Since their quarterback went downhill and Adrian Peterson broke out as the best running back in the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings have been one of the few run first offenses in the league. Because the team has heavily relied on Peterson in the past and this season, it has led to only a limited amount of passing attempts from the quarterback position. With limited passing attempts, that also means limited receptions for receivers, which doesn’t bode well for one of the team’s three first-round picks, Cordarrelle Patterson.
Patterson has shown his big playmaking ability in both the return and pass game this season, but with the outstanding play of both Jerome Simpson and Greg Jennings this season, it will be hard for Patterson to receive more playing time. The Vikings have completed just 87 passes this season between Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel, and with Jennings and Simpson doing the most with their 33 combined receptions, there is no reason for the quarterback to look elsewhere. Kyle Rudolph has, and will, remain a crucial part of the pass game for the Vikings as well, which will affect the amount of targets Patterson receives when he happens to find some playing time.
Patterson has just six receptions on the year, which is third among the team’s receivers, and on a run first team, it isn’t surprising that his reception count has been so low. The Vikings will likely be implementing Josh Freeman into the pass game against the New York Giants in Week 7, meaning there could be some changes coming to the offense which could benefit Patterson this season, but most likely will not.
With Bill Musgrave still running a conservative offense, despite the success of the team’s receivers when they get their hands on the ball, I wouldn’t expect too drastic a change in the offensive game plan when Freeman becomes the starter. Hopefully the team will begin taking more shots down field, as that is where Patterson could get some targets, but with the great hands Jennings has flashed through four games, it is understandable why he is the team’s top receiver.
After dissapointing on the field last season, Simpson has come out of the gate hot this year, as he has solidified himself as the deserving No. 2 receiver on the team with 19 catches for 342 yards in just four games played. Simpson has yet to record a touchdown this season, but with the team relying on Peterson while in the red zone, it is understandable why they only have four passing touchdowns on the season.
Simply put, the Vikings’ offense just doesn’t throw the ball enough to give Patterson the targets he deserves. Patterson has shown the ability to turn a screen play into a 10-yard gain, as well as run through arm tackles quite easily, but as long as the Vikings remain a run first team with Jennings and Simpson shining, it will be nearly impossible for Patterson to be a consistent contributor in the pass game.