Archive for the ‘Cordarrelle Patterson’ Category

Going into this season, lots of experts thought of them as one known quantity (Adrian Peterson) and lots of unknowns. While it’s foolish to make bold predications based on just one game, there are some things that’ve clearly changed for the Vikings, starting with their defense.

Everson Griffen replaced Jared Allen at right defensive end. Anthony Barr starts at the strongside linebacker, which allowed rookie head coach to move Chad Greenway to middle linebacker. Perhaps the most glaring difference compared with last year’s defense is the secondary.

Captain Munnerlyn was all over the field. Most impressive was his sure-handed tackling in the open field, although his coverage was pretty impressive, too. Josh Robinson had a difficult pre-season, missing time with injuries. Today, he got the Vikings’ first takeaway just before the half. Norv Turner’s offense quickly turned that interception into a spirit-killing touchdown with seconds left in the first half.

With a 13-0 halftime lead, the Vikings defense pinned their ears back and pressured the QB. For the game, the Vikings finished with 5 sacks, with Griffen leading the way with 2, and 2 interceptions. Harrison Smith picked off a pass that never should’ve been thrown, returning it for an 81-yard pick-six touchdown.

It’s hard telling whether the Vikings shut down a great offense of if St. Louis is mediocre offensively. I suspect it’s a little of both.

The Rams offense hasn’t produced during the Jeff Fisher era. Still, the Vikings did a bunch of things right today that they have a right to feel good about. They essentially shut down Tavon Austin, the 8th overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Speaking of the 2013 draft, the Vikings got major contributions from 2 of their picks from that draft. Cordarrelle Patterson broke the game open with an electric 67-yard broken-field run. Turner lined CP up in the backfield on the play. After taking a pitch, he cut up field, breaking free 10 yards down the field. Once in the open field, he deployed the skills that make him the most feared kickoff returner in the game.

Going into the 2013 draft, the buzz was all about Tavon Austin. Cordarrelle Patterson was essentially an afterthought. Today, Patterson showed why that was a huge mistake.

Sharrif Floyd, the 23rd pick in the draft that year, also played well. He was an integral part of the Vikings dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

Matt Cassel was an efficient 17-for-25 for 170 yards with 2 touchdown passes, the first to Greg Jennings, the other to Kyle Rudolph.

It’d be a mistake not to credit the Vikings offensive line for playing a solid game. The Rams entered the game with one of the best defensive lines in football. Still, they weren’t much of a factor. When a journeyman QB finishes with a QB rating of 113.8 and the Rams give up 180+ yards rushing, that’s getting manhandled.

One last thing to talk about is how fundamentally sound the Vikings defense played. The Vikings’ tackling was solid. They pressured the Rams’ QBs all day. The Vikings secondary was opportunistic at times, but solid throughout.

Today’s game is a great start to Mike Zimmer’s head coaching career. Next week, though, they get to face the Patriots, who are coming off a stunning 33-20 defeat in Miami. Brady and the Patriots aren’t likely to be in a good mood so that’ll be a good test for the Vikings.

UPDATE: I went back to the Vikings-Rams stat sheet because I got to thinking about how little I noticed Robert Quinn. My memory served me well this time. Quinn finished with just 2 tackles and no sacks. This ties into how well the Vikings O-line played. Jeff Davidson, the Vikings’ O-line coach, must be pleased with their play.

For the game, the Rams much-celebrated defensive line got a grand total of 1 sack while giving up over 180 yards rushing.

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Blogging has been light the last few days because I watched (obsessed over?) the NFL Draft. I’ll admit that I’m a homer. That doesn’t mean I’ll just blindly trust that GM Rick Spielman and Coach Zimmer picked players that they couldn’t believe were still there. Still, Spielman has built some trust with his last 3 drafts.

Let’s see what others are saying about the Vikings picks, starting with LB Anthony Barr:

“He’s only been a defensive end for two years. He needs experience. When you watch the tape, does he look like Jason Taylor or what? There’s a lot of upside, and (new head coach) Mike Zimmer and his staff will get it out of him.” — Mike Mayock

Barr started his time at UCLA as a running back. The fact that he was a feared pass rusher the last 2 years tells me he’s got great natural talent but that he’ll become a great player with Zimmer’s coaching. NOTEWORTHY: Anyone that’s 6’5″ and runs a 4.6 forty is a freakish athlete.

Teddy Bridgewater:

“That (pro day) workout is something I’ve been fighting for a couple months now. His pro day didn’t confirm what I saw on the game tape. But he needs to get stronger. Bridgewater has the intangibles; he’s smart.” — Mike Mayock

Bill Polian, the guy who drafted Peyton Manning said that Bridgewater a) was excellent at manipulating safeties with his eyes” and that he was excellent with his pre-snap reads. Those statements tell me that Bridgewater a) is willing to work hard to be the leader of the offense and b) has the smarts to be a top quality QB. Finally, Bridgwater’s character is off the charts outstanding.

David Yankey:

“This is a great fit for the Vikings. They believe in physical players and Yankey is a phone booth brawler. Trust me, I know (Vikings general manager) Rick Spielman and (head coach) Mike Zimmer, and this is the kind of player they bang the table for.” — Mike Mayock

Simply put, Yankey, barring injury, will be the starting left guard for the Vikings by midseason. He’s a Stanford kid so he’s smart. He’s physical and he’s played every position on the line except center. That they got him in the fifth round screams exceptional value.

Antone Exum:

“Exum is a well-built individual, and showed good fluidity in pass coverage and also an ability to track the ball well. Exum was a highly regarded player two years ago, but suffered a knee injury playing basketball in January of 2013. Exum came back to play in the 2013 season, but only played in three games and did not play at the same level as the previous season.” — Gil Brandt

Exum played the side opposite Chicago first round pick Kyle Fuller when healthy. He’s considered to have great versatility because he can play in the slot in nickel packages or play safety. The other thing that’s worth noting is that he isn’t afraid to hit people in run support.

The Vikings did a great job the last day of the draft. Exum and Yankey are excellent examples of that but they aren’t the only examples of how Spielman worked the draft for maximum value:

Shamar Stephen:


Terrific size. Very athletic for a big man. Generally plays on his feet. Occupies blocks. Flashes the ability to lock out and reestablish the line of scrimmage. Has raw tools to work with. Scheme versatile. Solid personal and football character.
Draft Projection: Round 3

Anytime a team picks up a third round talent at a position needing depth in the 7th round, that’s an outstanding value pick. While it’s impossible seeing him beating out Vikings NT Linval Joseph, it’s easy to see him providing much-needed quality depth at the position.

Brandon Watts, OLB Georgia Tech:

Rare timed speed. Very quick to the perimeter and covers a lot of ground. Easily keeps stride with tight ends in the slot and offers solid man-coverage ability on backs. Can carry receivers vertically and buzz the flats. Lines up on the edge and offers some pass-rush potential. Is fluid and loose-hipped dropping into coverage.

If Watts makes the Vikings, it’ll be because he impressed on special teams. Still, this is a worthwhile pick because it’s a last round pick spent on a player who has the physical tools to work with.

Various websites have given the Vikings high grades for this draft class. They certainly sent a message to the NFC North QBs that they’d better prepare to get hit often under Mike Zimmer. They also solved their QB problems with Bridgewater. Finally, they stockpiled talent for their secondary in the 6th and 7th rounds, thanks in large part to the outstanding depth in this draft.

Let’s remember that Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman were fifth round picks for Seattle in years that weren’t half as deep as this year’s draft.

This draft, combined with the players the Vikings have picked in the first round in 2012 and 2013, will help the Vikings compete for the NFC North championship within 2 years. Let’s remember that Spielman picked franchise left tackle Matt Kalil and cornerstone safety Harrison Smith in the first round in 2012 before picking DT Sharrif Floyd, CB Xavier Rhodes and WR/KR extraordinaire Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round last year.

Now that the NFL season is down to the Super Bowl, the offseason has arrived for the other 30 teams. A major part of the NFL offseason, if there is such a thing anymore, is Senior Bowl week. The past few years, scouting was best broken down into sections, starting with the college football season, followed by the minor bowls, followed by the BCS games. Next up after that is the Blue-Gray Game, the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL, the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, IN, then the top prospects’ pro days at their college. This Saturday, they’ll play the Senior Bowl.

In addition to scouts descending on Mobile, lots of people who cover the draft converge to watch the workouts and report on who’s creating positive buzz for themselves. One of the people covering the Senior Bowl, as he’s done for years, is Scott Wright of Follow this link to read Scott’s daily reports from the practices. They’re some of the best in the business. Scott does a daily podcast from Mobile, too.

Thus far, Scott’s reported that Derek Carr, the top QB at the game, has stood out during the South squad’s practices and that Ra’Shede Hageman of the University of Minnesota has stood out defensively for the North squad. The reason I mention these players is because the Vikings need a new QB, just like they need to start restocking the talent on their defensive line. While it’s unlikely that they could get both of these players, rest assured that new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will be paying extra attention to these players this week.

Another sportswriter who’s covering the Senior Bowl is’s Mike Wobschall. Follow this link to read Mike’s reporting from Mobile. Hint: Carr has stood out for Mr. Wobschall, too.

Finally, the Vikings are perfectly positioned for a quick turnaround. Whether that happens still remains to be seen. Still, they’ve got high draft picks in each round of the draft, plus a third round pick they got in the Percy Harvin trade with the Seahawks. Couple that with GM Rick Spielman’s stellar draft record recently and there’s reason for optimism for Vikings fans. (Yes, he made a mistake with Christian Ponder but he’s more than made up for that since by drafting Pro Bowl LT Matt Kalil, FS Harrison Smith, and Pro Bowl PK Blair Walsh in the 2012 draft, followed by drafting Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and KR/WR extraordinare Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round of last year’s draft.

Other standouts from the Spielman draft classes include former Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph, DEs Brian Robison and Everson Griffen and RB Toby Gerhart. While it’s true that Griffen and Gerhart are eligible to become free agents this year, there’s no denying the fact that they’re top talents that Spielman found the last day of the draft.

That’s what separates good drafts from great drafts.

If you’re a football fanatic like I am, you won’t want to miss Scott’s and Mike’s reporting from Mobile.

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Sunday afternoon, the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Detroit Lions in the final game in Metrodome history. In a game that only meant something in terms of draft positioning and, possibly, the head coaches’ fate, Cordarrelle Patterson stole the show, scoring a pair of touchdowns. Patterson’s first touchdown came after he chose not to throw a wide receiver option pass, instead finding his way through the Detroit Lions’ defense for a 50-yard TD run. Patterson’s other touchdown was the game winner in the fourth quarter. It came on a back shoulder throw from Matt Cassel with just under 10 minutes left in the game.

It was a fitting game for the Metrodome’s finale because the Metrodome wasn’t a great sporting venue. People have great memories of the Metrodome because of the events, not the facility.

What’s memorable about today’s game was that Cordarrelle Patterson’s play today told defensive coordinators across the NFL that they’d better know where he’s at on every play. Simply put, he’s the bigger-and-faster version of Percy Harvin. That and he doesn’t have Percy’s migraines.

Matt Asiata, who started in place of Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, rushed for 115 yards on just 14 carries. Should Gerhart leave after the season as a free agent, Asiata seems like a more-than-adequate back-up for Adrian Peterson.

Another bright spot for the Vikings was TE Chase Ford. Ford’s play might’ve pushed Litchfield’s John Carlson off the Vikings roster. Carlson has battled injuries throughout his career. He signed an expensive contract 2 years ago, coming from Seattle through free agency. The Vikings might just cut him and free up cap space to shore up other positions of need.

Today was likely the last games in a Vikings uniform for Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Erin Henderson, Charlie Johnson, Chris Cook, Toby Gerhart and possibly Eversen Griffin.

Jay Glazer is reporting that Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier will be fired Monday morning:

Frazier will be fired as the Vikings’ head coach Monday, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports. Frazier is in his fourth year as the head man in Minnesota, after taking over on an interim basis in Week 11 in 2010. He led the Vikings to a 3-3 finish that season before receiving the job full time.

That’s bittersweet news. In his 3 full seasons, Frazier’s records have been 5-10-1, 10-6 and 3-13. Winning 18 of 48 games means winning less than 40% of the games he coached. That said, though, razier’s players played hard most of the time. Unfortunately, NFL head coaches aren’t judged by whether they’re men of integrity or whether their players play hard. NFL head coaches are judged on wins and losses.

That’s why the Metrodome’s finale was likely Leslie Frazier’s Vikings finale.

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Today’s Vikings-Cincinnati game wasn’t as much a contest as it was a pummeling. Cincinnati looked like a formidable team capable of making a strong playoff push from the start. Meanwhile, the Vikings looked like a team that can’t wait for the Leslie Frazier era, and the season, to be over.

If there was any doubt that the Vikings need a major overhaul this offseason, this game put that question to rest almost instantly. On the game’s first series, Matt Cassel fumbled. Cincinnati returned the fumble to the Vikings 4 yard line, where the Bengals scored 2 plays later. Cassel is the best of the Vikings QBs, which says everything about the state of the Vikings’ QB situation.

Of the impending free agents on the defensive line, only Eversen Griffin is worth bringing back. Jared Allen will want too much for the production he’s got left. KWill has been a stud but he’s getting to the end of his career. Letroy Guion and Fred Evans never were productive players. That’s why it was a gift to have Sharif Floyd drop into the Vikings’ lap last year.

Of the linebackers, Chad Greenway is the only player on the roster who’s worth bringing back. Erratic is the kindest adjective for Erin Henderson’s play this year. Worthless might be the most accurate adjective for Henderson’s play.

In the secondary, you’ve got 2 players you can absolutely build around. Safety Harrison Smith is someone to build around, as is corner Xavier Rhodes. Josh Robinson needs to be moved outside, which is his natural position. He clearly isn’t a fit as the nickel. He’s fast, athletic and young. It’s too early to give up on a player like that.

As far as who should be the Vikings next coach, Paul Charchian threw out a name during the Vikings’ Postgame Show on Fox9 that I think is worth looking into: Ken Whisenhunt. He’s coached on 2 Super Bowl teams, which is amazing considering one of those teams was the Arizona Cardinals.

Prior to the Whisenhunt era, I’d argue that the Cardinals were the Chicago Cubs of the NFL. The Bidwill family was the cheapest family in the NFL by far. The joke at league meetings was that the way to make copper wire was to try pulling a penny from Bill Bidwill’s fingers.

Despite the Bidwills’ cheapskate ways, Whisenhunt won. The first thing he did in Arizona was resurrect Kurt Warner’s career. After getting fired in Arizona, San Diego hired him. Now Philip Rivers’ once-dead career is showing signs again.

If you want to strengthen the Vikings quickly, one way is to trade a third-round pick to the Redskins in exchange for Kirk Cousins. The Vikings have Seattle’s third rounder so they can afford trading one of their picks. With Cousins in place to become the Vikings’ QB, the Vikings could then use their first round pick to get a linebacker like UCLA’s Anthony Barr or a dominant NT like Notre Dame’s Louis Nix. At least the Vikings will have started rebuilding 2 defensive units that badly need rebuilding.

The Vikings should keep Rick Spielman as GM, though. It’s true that he drafted Christian Ponder, which is a strike against him. That being said, he also drafted Adrian Peterson, Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, Sharif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph and DEs Eversen Griffen and Brian Robison. He’s also drafted Pro Bowl placekicker Blair Walsh and punter Jeff Locke. In short, he’s done more than enough to earn his return.

The Vikings offseason unofficially started today. The coaching staff shouldn’t return, with the exception of George Stewart. Rick Spielman and the scouts need another strong draft to turn this team around.

One of my favorite Vikings writers is Mike Wobschall. His Monday Morning Mailbag report is essential reading for all Vikings fanatics. For quite awhile, there’s been a debate raging amongst Vikings fans on whether to win as many games as possible each year or whether to tank and get a franchise QB. This Q & A from this morning’s MMMB tees things up perfectly:

Q: After a rough start to the year, I was hoping to get the best draft picks, which unfortunately means losing. Watching the way we are playing right now, it is impossible to hope for losses. Adrian Peterson’s strong finish last week that willed us to that win set the tone for everyone in the organization. It was also great to see Matt Cassel’s fire and leadership today, as well as improved secondary play. You can’t help but love the team dynamic that is showing up this late in the season, despite a tough year. Skol Vikes. — Zach S.

A: One thing to consider on the topic of losing draft positioning with wins in a “lost season” is that when you win games it means certain and various aspects of your team are performing well. Most likely, and in the Vikings case this season, those aspects that play well and thus help yield wins are going to be core members of the team in future years. You have to balance the value of having slightly higher picks with additional losses against having slightly worse picks with a few extra wins.

I’ll take the wins every time, no questions asked.

This is where I disagree with Mike Wobschall from a theoretical standpoint. After yesterday’s games, the Vikings likely won’t get a Top-3 pick, which is what’s needed to get a franchise QB or South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney.

Yesterday, Matt Cassel played ok for the first three quarters before lighting things up in the 4th quarter. He has an opt-out clause in his contract, which would allow him to become a free agent after the end of this season. I have nothing against Cassel. It’s just clear that he isn’t a long-term solution to the Vikings’ QB problems.

There’s nothing wrong with losing lots of games one season so you can get that long-term solution at QB. From a tactical standpoint, it’s saying ‘We won’t win this year but we’re setting ourselves up for Super Bowl runs for a decade.’ That isn’t surrender. It’s a tactical retreat to regroup and restock.

The Vikings did that two seasons ago. Their reward was drafting Matt Kalil with the 4th overall pick, then using the pick they got from Cleveland to trade back into the first round and drafting Harrison Smith. They’re Vikings cornerstones for the next decade, with Kalil anchoring the offensive line and Smith co-anchoring the secondary with Xavier Rhodes for the next 8-10 years.

Getting a franchise QB would be huge, especially in light of Cordarrelle Patterson’s monster game yesterday. CP, as his teammates call him, is a total beast. He’s big, athletic, fast and willing to dish out punishment to defensive backs. With a franchise QB, they could become annual threats to win a Super Bowl championship.

One QB who hasn’t attracted much attention is San Jose State quarterback David Fales. CBSSports’ Rob Rang sang his praises in this article.

The Vikings will surely finish with a top-10 pick. That might be enough to get Fales, a QB that Rang describes as being able to make all the throws, is accurate, has good touch and awarenesss.

One thing that Mr. Wobschall and I agree on is that Rick Spielman is the right man making the draft day decisions. In the last 2 drafts, Spielman has picked 6 Pro Bowl-caliber players in Kalil, Harrison Smith, Blair Walsh, Sharif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Spielman has put some impressive pieces of a championship puzzle together on this team. What they need is a QB who doesn’t just manage games but a QB who wins games by putting the team on his back. That certainly isn’t Christian Ponder. Long-term, that isn’t Matt Cassel. Long-term, the solution might be David Fales.

Finally, the Vikings need a new head coach. As much as I respect Leslie Frazier as a man of integrity, he isn’t the man to put a championship-caliber system together.

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