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Coach Speak: Patterson’s Progress, Defending Russell Wilson and Kickoff Returns

Posted Nov 14, 2013

The Vikings three coordinators had their customary weekly press conference 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: Where has Cordarrelle (Patterson) come the furthest in his development?

Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave said: “I think his overall knowledge. He now knows more than just one position. We’re mixing and matching him, and trying to get him in good spots, as well as featuring our other guys, too. We know Cordarrelle doesn’t have a lot of football history. He played at Tennessee and had a great year, but wasn’t even able to go through Spring ball or even their training camp. So he’s done a fantastic job of really catching up to speed in terms of overall football knowledge.”

Reaction: Patterson’s dynamic skill set and incredible make-you-miss ability has fans quite excited and anxious to see more. That’s completely understandable, and I share those emotions. But I also know it's easy to overestimate how quickly a talented player can come in and make an impact, particularly at receiver. It might seem surprising to some, but receiver is actually one of the more difficult positions in which to make an impact at as a rookie. It’s good to hear Musgrave acknowledge that Patterson is making strides in the mental part of the game. Also, keep in mind that Jerome Simpson plays the same position as Patterson and is the starter at that position. He had a great start to the season, so it's tough to get Patterson in the game with Simpson playing so well and it's also tough to get Patterson in the game with Simpson playing that well and with Patterson learning one position at first.  But now that Patterson has learned his primary position, he's starting to learn other spots and that's why his snaps have increased the last several weeks.

 

Question asked: What’s the hardest challenge in facing a quarterback like Russell Wilson?

Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams said: “It’s all tough. If you try to do one thing, if you try to stay back and say ‘Hey, we’re gonna stay at the line of scrimmage and we’re not gonna rush him.” He has a ton of time. If you get up the field and create gaps, he’s gonna find the gap and he’ll get out. We have to be smart rushers in making sure we don’t get too high. Make sure you have extra effort when you’re getting to the quarterback. And as I’ve always said, it’s rush and coverage. You can’t let the reveivers get open and let him get the ball out of his hands quickly. We have to make sure he does not have an open window right now, to make him run around, and when you have a chance you have to get him on the ground, which is not an easy task.”

Reaction: I was down at the Senior Bowl in January of 2012 when Wilson was the starting quarterback for the Leslie Frazier-coached North squad. I believe Wilson’s strongest asset is his mental ability, mental approach to the game and leadership skills. Those three traits allowed him to come to Seattle as a third-round pick and as the third-string quarterback and in seemingly no time at all ascend the depth chart and win the starting job. Now, it’s hard to define exactly how that makes it tough for the Vikings to defend him. So I’ll defer to what Williams said – that Wilson’s mobility and escapability, in combination with his decision-making, is what will challenge the Vikings the most on Sunday. Wilson just doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, and sometimes that’s the best trait a quarterback can possess.

 

Question asked: If Patterson does get more involved in the offense, does that alter your ability to use him?

Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said: “I hope not. We’ve had a plan in the past for good returners that have played receiver. We’ll take it as a case-by-case basis, but I’m going to use him as long as the head coach tells me I can use him.”

Reaction: Priefer and the Vikings coaching staff had this very same issue pop up with Percy Harvin, which is the situation to which Priefer referred in his answer. Harvin was the Vikings primary receiver from 2010-12 and at the same time was the NFL’s best return man along with Devin Hester. The Vikings found a way to use Harvin in both phases, and they will do the same with Patterson. Since Patterson does not have as prominent a role in the offense as Harvin had, I don’t anticipate Patterson’s reps decreasing at all at kickoff return. But only time will tell on that one.