In the second half of last season, Cordarrelle Patterson was used as a wide receiver in an extra-wide formation on offense. The idea that he could be using this experiment to develop a “positionless” gridiron game has some wondering if we’re headed for an era where players have more freedom to create their own path professionally and it will lead to less specialization at the collegiate level.
The “cordarrelle patterson fantasy position eligibility” is a question that has been asked many times. Patterson’s skillset and versatility make him an interesting player to watch, but can he be successful in the league at the wide receiver position?
FLOWERY BRANCH, Georgia – It started with a left-handed throw, a hole, and well-blocked play. In 2019, when the rusher ripped past the Denver Broncos’ defense for 46 yards — most of it undisturbed — it seemed to be one terrific play, one little hiccup.
Yet, in a sport concerned with intricacies and minutiae, it generated something else — something not seen for another two years and a city: the revival of an idea for how to employ Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who is enjoying a breakthrough season.
What if Patterson, a first-round choice with a rare blend of height, ability, speed, and vision, could go on to be more than an All-Pro returner and average NFL receiver? What if there was a method to improve your creative abilities?
Then-Bears running backs coach Charles London stated, “Got up to 21 or 22 miles per hour.” “And you’re like, ‘OK, maybe we have something here,’” says the narrator.
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Patterson’s transformation into a hybrid player started on that day, when he was playing for the Bears against the Broncos. Patterson’s transformation into an all-purpose attacking weapon has been discussed for a long time. New England attempted it in 2018, but when Patterson moved to Chicago in 2019, the experiment came to a halt.
Patterson returned to receiver with the exception of a few plays, such as the one against the Broncos. The Bears then looked at Patterson’s work at New England in 2020 and remembered the Week 2 throw. It was clear that the first concept of “there could be something there” was worth further investigation and development. Patterson, a receiver and kick returner, might be converted to a running back.
Could anybody have foreseen Patterson’s trajectory since then? With the Falcons, his sixth club and the first to find out how to transform him into an offensive force, he’s had a career year. Patterson has set career highs in almost every offensive category with the Falcons, including carries (106), running yards (489), rushing touchdowns (4), receiving yards (518), and receiving touchdowns (5). He’s also one catch away from matching his career high of 45.
Patterson said, “It seems like I haven’t done enough in the previous eight years.” “This year, and every year after that, has been a godsend. We all know football isn’t a long-term sport, so coming here every year to showcase myself and show the squad what I can do to help them win is a gift.”
The Falcons have looked a little adrift offensively without Patterson. Atlanta was kept scoreless in the six quarters he did not play this season. Patterson, who is 30 years old, has established himself as Atlanta’s most important skill position player.
Falcons coach Arthur Smith noted, “CP has had a major influence this year.” “You certainly want to have a significant amount of output when you sign someone in free agency.”
“He’s gone above and beyond.”
Patterson recalls the discussion. The possibility of shifting to running back was discussed at some time between the conclusion of the 2019 season and virtual sessions conducted in the spring before the Bears’ 2020 season.
Patterson said that coaches contacted him after London asked about the transfer. London further said that it was not one coach that recommended it, but rather a cooperative effort to “maximize his skill set.” The emotion was reciprocal, regardless of the mechanics of who went to whom first.
Why don’t you give it a try?
Patterson stated, “I was like, ‘S—-, whatever you guys need me to do,’” “They’re well aware of my mental state and everything.”
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They pitched the concept to Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot, who would decide whether or not to attempt to recruit a player.
Patterson said that having London and Ragone in Atlanta made signing with the Falcons “sort of a no-brainer.” They’d helped him develop his vision a year ago and felt it could continue in a different city and offensive system, one that had favored running backs and playmakers during his time with the Tennessee Titans. Smith’s desire to move the ball around the field was another something he admired.
“CP is a player I’ve attempted to sign numerous times during my career in this league,” Ragone added. “Most of the time, he abandons me at the altar. We’ve been able to locate him the previous two occasions.
“Because he was selected as a wide receiver and is, perhaps, a Hall of Fame returner, I believe he provides a different matchup than most people in this league, in my opinion. So he’s dynamic with the ball in his hands.”
There was also a distinction. Patterson now had a year’s worth of work to look back on and an offseason to acquaint himself with the hybrid position Atlanta had built for him, rather than being forced to work virtually for an offseason.
Patterson drilled at running back over and again throughout training camp. He still needed to understand the nuances of pass protection, which London said he didn’t pay attention to previous season and praised new Atlanta running backs coach Desmond Kitchings for assisting him, but he showed potential.
“You don’t have to worry about picking up blitzes or anything like that when you’re a receiver,” Patterson said. “Playing running back necessitates learning blitzes, protections, and other such skills. That, I believe, is the most difficult aspect.”
The season then started. Patterson’s career had always been full of mystery and promise, and he began to play more regularly.
It was a gradual build, like so much of his career. On a day when Atlanta’s offense failed to produce a touchdown, he had nine carries for 67 yards and a touchdown. The next week, he had 12 touches for 69 yards.
It was the catalyst for Patterson’s meteoric rise to prominence in Atlanta’s offense. Against Washington, he recorded three consecutive games of over 100 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns.
Falcons linebacker Deion Jones stated, “He’s not your usual running back.” “When you’re covering him, there’s a lot more to keep an eye on. But in terms of speed, he’s typically an issue for me. He’s unquestionably an issue.”
Patterson grew as Atlanta’s primary offensive option as opponents reacted to rookie tight end Kyle Pitts’ absence and receiver Calvin Ridley’s need for time away from the Falcons to work on his mental health.
And he’s more difficult to track down than others. Patterson has appeared 121 times as a running back, 25 times as an outside receiver, 11 times as a slot receiver, three times as a tight end, twice as a fullback, and once as a quarterback, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
Patterson’s ability to line up in various spots puts pressure on opposing defenders.
“Put a receiver back there they can really pass the ball off to,” Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “Now you have a running back who may be standing out there as a receiver, well someone has to cover him.” “So, do you want a defensive back to play linebacker or a linebacker to play defensive back? How do you want to approach that?” There are several versions available.
“It makes things difficult. It’s about the progression of the offense and offensive talent, as well as how they’re used.”
Patterson is the most recent incarnation.
“You may argue that he was a running back or that he was a wide receiver,” Ragone added. “As a result, the defense must have a strategy in place for him. We really like the fact that he is a football player.”
Patterson may be leading the NFL towards a new era of positionless football, in which a club gathers as many playmakers as possible and then works out how to best use them.
“I think he should have been played like that his entire career because he’s such a dynamic player and you put the ball in his hands,” Agnew, a hybrid himself, said. “Just from a defensive standpoint, covering kicks against this guy, it’s difficult to tackle him.” He’ll make someone miss if you merely put the ball in his hands. He’s going to slam into someone. He’s capable of a wide range of tasks. He moves quickly. He’s lightning fast. He’s a tall man.
“He’s everything,” says the narrator.
Patterson is well aware of the situation. On a recent day, he grins as he stands off to the side after practice, contemplating on the year that has passed and what lies ahead. Because Cordarrelle Patterson, who is having a career year with an unexpected uptick in performance, might be on the cusp of becoming a long-term player.
Patterson may go down in history as a forerunner for athletes who don’t play a certain position.
Patterson expressed his optimism, saying, “I hope so, dude.” “It’s basically going to open things up for a lot of players who believe they just have to play one position,” says one player.
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The “is cordarrelle patterson playing today” is a question that has been asked many times. He is one of the most talked about players in football and could be creating a world of positionless football.
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