Adrian Peterson and the Quest for 2,000 Yards

Andy RAnalyst IJune 29, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 09:  Running back Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates his game winning 29 yard touchdown run with 2:22 left in the game with the Green Bay Packers on November 9, 2008 at the Metrodome in Mineapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Last year around this time, Adrian Peterson set a goal for 2,000 yards rushing in a single season. He fell short of that mark by about 240 yards by gaining 1,760 on the ground.

He had it easy last season facing the 32nd ranked defense of the Detroit Lions and the 26th ranked Green Bay Packers twice. Both teams have upgraded their defense and it's unlikely either will finish in the same spot again.

The Bears on the other hand ranked fifth in rush defense last season and Peterson played them twice, rushing for 252 yards.

Overall in 2008, rushing defenses that Peterson faced ranked an average of 19th.

In 2009, Peterson will face rushing defenses that finished an average of 18th in 2008.

This season, he faces stiffer competition.

In back-to-back weeks, Peterson will have to rush against the Baltimore Ravens at home before heading on the road to face the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens finished 2008 ranked third in rushing defense while the Steelers ranked second.

Peterson didn't have the opportunity to face a traditional 3-4 defense last season. The last time he did so was against the San Francisco 49ers who held Peterson to just three yards on 14 carries.

Sadly though, that was after he was coming back from a two-week break after suffering a blow to the knee by Al Harris of the Green Bay Packers.

The 2009 season brings plenty of 3-4 defenses, though. With the Packers switching to a 3-4 defense, the Vikings will play six games against a 3-4. Those games include the Packers twice, Ravens, Steelers, Browns, and 49ers.

So, will Peterson be able to play well against the 3-4? Only time will tell.

His hardest obstacle will come against the Steelers who haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher since November 18, 2007 when Thomas Jones rushed for 117 yards. The problem for the Steelers is they haven't faced an Adrian Peterson before.

Peterson saw a bunch of eight and nine-man fronts. With a new quarterback on his way, that's all about to change.

The likely addition of Brett Favre will open the field for Peterson to run wild. He has destroyed six and seven-man fronts and he will see many more in 2009.

Say what you want about Brett Favre. Defensive Coordinators won't be putting eight men in the box nearly as often with a Hall of Famer at the helm.

The NFL has only had a handful of 2,000 yard rushers: O.J Simpson (2,003), Terrell Davis (2,008), Barry Sanders (2,053), Jamal Lewis (2,066), and Eric Dickerson (2,105).

Can Peterson become the next?