Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Did the Vikings Wear Out Adrian Peterson?

Football Outsiders has popularized the "Curse of 270" which states that: "A running back with 370 or more carries during the regular season will usually suffer either a major injury or loss of effectiveness the following year, unless he is named Eric Dickerson."

Last year Peterson "only" carried the ball 363 times, short of 370, so he should be in the clear, right? Well, it doesn't really work like that.

Just so people understand, there's nothing magical about carry number 370 that makes a running back blow out his ACL, any more than there is something special about pitch 100 that makes a pitcher's arm fall off. It's simply a useful shorthand to represent the fact that overworking your running back with too many carries is a bad thing. The punishment gets worse and worse with more carries, and 370 is a close approximation of the tipping point.

In sum, Peterson's numbers from last year are right on the line of the supposed "tipping point."

This year's stats suggest---suggest---that he might be suffering from having been overworked. Over the first 6 games of this season, Peterson averaged 5.15 yards per carry, capping that run off with 143 yard game against the Ravens.

However, over the six games since, Peterson has averaged on 3.94 yards a carry, and that is with the benefit of a huge game against the Lions. Excluding the Lions game, Peterson is down to 3.35 yards a carry. Yikes.

It's still too early to tell, and maybe it is all just a coincidence, but Peterson is showing signs of being worn down and/or hobbled by nagging injuries this season. If you watched the Vikings/Cardinals game on Sunday, Peterson just looks tired, and he is actually starting to catch heat in the media.


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