One of the big stories coming out of Chicago Bears training camp so far is Cordarrelle Patterson spending more time with the running backs lately instead of the wide receiver group.
Well, let me rephrase that, he’s almost exclusively getting reps at running back to start things off in training camp for the first two practices.
There will be a lot of discussion today about the #Bears' use of Cordarrelle Patterson at running back. Got a lot of reps there today.
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) August 17, 2020
And now meeting with the Media after the second day of camp… he seems on board with the idea…
"I just go out and do whatever coach tells me to do. Whatever he needs done, I'm going to go out and do it to the best of my ability." – #Bears WR/RB/KR Cordarrelle Patterson.
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) August 18, 2020
Now, this isn’t a complete surprise.
Before joining the Bears last season, Patterson had some decent success at the RB position in New England. He basically took over as the lead back at the end of the season for them and ended up with 42 attempts for 228 yards and a TD. That averages out to 5.4 YPC, which is nothing to scoff at. When you dig even deeper into it, his longest run was 27 yards, so it’s not like he broke off one big 90-yard run to inflate those numbers. Again, it’s not like he’s some 1000 yard rusher, but the skill set is there.
Last year on the Bears he only had 17 attempts for 103 yards, which may not seem like a lot. Compare it to his 17 targets with 11 catches and 83 yards receiving though, and Patterson is just as much of a RB for the Bears as he is a WR.
Why make this change though?
Patterson was always brought in to be a return guy and a weapon on offense
The intent was never to have him play WR consistently. In the seven years he’s been in the league, he’s never started more than eight games at the position, and never even passed the 500-yard mark. He’s just not a starting WR but more of a compliment if used right.
We didn’t see that much from Nagy last year.
Speaking of WRs, the Bears have a lot of them and Patterson would be the odd man out
He was last year and now the Bears added Darnell Mooney in the draft and Ted Ginn Jr. in Free Agency. Pair the new acquisitions with Robinson, Miller, Wims, and Ridley? See what I’m getting at? Patterson was signed to a $10 million deal last year, and he’s too unique of a player to either release or sit on the bench as what… the 5th or 6th WR on the depth chart? Nah. He needs more utilization outside of returns which leads me to my next point…
What is Patterson good at? Kick returns, but…
What do players do on kick returns? Get the ball in their hands before the defense reaches them, follow blocks, run like hell, and make people miss. Instead of relying on a jet sweep, why not just give him the ball out of the backfield? The RB position should get him more opportunities to utilize his skill set. A skill set that has has made him one of the best kick returners in NFL history. Still no Devin Hester though…
The Bears need depth at RB
The Bears still don’t know completely what they have in Montgomery, and should Montgomery go down, Tarik Cohen is not an everyday RB. Patterson has shown he can handle playing RB for more than a snap or two per game, so if he isn’t going to play significant snaps at WR, why not play him at RB behind Montgomery? This is also the reason why you wouldn’t go sign a Free Agent RB. Utilize what’s on the team, especially if it’s a talent like Patterson.
Last but not least it gives Nagy flexibility to go and be creative with the offense
I’d argue, along with many others, that we have yet to see Nagy’s “offensive genius” in Chicago, but there are quite a few other, let’s call them issues, that he’s had to work around. Patterson has just as much speed as Cohen, if not more, so adding a weapon like that to the backfield could lead to some big plays. Having a skill set like Patterson fits what Nagy likes perfectly.
So Patterson, who is a career “WR”, switching to play RB this season may be a bit of a surprise, but it shouldn’t be considered a crazy move. There are a lot of good reasons for him to be playing the RB position and a lot of good reasons to think he can be extremely effective doing so.
Do you think this is a good move by Nagy? Let us know your thoughts.