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Should Adrian Peterson Retire at Season's End?

Former NFL scout Daniel Kelly dives into whether Adrian Peterson should retire at season's end

Adrian Peterson is a beast. He runs like a bull. He is the fifth-leading rusher in NFL history, and he flat out plays the game the way it was meant to be played.

He slams it up between the tackles in a way that would put a smile on the faces of anyone who’s ever carried the rock, whether it be Jim Brown, Larry Csonka or John Riggins. 

The guy is a flat-out baller, the kind of baller who is a throwback and the kind of baller who has earned my respect as a talent evaluator. 

He has earned over $100 million in his pro career, yet he is still running with the kind of purpose, bright eyes and power most rookies can only dream of. 

He does not have to be doing this, yet he will still cut back and dish it out. I do not care who it is against ... he will bring it. 

He has defied major knee injuries, and he has defied Father Time itself. 

And no, Peterson does not need to retire anytime soon. I will take a guy like him, and win a ring. 

He is the best running back Detroit has on its roster.

I studied Peterson extensively in a number of games last season for Washington. 

Peterson still has gas left in his tank -- and a lot of it. 

Just look at his eyes when he is set back in a single-back look. That is what I am talking about. 

That is the look I want in the eyes. That excites me. 

The look of desire. The look of intensity. The "Eye of the Tiger," as it is called. 

He is banging it between the tackles this season, like a battering ram. He will run right into the teeth of the defense, like a car slamming into a bridge. 

Does he have the burst and breakaway speed that made him elite In Minnesota? No. 

But, he still has all the rest. 

He still shows the balance, vision, instincts, physicality, toughness and desire that has made him special over the years. 

He will take what defenses give him. If they are not careful, he will find even more -- which he has shown several times this season for the Lions when he has broken away from the pack, such as when he's broken off runs for 21 yards vs. CHI, 25 yards against GB and 27 yards against ARI. 

Retire? No. 

He will retire on his terms, similar to the manner in which he has played the game. 

Nobody has the right to tell this stud he needs to retire or should retire. 

The only thing we need to do is stand and applaud.


These are some of my scouting notes from 2020. 

Week 1 vs. CHI: Ran hard, downhill runner, showed will to cut it back. Good vision. Able to bounce outside. Still has some speed. Still dishing it out. Looks like he cares. Gave second effort. 

Week 2 against GB: Ran with toughness. Slams it up in there. Shows vision and balance. Ran with purpose. Not looking to go out of bounds, and will challenge for extra yardage. 

Week 3 against ARI: Hard cutbacks, showing vision and instincts. Showcased nice spin move, and looked to pick up more. Ran hard. Tough. Effort. Takes what defense gives. Willing to hit it up in the heart of the defense. 

Week 4 vs. NO: Willing to slam it up in there. Impressive five-yard touchdown. Would not be denied. Showed emotion. Doesn’t look like he is running out of gas. 

Week 6 against JAX: Hard, downhill runner. Powered into end zone from one yard out. Ran into the middle. Tough. Able to cut back inside. Got outside to the left for eight yards on a run. 

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Week 7 against ATL: Ran hard straight ahead. Showed vision and toughness. Ran hard downhill. A between-the-tackles runner. Twisted, spun and fought for yardage (i.e. for seven yards on one run like that). 

Week 8 vs. IND: Used less in this game. Ran seven yards hard downhill. Caught the ball out of the backfield. 

Granted, there are some runs that are a yard or two, and he gets shut down. But, that happens to the best of them. 

This season, he is still averaging 3.8 yards per carry. Retire? No. 

Here is the thing Patricia and Bevell need to know: He gets better the more he gets the ball. 

Give it to him 20 times a game, and he will wear a defense out and he will be close to -- if not have more than -- 100 yards per game. 

He will pound it like a steel hammer, and help control the game clock, as many times as Stafford hands it off to him.

Why Washington let him go is beyond me. He was in the mold of any of the greats who have ever run the rock out there. 

My scouting report and grade from last season with Washington (which is identical to what I would write this season)

RB Adrian Peterson - 6-foot-1, 220 pounds

Grade: B (Good player, but not elite; he's good enough to win with)

Tough, slashing downhill runner who shows instincts, vision and nose for holes and creases. Can cut it back, and is tough to bring down. Defenders need to bring it in order to get him down. Methodical. Always going forward. Physical. Can still bounce it to the outside, and runs with purpose. Still wants it. Ran with some attitude. Ran like he was mad in the Miami game in Week 6. Lacks a "second gear" or homerun speed. Speed builds. Shows he can also catch the ball out of the backfield. Dependable veteran who still has some gas left in the tank. Gets better the more he carries it.

Ever since he left Minnesota in 2016, all he has done is bounce around for some reason. 

The last two seasons on some pretty bad Washington teams, these are his numbers: 

2018 - 251 attempts, 1,042 yards, 4.2 yards per carry and seven TDs

2019 - 211 attempts, 898 yards, 4.3 yards per carry and five TDs

Retire? No. 

Dear Matt Patricia and Darrell Bevell, it is time to throttle down hard, punch the gas, give him the rock and watch the old sparks fly. 

Forget the running back-by-committee approach. Forget the rotation. 

Let Peterson, No. 28, carry you to the playoffs. 

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