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: For Cordarrelle (Patterson), do you have packages that you’re putting in with him and (Jerome) Simpson on the field. And if so, how much do you want to expand that?
Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave said: “We do. We didn’t get a lot of plays the other night. We need to stay on the field so we can call more than a couple dozen, excluding the two-minute the other night. We want to get into our game plan because we do have some packages that we’re excited about…getting both those guys out on the field and letting them do their thing.”
Reaction: Patterson’s playing time has been on the rise ever since the Vikings game against the Steelers in London. He was on the field for 24% of the snaps against the Browns in Week 3, 25% against the Steelers in Week 4, 31% against the Panthers in Week 6 and the Giants in Week 7, and then 32% of the snaps against the Packers last week. But Musgrave is correct that if the team wants to continue increasing Patterson’s offensive workload, they’re going to have to start sustaining drives and possessing the ball. The opposition has dominated time of possession against the Vikings in recent weeks, with Green Bay holding a 20-minute advantage, and Pittsburgh, Carolina and New York a 13-minute advantage each. Once the Vikings are able to establish the run and sustain drives, I think we’ll start to see Patterson make more of an impact on offense.
Question asked: With Xavier (Rhodes), is he playing aggressively enough? Is he playing within the scheme? How are his instincts? Where would you assess all of that right now?
Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams said: Aggressive enough, yes. But he’s still learning. There are going to be times you see him knowing exactly what to do. He diagnoses the play and he goes. Then there are other plays where he’s thinking ‘What does this formation say and what is my assignment?’ And he may not move quite as fast. Right now he’s about 50-50 with playing extremely fast and playing less fast than he should. What we’re seeing though, that some people do not see, is that the percentage that he’s playing fast and like we want him to is going up.”
Reaction: Football is a complex game that requires much study and observation in order to get a truly good handle on the details. At the same time, the game of football is not always rocket science. That’s where the “eye test” comes in. Sometimes you just know something when you see it. That’s how I feel about Rhodes – to me, he passes the eye test. He has the look and feel of a player who will one day be a very good and productive player. Right now, though, Rhodes is going through some growing pains as he plays through his rookie season. The key is for Rhodes to continue making a few splashy plays here and there to accompany some of the growing pains he’s experiencing. As long as those positive plays are happening, you can live with the growing pains.
Question asked: How do you compare and contrast Cordarrelle (Patterson) and Percy (Harvin)?
Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said: “Percy was probably a little bit more explosive once he hit the seam. Cordarrelle has great vision. Both have great long speed, as well. They are both tough. People are bouncing off both of them. They are very similar. Different body types but similar returners.”
Reaction: It’s interesting to compare these two players because they both make such a huge difference in the return game, and often times the points scored and/or yards gained in the return game are hidden because special teams is the forgotten about phase of the game. When the Vikings traded Harvin to Seattle this past offseason, many wondered how he would be replaced on offense. In reality, though, the Vikings were giving up as much or more in the return game by parting ways with Harvin. That’s where Patterson comes in. With Patterson handling kickoff return duties, the Vikings haven’t lost anything in that phase of the game. Patterson leads the NFL in kickoff return yardage, kickoff return average and kickoff return touchdowns. While he may still be developing as a receiver, Patterson is already an elite returner.