“A lot of them,” Patterson chuckled after practice last week at Halas Hall.
“But this Bears offense is a great offense, man.”
Drafted in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft as a wide receiver by the Minnesota Vikings, Patterson spent four seasons in Minnesota, before one-year stints in Oakland and New England.
Patterson went to a pair of Pro Bowls (2013, 2016) because of his prowess on kickoff returns, but he never caught more than 52 passes for 469 yards in a single season. Last season, on the way to winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots, Patterson got more attention for being a regular option at running back. In 2018, Patterson rushed for 5.4 yards per carry on 42 rushes.
A free agent in the offseason, Patterson wanted to find a system that further accentuated his considerable strengths on offense. He eventually signed a two-year deal with the Bears that contained $5 million in guarantees, largely due to the fact Matt Nagy calls the plays in Chicago.
“If you really pay attention to football and see the things that Coach Nagy did in the past -- coming to the Bears was a no-brainer,” Patterson said. “I just want to come in and showcase my talent, and Coach Nagy, there are a lot of different things he can do on the football field to help players like me out. He tries to get the ball to everyone on the field, not just one person. As a guy coming into a new system, that’s what you want from your head coach. You want a guy that’s going to spread the ball around and get it to everybody.”
Nagy and Patterson seem like a perfect match.
Although Chicago’s offense had just an average statistical output in Nagy’s first season in charge -- the Bears still finished 12-4 and won the NFC North -- the Andy Reid protégé earned rave reviews for his creativity and unpredictability on offense.
Design a short-yardage touchdown pass for backup offensive lineman Bradley Sowell?
Hand the ball off to Pro Bowl defensive lineman Akiem Hicks on the goal line?
Have the shortest guy on the team (Tarik Cohen) play quarterback and fire a touchdown pass?
Throw a two-point conversion pass to reserve linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski?
Like the rest of the NFL, the Bears have shown nothing in the preseason, especially in regards to Patterson. Just imagine the plays Nagy has already drawn up for Patterson, who’ll likely see time on offense as a receiver, runner and perhaps even a passer when the regular season opens on Sept. 5. Patterson will also handle kickoff returns.
“He came in as strictly a wide receiver and obviously was a little bit smaller at the time, but he found his own niche,” Nagy said last week. “We have some plans for him with what we want to do. I’m proud of Cordarrelle and the fact of what he’s done coming into this camp, digesting this playbook and seeing what we do as a complete player, whether that’s a wide receiver or in the backfield. He’s grown and done everything we’ve asked.”
Patterson dismisses the importance of individual statistics, but his upbeat and positive attitude suggests he knows what his true value will be when the Bears finally unveil their real offense.
“Coach Nagy just lets me be myself,” Patterson said. “He’s really expanded my role and I appreciate that.”