Spielman: Football is important to Patterson

Rick Spielman offered a few reasons why 2014 was a disappointment for Cordarrelle Patterson, but he believes Patterson wants to improve.

A year ago, during the 2014 offseason, many people – both fans and members of the media – were predicting that Cordarrelle Patterson was going to have a breakout year during the 2014 season. After catching 33 passes for 384 yards and a touchdown and running the ball 10 times for 117 yards and a touchdown, it was clear that did not happen.

While Patterson continued to struggle throughout the course of the season, many people tried to figure out the cause. Some pointed toward his inexperience at the receiver position while others noted that he has not had any consistency in an offensive system, and then there was the theory that he just didn’t care about improving his game.

In the locker room, the appearance was that he wasn’t bothered by much. Coaches would say that he really does care and works hard and that the laid-back nature he portrays is just his personality and it doesn’t reflect on whether or not he wants to improve.

Members of the media had the opportunity to sit down with Vikings general manager Rick Spielman to discuss multiple subjects. One of the topics was Patterson, and Spielman continues to say what the coaching staff has been saying all season: Patterson wants to get better.

“I think Cordarrelle does want to be a good football player in the NFL,” Spielman said. “I think football is very important to him and being a good player is important to him.

“I think that Cordarrelle has all the physical tools there to be a top-flight receiver in this league … And we’ll do everything we can, and our coaches will do everything they can to develop him. But he has to get there. I think it’s very important to him, that he wants to get there.”

But there is a process to the progress.

Spielman, like several others, has talked about Patterson being with a Division I college program (Tennessee) for only one year before coming to the NFL. Then it was a year in Bill Musgrave’s offensive system and last year in Norv Turner’s system.

Spielman called Patterson a “unique talent from an athletic standpoint. I think he’s a unique talent with the ball in his hand.” But the learning curve has been steep.

“Hopefully some continuity from that standpoint will help him. And then it’s him understanding the nuances of what it is to be a receiver,” Spielman said. “Specifically, I think we talked about just the route-running ability. The quarterbacks have to trust that if you’re supposed to run what we call a little hitch route outside – you go up to 9 yards and come back 7, don’t cut it off at 7 and come back at 5. It’s just those little nuances of what is to learning to play the position.”

Multiple people in the Vikings organization, both players and coaches, have reached out to Patterson and said they want to help him. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater wants him and the other receivers to come visit him down in Miami during the offseason so they can get in some extra work. Receiver Greg Jennings said he would like to sit down with Patterson for an honest assessment on film review. And head coach Mike Zimmer has said that he has a person in mind he hopes can be a mentor for Patterson – it is just up to Patterson to meet with them.

There hasn’t been much elaboration about who this person is, or when the two of them are expected to meet up with one another, and things weren’t made any clearer during the meeting with Spielman.

“There’s a point, and I don’t want to get into specifics on what the plan is or what the date is and all that stuff, but there will be a plan in place,” he said. “But I won’t get into any more specifics.”

One thing that Spielman was open to sharing, however, is the fact that the Vikings are not afraid to pursue more talent at the receiver position. They believe that Patterson has the physical tools to be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL, but at the same time they want to surround their young quarterback with talent, and hope that competition makes everyone better.

“I think when you go into this offseason planning and the coaches talk and say, ‘Yeah, I think this guy will develop to here or develop to there.’ But we’re always going to go out and get the best players regardless of who we have and try to create as much competition as we can because you know we’re only going to get better,” Spielman said.

“I think if you look at it, there’s no question you have to play defense in this league and you have to have a running game, but I think if you look at the playoff teams, they’re pretty stable at (wide receiver). I think Teddy (Bridgewater) will be that type of player to stabilize us at that position as he continues to grow. He’s got to continue to develop as well.”

Whether or not Patterson can turn things around during the 2015 season or not will not been seen for nine more months. He will need to work hard in the offseason so he can come into offseason practices ready to compete because the Vikings want to put their best products on the field – whether that be with Patterson or someone else.

For now, all Spielman had to say about Patterson in the offseason and moving forward is that “there’s a plan in place.”

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