Cordarrelle Patterson is entering the NFL's offseason in a much different light than he did following his rookie campaign in 2013.
As a rookie, Patterson was named to the Pro Bowl as a kick returner. The dynamic playmaker closed the 2013 season with six touchdowns in the final five games, three of them rushing and three more receiving. It was the perfect momentum into his first offseason to basically eliminate the idea of a sophomore slump.
But that's exactly what the Vikings got in year two with Patterson. A sophomore slump that resulted in a pedestrian 33 receptions for 384 yards and only two total touchdowns. He wasn't nearly as dangerous as a kick returner, either.
His slump came to an end, along with the season, in Minnesota's 13-9 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Patterson was given a chance to play when Jarius Wright went down with a back injury, but a dropped pass that led to an interception was the last offensive snap Patterson would play. Head coach Mike Zimmer benched him.
“It wasn’t the year I wanted, like I had last year,” Patterson said Monday, the Star Tribune reports. “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.”
Zimmer is now tasked with finding ways to make Patterson the dynamic threat he was as a rookie.
“I’ve got a plan for this offseason for him, and hopefully it works,” Zimmer said after the game Sunday, according to the Star Tribune. “But it’s going to be up to Cordarrelle. I’ll leave it at that.”
Patterson's demoralizing season was summed up bluntly by Jim Souhan, who noted that Patterson lost his starting job and playing time to Charles Johnson, a seventh-round draft pick, and Detroit Lakes native Adam Thielen, who went undrafted. In Patterson's case, superior athleticism didn't prove to be enough.
Veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings, who led the Vikings in receiving this season, won't allow Patterson to "fail," the Pioneer Press reports.
"I want him to see himself on film because he does a lot of things great, but there's some things that he has to tweak in his game to allow him to be the player he has expectations of being," Jennings said. "That's a big part of this game, being able to mentally overcome a season like this. It's going to be a challenge. We're going to see if he has the resolve. I believe he does, but it's up to him to show the resolve and to bounce back."
Patterson's future is in his own hands, but he has good help by his side. As ESPN's Ben Goessling put it:
"Right now, Patterson has a general manager who spent three draft picks to get him, an offensive coordinator who worked with Michael Irvin, a receivers coach who worked with Jerry Rice and a teammate who's played with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. He wants to be in Minnesota, Jennings said, and he should; the Vikings have the wherewithal, and the intent, to help Patterson flourish."
Year three for Patterson is just around the corner.