Coach Speak: Coordinators on Cole’s Progress, Ford’s Future and Patterson Returning Punts

Posted Dec 19, 2013

The three Vikings coordinators had their customary weekly press conferences on Thursday following the team’s morning walk-through. In this weekly piece, we’ll choose a comment from each of them and explain or react to what was said.

Question asked: How has Audie Cole been in coverage since entering the starting lineup?

Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams said: “He’s been good. If you look at his coverage as a whole, he’s been very good. It just seems that we’ve played, probably, more man coverage in the last couple of weeks because the offense dictated us to do that. But he’s been very good.”

Reaction: About the only criticism one could levy on Cole since he entered the starting lineup in Week 12 is the play he was beaten on in Baltimore for the game-deciding touchdown. There have surely been a few snaps here or there where Cole has been in the wrong, but it’s also likely that Cole wasn’t the only one who erred on the Baltimore touchdown. All of that aside, Cole has been productive since assuming a starting role, collecting a total of 48 tackles in four games. Is he the middle linebacker of the future? That’s to be determined. But one thing that seems apparent is that Cole can at least be a quality backup linebacker for many seasons to come, which is a complete win for the Vikings considering they acquired him with a seventh-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. A quality backup at a spot as important as middle linebacker for a seventh-round pick is a great find.

Question asked: Chase Ford has continued to see more playing time. What’s been your evaluation of him?

Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave said: “Chase has really done well for us. From the very first game where we put him in there against Dallas and he was a part of that super fourth-down run by Adrian where he literally carried Adrian into the end zone…We just talked to him about that this morning, about a year ago this week is when Chase first joined our team on the practice squad. We needed a body at tight end to get through the practices, and sure enough he just worked and worked and worked and earned more playing time and continues to impress.”

Reaction: One positive aspect of this season for the Vikings has been the performance of young players on the roster. This includes players such as Cole, mentioned above, and Ford, mentioned by Musgrave today, as well. Ford, just 23 years of age and in his first full NFL season, has the prototypical NFL tight end frame, measuring in at 6-6, 255 pounds. Musgrave mentioned later in his press conference that Ford’s strength is as a receiver in the passing game, meaning he could be a part of next year’s team to help provide depth at the position behind established producers Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson.

Question asked: Can Cordarrelle (Patterson) be your new punt returner?

Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said: “He’s got a lot on his plate right now. I think it’s hard for a young guy to be, with as much offense as he’s involved in now, a kickoff returner and a punt returner.”

Reaction: Another aspect to this is, and I know coach Priefer would speak to this, too, Marcus Sherels is doing a spectacular job for the Vikings on punt return. Sherels ranks third in the NFL with a return average of 13.1 on 18 returns, and he is one of just 12 returners to score a touchdown in 2013. Having such a solid option at punt returner makes forcing Patterson into the role less of a priority, at least for this season.