slate of games at full strength is a good start to getting him to 2,500 yards.
Ok, good point. As we all know, Peterson was not 100% to start the year, but by the end, he was mostly there (aside from the abdominal thing). Starting out the year 100% and playing the full 16-game slate at full speed would certainly help.
2. Peterson ranked second in the league in carries last year (348) but during the second half of the season he averaged 24.62 rushes per game. If he kept that workload level up for a 16-game stretch, Peterson would post 394 rush attempts. Assuming he once again gains 6.0 yards per carry (as he did last season), that would equal 2,364 yards, or a level that puts him within range of 2.5K. If the Vikings merely gave him 1-2 more carries per contest on top of that, Peterson would reach his goal.
Interesting theory, but this assumes the Vikings will give Peterson an AVERAGE of 26 carries a game. That's an insane number.
3. During the first half of the year, Peterson tallied a 9.0 GBYPA (Good Blocking Yards Per Attempt), which is an extremely good mark in this category but isn't earth-shattering. In the second half, Peterson racked up an insanely high 13.3 GBYPA.
Rather than assuming he will keep up the second half pace for a 16-game stretch, let's assume he will reach a midpoint between his first and second half paces and use his season-ending 11.1 GBYPA total as the pace he can replicate. If Peterson gets a 45.0 percent GBR (Good Blocking Rate) for the year on a volume of 390 carries and he averages 11.1 yards on those attempts, that gives him 1,948 yards on those rushes. If he gains 2.7 yards on plays with bad blocking (his 2012 pace in that category), he will get 579 yards. Put the two together and it equals 2,527 yards, or just over his stated goal.
Very interesting analysis on this last one. This is probably a bit of a stretch to assume that the blocking we had last year holds up the same in 2013. It sure could, but who knows? The offense will have a different vibe with Jennings and Patterson in the mix at wide receiver instead of Harvin and Michael Jenkins. And that will surely impact the blocking numbers a little bit.
Basically, in a nutshell, Joyner is saying that if the Vikings increase Peterson's workload just a little bit, and the team blocks as well as they did last year that Peterson has a very good chance to reach his goal of 2500 yards, especially considering that Peterson will start off the year 100% healthy. It sure sounds like a good theory, but do you buy it?