He will have that chance, as head coach Mike Zimmer has talked with someone he trusts about working with Patterson in the offseason, although Zimmer wouldn’t reveal who that is.
“He’s somebody that I trust, somebody that I think would be a great influence for him and I’m not going to talk about who it is, but that’s part of the thing that I said last week about I have a plan for him,” Zimmer said. “But we’re not allowed to coach him (during players’ time off). So that’s partly why it’s up to him. But I think this will be good for him and hopefully he’ll follow through and get to where he needs to get to.”
Zimmer said after Sunday’s season finale that it would be up to Patterson to improve and live up to his potential.
On Monday, Patterson admitted his second season was a disappointment.
“It wasn’t the year I wanted, like I had last year,” he said. “I feel like last year was a good year for me and I felt like I was going to come back and capitalize off that. Week 1, you know, things was good. But after that, it just started going downhill. I blame myself for everything. I need to just take full advantage of the offseason and get better.”
As a rookie, Patterson never played more than half the offensive snaps in any game until Week 10 but still ended up with 45 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns. This year was almost the opposite, as the coaching staff allowed Patterson to start the season as a starter but eventually grew tired of his inconsistencies as a receiver and supplanted him in the starting lineup with a former seventh-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers, Charles Johnson.
This year, Patterson was the starter and played in more than half the offensive snaps through the first 10 weeks of the season before his opportunities dissipated quickly. In Weeks 13 through 17, he never played double-digit snaps.
In 2014, Patterson’s production took a step back, rather than forward, from his rookie season. He ended with 33 catches for 384 yards and only one touchdown.
“I’ve always been a guy who’s just been a playmaker each and every year, and coming into the league it’s a lot of challenges, so I’ve just got to be that full, complete receiver,” Patterson said. “Some people probably don’t think I’m a receiver and all that stuff. Some people just think I’m just a playmaker, so you’ve got to prove people wrong each and every day you wake up.”
Zimmer continued to support Patterson and his potential, but it’s clear the trust factor on the field eroded over the course of the season.
Patterson acknowledged the person Zimmer had picked for him could help him learn Norv Turner’s offense, and Zimmer indicated the plan was more for Patterson’s maturation in the offense rather than off the field.
“He’s really a good kid. He’s very respectful in everything he does,” Zimmer said of Patterson. “It’s not really about life, although I’m sure this guy will teach him some about life, too. It’s more about playing, being a receiver.”
“Teddy is the quarterback,” Zimmer said. “There’s no doubt in my mind he’s the quarterback to run this team.”
“I don’t anticipate any, but there’s always a possibility that things could change,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good coaching staff here and I’ll sit down with them this week and talk about … a lot of it, honestly, it’s about, do they want to be here? It’s about the relationship between us and going forward and some guys who might not be able to work things out contractually. But, overall, I anticipate most of them will be back.”
“In a lot of ways it’s moving in that direction as far as developing the mindset,” Zimmer said. “It’s developing the mental toughness, all the things really that I said in the first press conference I ever had. I don’t believe we’re there yet. I believe there’s still a lot of preaching, a lot of sweat and pushing that I have to make sure I continue to do, but I do feel like the players for the most part feel the program is going in the right direction.”
“I know that myself, Rick (Spielman), scouts, the coaches are committed to turning every rock possible to keep working on an acquisition of talent,” Zimmer said. “… We’re going to work diligently on trying to improve this football team the very best we can. And I’m not just talking about personnel. I’m talking about schemes; I’m talking about everything that we can do.”