Patterson Walks.

Patterson Walks.
Andre Patterson

A Zimmer staple heads for the exit, as longtime Minnesota Vikings defensive coach Andre Patterson joined the New York Giants on Thursday.

New Giants head coach Brian Daboll is forming a remarkable staff, hiring Patterson from the Vikings to pair with defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who was recently let go by the Baltimore Ravens.

Patterson will coach the Giants defensive line in New York – a gig he held with the Vikings from 2014 to 2019 before a promotion to co-defensive coordinator in 2020.

Jan 14, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The news of Patterson’s exodus coincided with the presumptive hire by the Vikings of new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. While soon-to-be HC Kevin O’Connell will coach in the Super Bowl this weekend, his staff is somehow coming together.

Donatell is closely linked with Vic Fangio, who runs 3-4 defenses. The Vikings – for almost all of their history – have implemented a 4-3 scheme, so it seems Patterson’s jaunt to the Big Apple may be a signal Minnesota plans to shift to a 3-4 style. Patterson has spent his career developing 4-3 defensive ends and tackles.

Among fans, Patterson was worshipped. He’s credited with unlocking Everson Griffen in 2014. From 2010 to 2013, Griffen was developing under Leslie Frazier’s tutelage. But when Patterson and Zimmer got a hold of Griffen, the beast was unleashed.

Too, Danielle Hunter thrived with Patterson’s mentorship. The Vikings scooped Hunter from the 3rd Round of the NFL draft in 2015 – a notorious hit-and-miss spot for defenders – yet Patterson and Zimmer ensured Hunter would rise to Pro Bowl stardom.

Even the usually-quiescent Hunter had thoughts on Patterson’s move to the Giants.

If you roll around in the gossip weeds, some suggest this tweet is a foreboding hint Hunter will not return to Minnesota in 2022. After missing 79% of all football games amid the last two seasons, Hunter’s future with the Vikings is not concrete. Otherwise, this tweet can be interpreted for what it probably is – a post about a friend entering the next chapter of his coaching career.

Minnesota has oodles of work to do on defense. The anchors are still around – Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith, and perhaps Hunter – but the rest of the defensive depth chart requires rapid attention in free agency and the draft. If not, a Vikings defense that ranked 30th in the NFL for yards allowed in 2021 is in dire shape.

But with the freshness of O’Connell arriving and the consistency typically showcased by Donatell, the leadership in-house to improve the defense. Now it’s a matter of player personnel.

In New York, Patterson will be tasked with developing players like Azeez Ojulari and Dexter Lawrence.

For now, ex-Viking Kyle Rudolph also plays for the Giants, so a mini-reunion on opposite sides of the ball is on tap.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).