As a major component of the new content deal between Yahoo! and NBC Sports, we're proud to present the first edition of "The Dungy Playbook," in which former NFL coach and current NBC NFL analyst Tony Dungy discusses the most pressing issues going on in the league.
Coach Dungy starts off by reflecting on the amazing season of Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, who rushed for 212 yards against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Less than a year after major knee surgery, Peterson is actually on a track to not only become the seventh back in league annals to break the 2,000-yard mark, but to possibly eclipse the single-season rushing-yardage record of 2,105 yards, set by Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams in 1984.
Dickerson's record was once thought to be unbreakable, but we never thought we'd see anyone run like Peterson after a major knee procedure, either. At 1,812 yards through 14 games, Peterson would need to average 147 in each of his last two regular-season games to make history.
Here's Coach Dungy on Peterson's prospects:
"Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings is having a phenomenal year this year. Leslie Frazier, his head coach, thought going into the season that he was going to have to put him on a pitch count -- limit him, maybe give him 10 or 12 carries per game. But Adrian said, 'No, coach -- I am ready. I am strong, and I am ready to go.' And he has played beyond anybody's expectations, closing in on 2,000 yards. He's averaged around 150 [yards per game] ... to break Eric Dickerson's record, [and] I think he can do it.
"But the question is, can he lead the Vikings into the playoffs? Two tough games -- at Houston, and home against Green Bay. If Adrian Peterson does lead them into the playoffs and breaks the record, I think he has to be the MVP of the league."
Perhaps what's most amazing about Peterson's season is that he's doing all of this in an offense without a legitimate threat at quarterback. In fact, he's averaging more yards per carry on the ground (6.3) than quarterback Christian Ponder is averaging per passing attempt (5.9). Thus, Peterson is on pace to shatter an unthinkable record despite the fact that he's constantly facing defenses primed to stop him and nobody else.
As Coach Dungy said, if Peterson leads the 8-6 Vikings to the playoffs and breaks Dickerson's mark, he'd have to be the shoo-in for the NFL's MVP award. We'd go one step further and opine that if he does both, Adrian Peterson will have enjoyed the greatest single season of any running back in NFL history
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