Norv Turner Compares Cordarrelle Patterson to Michael Irvin


Norv Turner has been around the block a few times and has worked with more than his share of problematic receivers. So he’s not going to panic just because Cordarrelle Patterson hasn’t panned out after two years in the league.

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Turner remembers another receiver he worked with back in the day who took a little while to find his wings as an NFL player.

And one imagines it’s going to take all Turner’s patience to help Patterson, a receiver so problematic that the Vikings have reportedly hooked him up with a mystery offseason instructor (who may or may not be former Patriots WR Troy Brown).

Turner is obviously trying to assuage doubts about Patterson by reminding everyone of Michael Irvin’s relatively slow development as a receiver. Statistically speaking though, does Turner’s comparison between Hall of Famer Irvin and frustrating enigma Patterson hold any water? Let’s briefly look:

Irvin came into the league in ’88 as an 11th overall draft pick and in his rookie season caught 32 balls for 654 yards and 5 TDs with guys like Steve Pelleur and Kevin Sweeney at QB. Considering the state of the Cowboys that year (they went 3-13 in the the last year of the Tex Schramm-Tom Landry era) that’s not an awful rookie campaign.

His next season, the Cowboys’ infamous 1-15 year, Irvin played only 6 games because of injury and still caught 26 passes for 378 yards and 2 TDs. Irvin again struggled to stay on the field in his third year, playing 12 games and starting only 7. In that time he caught just 20 balls for 413 yards, mostly playing with second-year QB Troy Aikman who was himself still finding his way.

In his fourth season, with Aikman establishing himself as a top-flight QB and the Cowboys overall improving, Irvin busted out for 1523 yards on 93 receptions with 8 TD catches.

Patterson’s first two seasons arguably look like Irvin’s: Solid rookie year where he showed some flashes, then a second season marked by setbacks. There are however some key differences.

First, though Patterson did suffer some physical dings in 2014, he did play in most of the games. So you can’t blame his poor production on being hurt as Irvin was much of the time in his early years. Patterson simply was not able to get into the flow of the offense last year for whatever reason.

The other key difference to me is the overall team situation. The Cowboys were brutally bad in Irvin’s first two years and their QB situation was a disaster. The Vikings’ QB situation was a disaster in Patterson’s rookie season and it probably hurt his production. However, in his second year the QB situation stabilized with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm. As Bridgewater got better, players like Charles Johnson, Jarius Wright and Greg Jennings saw an increase in their production. Patterson meanwhile only regressed, and eventually had to be benched.

Irvin’s uptick in production corresponded with a general improvement in the Cowboys’ passing game as Troy Aikman came into his own. The sample size is obviously smaller, but Patterson last year went backward as the Vikings’ passing game improved, not forward.

Stats weren’t really the issue for Patterson in 2014 anyway, the problem was how disengaged and frankly clueless he looked on the field. Patterson’s inability to improve even slightly over the course of the season in things like route-running and catching technique was alarming.

Obviously the third year will be the big key for Patterson. We expect that Teddy Bridgewater and the passing game will keep getting better in 2015, and we hope that Patterson will get better along with them. If he doesn’t, then it will be harder and harder for Norv Turner to show the same patience he showed with Michael Irvin.

Nobody expects a bust-out 1500-yard season for Patterson in 2015, but he at least has to show that he can and will learn better technique. We know he has the talent but does he have the drive to improve? That’s the question. Norv Turner can preach patience all he wants, but fans want to see some results.

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