Adrian Peterson arrived in New Orleans with a lot of fanfare and excitement after mulling offers from a few teams during free agency. Peterson looks to make a comeback with the Saints after being out of football due to injuries in 2016.
The questions about Adrian Peterson was: how much does he have left in the tank? Can he catch the ball out of the backfield in a Sean Payton system? Can he remain healthy? All of these are very valid questions for the 32 year old running back. All will be revealed in time as the season progresses.
I was listening to “The Sports Coma with Big Q & The Guys” and the guys were commenting about Adrian Peterson and how they thought that “AP isn’t coming here to back up anybody.” That comment got me thinking of what’s pushing AP — a 1st ballot Hall of Fame running back — to return from the latest batch of injuries yet again.
I did some research and discovered why AP is motivated to become a starter in this offense despite the flowery words we hear in the press.
Peterson joined the Saints despite the obvious competition with current starter Mark Ingram. Ingram just finished his best overall season to date. He rushed for a career-high 1,043 yards, career-high games played (14), career highest yards a carry (5.1), and career-high receiving TD’S (4).
Lets take a look at 3 reasons why I believe AP is motivated to be a starter. And at why Ingram is not his only competition.
First reason: climbing up the all-time rushing list
We know AP is pursuing a Super Bowl ring. But he currently ranks only 16th on the all-time rushing list with 11,747 yards. If Adrian Peterson can gain just 1,000 yards this year it will boost him to 9th all-time behind Frank Gore and just a head of Tony Dorsett.
AP signed a 2-year contract. Let’s say he remains healthy. He could get at least 1,000 yards in 2017 and 1,000 in 2018. That is enough to elevate him to 5th all-time right behind Curtis Martin
We know that a player as great as Peterson is playing to add to his legacy. I would be quite naive to think this isn’t a milestone for a player as great as he is.
Second reason: climbing the rushing TD’s list
Peterson ranks 10th overall on the all-time rush TD’s list with 97. He has averaged at least 10 TD’s a year when he’s played a minimum 12 games in a season.
If AP remains healthy and achieves his traditional 10 TD’s a year, he’ll move up to 5th all-time. Ahead of Cleveland Brown’s great Jim Brown.
Let’s say the former Oklahoma Sooner Star get’s 10 TD’s in 2018. That will lift him to 4th all-time, ahead of The Great Walter Payton. He would trail only Emmet Smith (164), LaDainian Tomlinson (145) and Marcus Allen (123).
Third reason: climbing up the rushing attempts list
AP ranks 26th all-time behind Rickey Williams with 2,418 carries. In Peterson’s last full healthy year, 2015, he had 327 carries. That was the second most in his illustrious career. We know Adrian Peterson has to share the workload with two other backs in the Saints offense which will lessen his rushing attempts.
Last year Mark Ingram had 205 rushing attempts while backup Tim Hightower was given 133. This is why I think AP won’t gain much ground, because of the workload concept of multiple backs in the Saints scheme.
I estimate AP could get anywhere from 140 to 180 attempts in 2017 barring injury to other Saints running backs. Let’s be conservative and estimate he gets 150 carries. that elevates into 22nd behind former Bengal/Patriots back Corey Dillion.
So, in conclusion, that’s why I agree that Adrian Peterson is here to start. He’s in a competition for his rank among the greatest running backs of all-time besides Mark Ingram. The ultimate motivation to add to his illustrious Hall Of Fame legacy.