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Cordarrelle Patterson Didn’t Work Out with Mystery WR Coach, Says It’s Cool

According to Matt Vensel at the Star Tribune, Cordarrelle Patterson didn’t think it was important to work out with the former NFL receiver that head coach Mike Zimmer set up for him, something Patterson says Mike Zimmer didn’t mind (h/t to @VikingsLifer for pointing it out to me).

He didn’t feel it was necessary to work out with the mystery former NFL wide receiver that coach Mike Zimmer set him up with, though he said he did chat with him at the Super Bowl and that Zimmer seemed cool with that.

“I feel like this is the best spring I’ve had all throughout my years,” Patterson said. “I’m just working hard, man. I’ve been talking in the past about my work ethic and just trying to get better in my routes. I feel like I’ve improved a lot.”

So long as it’s not a big deal, it’s not a big deal. If Patterson’s right about Zimmer’s reaction, that’s probably fine—but it’s still a little frustrating to hear as a fan who saw the team make a big investment into a receiver we knew was raw coming out of Tennessee.

The trainer he worked with in the offseason is someone who is evidently very good at instilling a mental conditioning program that gives athletes the mental fortitude they need to push through a season. I’m sure Patterson needed that, and I don’t think that’s a bad investment, especially if it makes him feel more prepared for the season.

He’s also not a receivers coach with extensive experience teaching route-running. Per Vensel again, but much earlier in the year:

Matrisciano, the one-time University of Memphis basketball team’s strength and conditioning coach, is a rogue figure in the billion-dollar fitness industry. He doesn’t own a gym. He doesn’t recruit, so no website, either. Getting his phone number isn’t easy. And if you actually come out to San Francisco, he isn’t going to beg you to stay.

He has been profiled by many publications, but he has refused to be photographed, either turning his back on the camera or wearing what looks like a ninja mask.

Matrisciano has trained everyone from boxers and triathletes to SWAT teams and special ops military personnel. But he is probably best known for his work with NBA All-Stars Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph, helping to take those two to the next level on the hard court by breaking them down and then building them back up in the soft sand.

Men’s Health’s profile of him reiterates much of the same thing: it’s not designed to improve a particular skill, but evoke a specific mental state.

To me, that’s no issue—I don’t doubt Patterson could use that kind of training. The point is that it’s not the whole of what he needs to do, and his offseason training so far hasn’t mentioned much outside work with a coach to improve his route-running, his biggest problem during the season. Which is to say that mental conditioning may be necessary, but it’s not sufficient.

It’s entirely possible that he found a different receiver-specific coach to work with, but aside from the fact that his offseason workouts have been unusually well-chronicled—he worked out with the “trainer from Hell,” Matt Matrisciano, for four weeks before April team workouts, then went back to Matrisciano for the four weeks until the June minicamps—there would be ample opportunity and incentive to mention an external trainer, even working with another NFL receiver (like Larry Fitzgerald).

It might be too much to be responding to a lack of information, but it’s also surprising that—if it were the case he was working with an external trainer—that Patterson would tell a reporter he didn’t work with the trainer set up for him without mentioning an alternative.

This could also be the reason the Vikings have been so reluctant to tell us who that receiver is (the dominant rumor seems to be that it’s former New England receiver Troy Brown)—because Patterson never worked out with him, and they didn’t want to let people know that. Maybe he worked out with Brown (or whomever), but that wasn’t the receiver that Zimmer set him to work out with. Still, I doubt it.

I don’t think Patterson isn’t taking things seriously, like he likely did in the offseason between his rookie and sophomore years. I’m just not sure he understands the vast gulf in skills between what he has and what he needs. Knowing one needs to work on route-running, hands technique and separation skills is different than working with someone who specifically can correct bad habits from forming.

Consider that one may not know why one is doing something wrong because it looks right. LeCharles Bentley, offensive line coach, is excellent at demonstrating this concept:

This will help you. There’s a difference between watching yourself and studying yourself. Studying is about examining…

Posted by L.Bentley Offensive Line Performance on Thursday, July 23, 2015

Or, when one is forming bad habits without knowing it with intuitive but detrimental drills:

Pay close attention to the air pocket on the shoe. The issue with heavy OL not wearing a flat bottom or oly shoe while executing power movements/oly lifts is the air displacement at the sole. This creates an unstable surface that creates biomechanic & neurological hurdles that exposes athlete to injury. This doesn’t effect lighter athletes the way it does big guys. #TrainSmarter #Oline #OlinePerformance

Posted by L.Bentley Offensive Line Performance on Thursday, December 11, 2014

The specifics of the videos aren’t important, of course (they are for offensive linemen), just the concepts behind training with what you think you know versus training with someone who can spot subtle problems that become big problems. Training in sand is probably pretty good for generic footwork, but is it good for receiver footwork? I don’t know, but I could see it causing issues even if it increases an athlete’s generic explosiveness.

As for whether or not he’s rejecting a gift, I don’t particularly care—whether or not someone should feel offended on Zimmer’s behalf is contingent on how Zimmer actually feels, which isn’t something we know.

Being a receiver is a skill. Not all receivers have the same skills the same ways (see: Stevie Johnson), but there’s no reason to forge your own path when you admittedly aren’t a pathfinder. I hope Patterson has improved his route-running, but I’m not sure he has based on what we know (and perhaps it’s not very much) that he has—not because he doesn’t want to, but because he doesn’t know how.

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23 Comments

  1. I agree it’s disappointing he didn’t follow his coach’s advice. I do think the mental part is needed as well, however, and might need to be in place before he moves on to perfecting his craft? Even if no one has thought that’s his biggest need, maybe he does and is being proactive in conditioning mentally and physically for the riggors of an entire season.

    He hasn’t had much experience with that either. I guess I respect his willingness to share publicly he’s working on mental/work ethic stuff rather than technical stuff. The later just seems more fun to share even if he didn’t workout with the HOFer to cover up the mental part. Just seems one would want to keep that more private.

    So, whether he actually blossoms, or not, to what we think he can be, I feel he is honestly doing what he feels is needed to do. That guy (trainer guy) does sound badass. Maybe he trusts his coaches to be able to get him technically up to speed and is preparing to be able to absorb it better.

  2. Who gives a f what Arif says. He’s a joke. Laughable when he speaks like a knowledgeable football mind.

    This is about as credible as his “inside source” on the big Adrian Peterson “trade.”

    All Arif cares about is what the “journalism” industry can make him, not his knowledge for the game or the Vikings.

    1. Can you elaborate? I’m citing a report from the Star Tribune which is using words that came directly from Cordarrelle Patterson. What about it isn’t credible? If all I cared about was money, I’d be out of this long ago. I just spent $2000 of my own money to go to training camp and cover it and don’t expect to make it back over the course of camp. I wrote for two years without making a dime and am only now earning money, less than minimum wage.

      1. I don’t agree that your opinion is worthless. I think that you have done your due diligence to try to study where our team is headed and which players are following the course set by the coaches. I don’t know if this is a good path for Patterson. His techinique is what needs to be refined not his conditioning. I truly hope that he is a better player next season but it does frustrate me that he isn’t focusing on the area tha he atruggled the most in, route running. The one facet of the game that he was painfully unprepared for…

    2. @Aaron.The only thing laughable is your ridiculous rant.If you don’t agree with the article then that’s fine,but put up your reasons why so that we can debate in a rational forum.
      Your disrespect makes you look very narrow minded and jealous.

  3. For the record, Arif, I meant MY comment respectfully. Just a different take on the interpretation of his words/perceived motives.
    I respect you as a journalist and your passion, dedication, and personal sacrifice for your fandom. Regardless if I, once in awhile, disagree with your opinion which some people think you aren’t entitled to have.

    1. I know you did. I don’t have any issue with people who disagree with me (and for the most part you weren’t even doing that), I mostly have people who question my motivations and then tell people I have no desire to learn about the game or the Vikings. That’s so patently absurd.

      1. I have respected your journalism up to this point. I am curious to know whether you are truly a fan of the vikings or just a writer who has the oportunity to write for the vikings. There is quite a distinction between the two. I can tell you are a writer that delves deeply into the stats but I am more interested in whether you route for the team you are writing for or are you just writing for the franchise that hired you.

        1. Oh, definitely a fan! I started out posting comments to the Daily Norseman, then posting fanposts, and then blogging for them. A year or so after that, I started writing about the Vikings for the Bleacher Report and around the same time (unrelated) I was able to get access to events (like the draft, training camp, etc) and such.

          I started out as a fan (who became re-inspired to the fandom because of the 2009 season) and inspired to post comments because of the 2010 season, blogging starting in the offseason before 2011. I was not a fan of Cam Newton and wanted Blaine Gabbert or Andy Dalton. More than a year ago, VT asked me to come over here and I’m extremely happy with that. My hope is that I’ve grown in my ability to evaluate talent and in writing skill since that offseason.

          I was not hired by the Vikings at any point nor did I ever write about any other team (except when I was asked to cover generic NFL stuff like power rankings for a site that no longer exists—I still wrote about the Vikings throughout that time, and spent very little time on the generic NFL stuff).

          Thanks for following me.

          1. That’s all I needed to hear. Keep on keeping on! It does make a huge difference as a fan knowing that the articles are coming from a source that has a vested interest in the progress of the team. There are a couple Vikings columnists that don’t have that same perspective… Dan Zinski… Etc..

  4. Agreed. I’m sure you guys take some bad along with the good.
    On a side note, I think I remember some players in interviews say he had a hard time fighting off the line in press coverage. If this guy teaches Spec Ops he might have some hand-to-hand techniques to help battle the better CBs. Also, w/AD and Wallace (‘Governor’) he probably never see dbl coverage. If he merely gets into routes faster, his speed with make up for his lesser skills intl that area. I also think he got hurt in the first game last year and it may have been more of an issue than lead on.

  5. This is disappointing news.The fact that he refuses to spend time in the off season working on the one skill he really needs,route running,doesn’t bode well for the future.I don’t think Cordarrelle truly understands what is required to succeed at NFL level and think he will learn a harsh lesson this season.
    I am prepared to go out on a limb and make a prediction.Cordarrelle won’t make the roster this year.He has Wallace,Johnson and Wright all ahead of him,and I think Diggs and Thielen will push Cordarrelle hard.Either one of those guys could be a kick returner so Patterson could find himself on the outer.
    Also thanks to Arif for the article.I have followed you for many years and do appreciate your efforts.

  6. The unfortunate aspect of this article, is there is no place where Patterson is allowed to give his views – ie what he felt he accomplished in the off season, what he felt Zimmer had asked of him to accomplish, why he did not work with the unknown trainer.

    It is really not correct to present the conclusion that he is not learning what Zimmer/ Turner wanted Patterson to know without asking one of the three (Zimmer, Patterson, or Turner). Turner when asked early in the offseason about Patterson seemed to think Patterson was doing very well and would definitely be an integral part of the offense.

  7. Honestly I think it’s more important for the Vikings to get what they can out of Patterson as a playmaker for the next two years of his contract and not worry quite as much about trying to make him a number one receiver in the NFL. The guy is too talented to have on the bench, so the trick is to identify what he is good at and use that to help the team without it becoming too predictable to the d-coordinators of the league. If he decides he wants to become a great receiver as well then great, but they need to make sure they get the most out of his abilities this year. I can give them a pass for last year because they were trying to make a point to him, but they need to find ways to get him on the field this year, even if it’s just as a decoy to help create space for his teammates.

  8. Good lord, Arif. I don’t know how you manage to remain civil. I enjoy your articles and your podcasts, especially your work with objective criteria. I don’t always agree, but anyone with an ounce of sense and familiarity with your work should recognize your lack of ulterior motives.

  9. Boy how things change quickly in the NFL. WRs used to be known to take 3 yrs to blossom into a starting and productive WR (back then they were usually juniors and seniors). Along with that, EVERYONE says he was raw coming out of college (played 1 yr of real college ball) and only played football, at all, for a couple of years before that. His rookie year we had Peterson. I’m sure last year he was pressed on the line A LOT (which he’s little experience with) and probably had another defender over the top. Like i said before, if gets into routes faster he won’t be seeing dbl coverage, and if he does we’ll be in for quite the year. Also, with AD back and the way DEFs have to play against him, those splash plays will be back in play, which weren’t really at all last year cause DEfs could sit back and react instead of blitz and fill the box. I think the athletes this dude has trained speaks for itself.

  10. Cordarrelle Patterson was asked by his boss to do ONE thing in the off-season, something that his boss felt would help him overcome his failure as a WR and get him back on track. Cordarrelle Patterson chose to disregard his bosses recommendation, and instead, went down a different route with a different trainer.
    Cordarrelle Patterson had better be right. A multi-million dollar career is riding on him knowing better than his coaches, what he needs to do to be capable of earning a place on the roster. If he fails, it’s entirely his own fault.

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