Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.

Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.

Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Will Cordarrelle Patterson be the next Josh Gordon?

Posted by: Matt Vensel under Vikings Updated: April 21, 2014 - 12:16 PM

The first thing that new Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner did after taking the job, according to general manager Rick Spielman, was “put in 10 plays for” second-year wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson as he “was putting the X’s and O’s part of it together.”

But it will be interesting to see just how much Turner’s X’s and O’s will differ from when Bill Musgrave was scribbling the plays on a whiteboard. It’s convenient to say that Patterson will become the next Josh Gordon, but Patterson and Gordon were used much differently in 2013.

Despite a shaky quarterback situation that was not dissimilar to the one here, Gordon in his second NFL season exploded with 87 catches for a NFL-best 1,646 yards -- in 14 games, no less -- and nine touchdowns with Turner calling the plays for the Cleveland Browns. Only seven wide-outs were targeted more often.

Meanwhile, Patterson, who impressed in limited reps as a rookie, was targeted 72 times, according to Pro Football Focus, and caught 45 passes for 469 yards and four touchdowns.

Nearly two-thirds of Patterson’s targets came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, and a whopping 22 of them came on passes behind the line. Patterson caught 19 of those for 248 yards and a touchdown. He had 16 catches for 102 yards on 24 targets that were less than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. Only one of his touchdowns was caught beyond 10 yards.

Quarterback play was perhaps as big of a factor as offensive scheme. Christian Ponder had enough arm strength to make deep throws but not often the poise and the clean pocket needed to complete them, and Matt Cassel doesn’t exactly have a cannon either.

Regardless, good things happened when the Vikings got Patterson the ball as quickly as possible and let him do his thing, as I witnessed firsthand while covering the Ravens last December.

Patterson broke 10 tackles as a receiver, according to Pro Football Focus, with 286 yards after the catch. His 6.4 YAC average ranked seventh in the NFL. Gordon, by the way, was sixth.

But Gordon did most of his damage downfield in Norv Turner’s vertical passing attack. More than 55 percent of his targets came when he was 10 yards or more past the line of scrimmage, and only Torrey Smith and A.J. Green were targeted beyond 20 yards more often. With just two targets behind the line of scrimmage, Gordon was rarely utilized in the screen game.

So while both receivers liked up at the “X” receiver or “split end” position -- here’s a helpful guide on the different receiver positions -- in their respective offenses, they played much different roles (well, once Patterson started to be utilized in Musgrave’s offense, that is).

Patterson has the size and speeded needed to thrive in a vertical passing attack, so it’s going to be fun to watch him attempt to develop into an all-around receiver like Gordon. It will be also interesting to see how often Turner tries to take advantage of what Patterson already can do.


Atlanta 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Miami 5 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Nathan 6
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Cincinnati 13 FINAL
Cleveland 2
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
Chicago WSox 6
Kansas City 3 FINAL
Seattle 0
Seattle 1 FINAL
Milwaukee 15
San Diego 3 FINAL
Arizona 3
Washington 3
LA Angels 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 4
Colorado 3 FINAL
Texas 6
Oakland 6 FINAL
San Francisco 4
Indiana 107 FINAL
Milwaukee 111
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Carolina 5
New Jersey 2 FINAL(OT)
Washington 3
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 4 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 3
Anaheim 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 2
Nashville 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
NY Rangers 5 FINAL
Ottawa 1
Florida 4 FINAL
Toronto 1
Montreal 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Colorado 4 FINAL
Vancouver 1
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Notre Dame 81
North Carolina 72 FINAL
Wisconsin 79
Evansville 89 FINAL
Louisiana 82
West Virginia 39 FINAL
Kentucky 78
Xavier 60 FINAL
Arizona 68
St Johns 55 FINAL
Villanova 63
NC State 79 FINAL
Temple 80
Missouri 55 FINAL
Michigan 65
Oral Roberts 64 FINAL
Louisiana 65
Duquesne 39 FINAL
West Virginia 60
Ole Miss 70 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 82
Northern Colorado 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 77 FINAL
Sacramento St 69


question of the day

Poll: Will Major League Soccer be successful in Minnesota?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters