Connect with us

Steelers Analysis

What are the Steelers Getting In Cordarrelle Patterson?

What are the Pittsburgh Steelers getting in their new signing of All-Pro return man Cordarrelle Patterson?



Pittsburgh Steelers Cordarrelle Patterson

On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Steelers added former Falcons running back and four-time All-Pro kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. This addition helps fill out the running back depth chart and offers a new twist to the team with the new kick return rules. What exactly are the Steelers getting in Patterson, though?

Patterson is one of the best, if not the best, kickoff returners of all-time. He has had nine such kickoff returns throughout his career, and he averages 29.3 yards per kickoff return. That is likely where the onus of this move is coming from, as Patterson should fill that role immediately. Mike Tomlin noted there would be a change in body type on these kickoffs, but not just that, returners themselves had to be more than just pure speed, but have excellent vision. Patterson checks that box. Over the past two seasons, over 16 returns, he has one touchdown return and averages 27.3 yards per return. At 33 years old, it’s easy to question how much juice he has left, but numbers would say there’s something there. And the new kickoff rules should benefit Patterson, too.

The rule is based on one the XFL used for the last two springs. The ball is kicked off from the 35-yard line, like it is now, but instead of the kick coverage team being placed alongside the kicker, they are on the opposing 40-yard line. The blockers are lined up between the 30 and 35-yard line, 10 to 15 yards away.

Kicks must land inside the 20-yard line, and balls kicked into the end zone will now come all the way out to the 30-yard line, incentivizing teams to try to get the ball returned. Players can’t move until the ball is caught or hit the ground. Here’s an example of a touchdown returned by the San Antonio Brahmas last year:

Cordarrelle Patterson fits this mold well. You can see pullers and other exotic run plays that teams might pull out within the new rules. It is less like a traditional kickoff and more like a run play. So, vision and elusiveness mean much more instead of just pure speed. For Patterson, that has always been his specialty. Theoretically, this should be able to give Patterson new life in his age 33 season, allowing him to have a big-time impact on the game.

As for what Cordarrelle Patterson does on offense, he worked with new Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith in Atlanta, so that connection is obvious. But he has been a wide receiver and running back in the past. Patterson should be the third running back behind Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris while adding a gadget play element.

He only had 50 rushes for 181 yards a year ago, though the season before that, Patterson added 695 rushing yards on 144 carries, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Regardless, he is a versatile weapon that the team can work into their game plan, and the new kickoff rules will certainly allow for some ingenuity.

This is not likely to be a signing that changes the complexion of the offense, though Smith likes to go down the depth chart and get guys involved. Instead, it should protect against injury down the depth chart, with Patterson bringing solid depth and an excellent returner to boot with the revival of kickoffs.

All of this will depend on how much juice Patterson has left in the tank, but the past few seasons state there should be some left there. And if that is the case, the Steelers got one of the best possible additions for the new kickoff rules, which will act far more like a running back reading his offensive line. And while Patterson’s speed and elusiveness were elite, his vision is always what has made him special.