Names like Teddy Bridgewater, Matt Asiata, Jerick McKinnon and Jarius Wright weren’t even part of the equation when the season began, but they are now. One name, however, that was expected to produce big things was wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
In Peterson’s absence, the days of eight defenders in the box on every play haven’t been present like it was. Defenses have become free to try different things, among them being doubling up Patterson, whose numbers have suffered in recent weeks.
For his part, Patterson has felt that, in his own way, he has let down offensive coordinator Norv Turner. But, at the same time, he feels there is going to be a time when a breakout game is on the horizon and he hopes it will be this week against the Bills.
“Of course, we feel like that all the time,” Patterson said. “As receivers, we talk to each other and we let this whole offense down. It’s our job to step up this weekend and just show everybody what this offense is about.”
While the Vikings offense has sputtered – it’s been almost five full games since the team threw a touchdown pass and, over the last two games, the Vikings have managed just one rushing touchdown. But Turner hasn’t lost faith in what the receiver corps can accomplish.
“Nothing has changed about him,” Patterson said. “He’s the same guy. He expects big things out of us and this week is a big week for us. We hope we can give him what he needs this week.”
Last Sunday’s game with the Lions was a low point for the Vikings offense. Bridgewater was running for his life much of the day, taking eight sacks and avoiding sacks on a handful of other plays. But the receivers weren’t doing him any favors.
There were drops across the board from the Vikings receivers Sunday and at times it appeared as though they weren’t running routes at full speed. The Vikings are chalking it up to one bad day with the expectation that they will step it up and show that last week was an anomaly in a long season and that the substandard performance last week won’t become a trend.
“I don’t feel like it’s trouble,” Patterson said. “People always have bad days. You can’t always have good days at work. So this week, it’s going to be different. I feel like from (Wednesday’s) practice, this whole offense, we changed things around. So this week we feel is the week for us.”
Although he has been out on the field and carrying a full workload, Patterson admitted that his ailing hip has been bothering him and it was the reason he was shuttled in and out of the lineup last week. The hip is feeling better and he credits the coaching staff with taking it into account – allowing him to play on a part-time basis while his injured hip was healing and he expects to be 100 percent heading into Buffalo Sunday, but it was still an issue last week.
“It kind of does because I couldn’t cut like I wanted to,” Patterson said of trying to play through the pain. “Last week, (the coaches) did a good job rotating me in and out with Charles (Johnson). Charles is a great guy and a good player, so they did a good job with that.”
Zimmer has been critical of many of the aspects of the Vikings – from offense to defense to special teams. But he doesn’t have a concern that the numerous drops the Vikings had last week will be a recurring issue. He believes if you dwell on issues like that, they can become problematic and he’s looking to avoid such discussion.
“Honestly, everybody else is a lot more worried about it than I am,” Zimmer said. “I’m not that worried about it. I’ve watched how we catch the ball in practice. We don’t drop balls here. There’s something to be said, guys are contesting catches in the NFL. It’s not like you’re wide open and things. We’ve just got to keep concentrating on those things. You see guys over there like that, they’re over there working on it (after practice). All you can do is keep getting open and when you get the opportunities, you got to make the play.”
As the Vikings move forward in the 2014 season, the expectation will be that Patterson can provide the team the spark it needs to be a potent offense. It’s a challenge he’s taking on and one that he hopes to make good on as the Vikings transition away from a Peterson-dominated offense.
Asked if he wants to get the ball more, Patterson said the defensive attention he gets will dictate how incorporated into the offense he becomes. Does he want the ball? Yes. Does he understand forcing it into double coverage isn’t the answer? That would also be yes.
“It’s hard to say,” Patterson said of getting more targets in the passing game. “Of course each one of us want it, but when you’re number’s called, you just got to go out and bust your tail and just make the best out of it.”