Truth is, however, Peterson could be aging better than many other running backs do. As NFL analyst Gil Brandt pointed out, Peterson still had a great season in 2019 at age 34, putting up some very quality numbers even against stacked boxes and grinding out the yards.
Looking at AP's numbers from last year at age 34, he was as steady and reliable as ever:
Was at his best vs. stacked boxes, averaged 5.3 ypc, 2 yards above his expected ypc (highest in NFL), according to @NextGenStats. He saw stacked boxes 29.4% of time, 12th highest avg in NFL.
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) September 8, 2020
Obviously, the Lions haven’t had a consistent running game in decades. A Detroit runner was hard pressed to come close to 5 yards per carry last season, with Kerryon Johnson only averaging 3.6 yards per attempt. If Peterson can come in and add some strength and depth, the team will be very thankful. Reliable is a good buzz word to use for the situation.
In 2019, Peterson ran for 898 yards and 5 scores. These numbers would have put him far and away atop the heap of Detroit runners, the closest of whom was Johnson, who finished with 403 rushing yards and 3 scores on the ground. Along with D’Andre Swift, all of a sudden, the Lions have some depth and consistency to rely on out of the backfield.
While the specific role of Peterson for Week 1 might not be known, it’s clear the runner has a lot to give, as Brandt points out. Many might chide Peterson as over the hill, but he still gets it done as a runner on the biggest stage, perhaps a testament to his great preparation.
Adrian Peterson Dominates NFC North
In his career, Peterson has torched the NFC North, something which the Lions know all too well from years of competing against him. Pro Football Focus showed that in his career running against the division, Peterson had an 89.4 grade overall.
Adrian Peterson’s career grade vs. NFC North opponents: 89.4 pic.twitter.com/KvDefcFeah
— PFF (@PFF) September 6, 2020
That’s not even the half of it in terms of Peterson’s insane production head to head against the division. In total, he’s rushed for 5,185 and 41 touchdowns against his closest competition he had during his career. In terms of damage, Peterson has done the most against the Green Bay Packers, with 1,975 yards and 16 scores in his career.
Obviously, Peterson has tons of miles on his tires, but his resurfacing in the division he torched for years is certainly noteworthy for competition he has gotten to know well and play great against when he’s suited up.
Adrian Peterson Stats
In his career, Peterson has been one of the more productive backs in football. The 2012 NFL MVP stuck with the Vikings from 2007-2016, then landing with the Saints and Cardinals and finally in Washington for the last 2 seasons. Peterson is a lock to be in the Hall of Fame soon once his career ends given his exploits. The former Oklahoma Sooner is also a 7 time Pro Bowl player and a 4 time first team All-Pro runner as well.
This season, Peterson could make NFL history with the Lions. Peterson’s 14,216 career rushing yards currently ranks fifth all-time, and he trails Barry Sanders’ 15,269 yards. That means Peterson could surpass Sanders this season if he rushes for 1,054 yards at the age of 35 in Detroit.
It would be an interesting post script if Peterson was to play the last years of his career with the Lions and manage to surpass Sanders. That’s especially true given his standing as a long time Lions rival and classic tormentor.
Peterson is more than capable of putting up a big season and chipping in to lead a rushing attack revival in Detroit.
READ NEXT: Adrian Peterson Has Dominated NFC North