There are many out there who would say that either Peyton Manning or Tom Brady deserves the title more than Peterson. For a large percentage of fans and analysts, however, there is no argument that a running back warrants the accolade this season.
Adrian Peterson has looked like a man amongst boys in the 2012 NFL season. He is one of the few offensive players who can do damage to opposing defenses just when they try to tackle him. The term “Throwback Player” is something that people like to label players, and Peterson truly deserves that brand.
He shows flashes of Earl Campbell and Jim Brown almost every week, whether he is mowing down a tackler or getting an extra two to three yards just by sheer will.
As of Week 15, Peterson has amassed 1,812 rushing yards in just 289 carries. The Houston Texans' Arian Foster has 1,313 yards with 325 carries.
Peterson is averaging 6.3 yards per attempt and has 20 carries for over 20-plus yards. He is currently the only running back averaging over 100 yards per game, as well.
While the stats are just stats, the way that he has accumulated them makes an even better story.
The Minnesota Vikings probably have one of the 10 worst quarterbacks currently in the NFL in Christian Ponder. His 78.6 rating doesn’t really scream “elite QB." Having an awful quarterback will usually hamper a running back for a couple of reasons. For one, defenses know exactly what the Vikings offense is trying to do, so they can just put eight players close to the line to stop the back.
Surprisingly, that hasn’t stopped Peterson from crushing players.
During practice and film study, all franchises are focusing on Adrian because he is the only offensive weapon on the team after the season-ending injury of Percy Harvin.
Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers are also in the MVP discussion, as the quarterback position has reached an all-time importance in the new era of the NFL. All three players are on top of their game, but Peterson has a much bigger challenge than all of them.
Tom Brady has the best coach in NFL and has been in the same system for years, and teams can’t just focus on him or he will put up 40 points on them. Peyton Manning has mental tools as well as a running game with a defense that capitalizes on big leads by aggressive play. Aaron Rodgers has the best receiving corps in the league.
All of those players are not doing it all by themselves, however, like Adrian Peterson running the exact same plays regularly.
The Comeback Player of the Year Award should also go to Peterson.
After he went down in December 2011 with an ACL injury and light MCL tear, writers were saying he was done and would never be the same; he came back better and stronger. Most ACL injuries of that magnitude require a year of rehab before any strenuous activity.
Playing running back when all defenses know you are getting the ball is about as strenuous as it gets. We have never in the history of sports seen an athlete heal this fast. To top that off, Peterson is on his way to breaking Eric Dickerson’s rushing record, thanks to no real layoff after that knee injury.
He has two more games against the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers to try to become one of the best running backs of all time while the position is losing some of its luster in the pass-happy NFL of today.