@MasterStrib Is Patterson a legit, consistent big-play threat or will he be an erratic hit-or-miss type player? #VikingsST
— Anthony Reda (@anthonyjreda) September 11, 2014
Though he’s only in his second season, Patterson is a legitimate big play threat when the ball is in his hands. Patterson has scored a touchdown in his last six games dating back to last season, including the 67-yard touchdown run against the Rams on Sunday. He’s got incredible vision when he’s out in open space. Just look at his previous five touchdowns to end last season:
Week 13: 33-yard run against the Bears
Week 14: 79-yard bubble screen against the Ravens
Week 15: 5-yard catch against the Eagles
Week 16: 35-yard run against the Bengals
Week 17: 50-yard run against the Lions
None of these touchdowns are 15-yard routes that Patterson’s breaking for big gains, though he has improved as a route runner. Patterson is a threat in the end zone, the backfield and on screens because of his height, speed, vision and elusiveness. It’s why he says it often – give him the ball and watch him make a play. He says it often because it’s true. Patterson is a playmaker.
@MasterStrib has the defense improved that much or was it down to the Rams poor offense? #VikingsST
— Barry Bolton (@rhinos69) September 10, 2014
That’s still difficult to process after just one game. But in that one game, the Vikings defense looked better than anything we saw last season. If that was a product of facing an offense with Shaun Hill at quarterback remains to be seen, but the Vikings were able to stop running back Zac Stacy and bring pressure on pass situations. They’ve already surpassed their win total on the road from last season, and it’s really all due to their defense.
Cornerback Josh Robinson had two plays, a third down stop that resulted in a missed field goal that the Vikings eventually scored three points on and an interception right before the first half, that helped produced 10 points. Safety Harrison Smith also returned an interception for a touchdown. It’s the biggest thing I took away from the game when the defense can contribute to half the points scored in that manner.
We’ll have a better understanding of where the defense stands over the next two weeks facing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Saints quarterback Drew Brees. It was a good game, but it’s only one game.
@MasterStrib @ArifHasanNFL oops my bad, 1more Zimmer today stated team + scheme is in infancy of development. Does it take 1 yr? #vikingsST
— Matt Holmes (@MattHolmes2) September 11, 2014
It depends on the situation and the personnel inherited and obtained. The Vikings did a good job in the offseason identifying players that fit head coach Mike Zimmer’s scheme, especially the acquisition of nose tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and re-signing defensive end Everson Griffen.I’ll be completely honest here by saying I didn’t expect rookie linebacker Anthony Barr to make an immediate impact when he was drafted. I don’t want to overreact, but based off what we’ve seen in training camp, preseason and now Week 1, he looks like the face of this Vikings defense down the road. Barr embodies that aggressive style Zimmer likes, and it was a treat just to watch him in pursuit on plays.
Even with some of the pieces the Vikings have, everything is still new to them at this point. It could take a year, could take two years, but I think by Year 3 the defense should be capable of functioning to the highest expectations Zimmer has if the front office continues to build on the pieces in place.
Using Zimmer’s tenure as a defensive coordinator with the Cowboys as an example, head coach Bill Parcells waited until his third season in Dallas to switch to a 3-4 defense because the team had enough pieces to make the transition. I’m not saying Zimmer will follow suit with the same plan in Minnesota, but developing a scheme to produce a consistent defense takes time.
@MasterStrib @VikingsCorner Do you think the Vikings are interested in Champ Bailey? #VikingsST
— Colin Nelson (@ColinNelson79) September 11, 2014
This isn’t the Champ Bailey you’re thinking of anymore. That guy is in the history books. You can go ahead and temporarily remove that perception, just for a brief period, until Bailey retires and eventually gets into the Hall of Fame. Bailey’s prime is in the rear-view mirror and doesn’t look closer than it appears.
While there are depth issues at the position, especially if Xavier Rhodes (groin) can’t play on Sunday, Bailey played five games last season in Denver and dealt with a foot injury during training camp with the Saints before he was cut. I’m not sure how a 36-year old cornerback that can’t stay healthy and has never played under Zimmer would be a good fit for the Vikings.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has gotten a chance to look at Mike Zimmer’s defense, and while he says these Vikings look a little different than Zimmer’s Bengals, he still sees a formidable unit.
“It’s taken on a little bit different style, as it always does when you have different players,” Brady said on a conference call with Vikings reporters. “So he’s going to play to their strengths as players. That’s what makes him such a great coach. He’s got a great scheme. The guys really seemed to have learned it. I mean, they haven’t lost a game, including the preseason, all year.”
Brady and the Patriots have watched the game tape from the Vikings’ win over the Rams in Week 1, in addition to their four preseason games. They’ve also dusted off some of the tape from when Zimmer coached the Bengals defense. The Patriots and the Bengals met twice from 2010 and 2013.
The most recent meeting between the two AFC teams was last October, when the Bengals halted Brady’s touchdown streak in a 13-6 win. Brady was sacked four times, threw an interception and completed just 47.4 percent of his passes. The Patriots were 1-for-12 on third down.
“We struggled. We struggled all day,” he said. “We couldn’t do much on early downs which led to a lot of third-and-longs. Against a good defense, you’re not going to be very successful in the NFL.”
Brady praised the Vikings defense at every level, which is to be expected on these conference calls, especially when it’s a Patriots player. But I think he meant it when he said he expects the Vikings — with a talented defensive front and Zimmer’s blitz package — to give him little time to scan the field.
“They’ve got a great defense, so we’re going to have to be a lot better than we were last week,” Brady said, referring to his team’s sloppy 33-20 loss to the Dolphins over the weekend.
During last year’s NFL draft, the Vikings, hot and heavy for Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, traded four picks to the New England Patriots to trade back into the first round for him.
A year later, with the teams meeting on Sunday, it looks like the deal worked out for both sides.
The Vikings are thrilled with Patterson, who is on the verge of stardom if he isn’t there already.
New England, meanwhile, took versatile linebacker Jamie Collins with Minnesota’s 52nd overall pick, cornerback Logan Ryan with the 83rd and wide receiver Josh Boyce with the 102nd. They traded the 229th overall pick for running back LeGarrette Blount, who was effective in one season there.
While the Patriots could still probably use a big-play threat on the outside — they hope wide-out Aaron Dobson may one day become that — head coach Bill Belichick said during this morning’s conference call that he had no regrets on passing on Patterson to trade down for more picks.
“We made the decision based on what we felt was best for our team,” he said. “That’s what we always do. We felt like at that time it would be the best thing for our team, and that’s what we did.”
So would the Patriots have drafted Patterson at No. 29 overall had the Vikings not come calling?
“I don’t know. We didn’t hold onto it, so,” he said. “There were a lot of good players at that point. We feel we got one with the player we picked plus the other selections we received in moving back.”