Judging from my Twitter feed, plenty of you are fired up about why Cordarrelle Patterson wasn't on the field more often in the Vikings' first game, so I thought we'd spend a little time discussing it here. There's a primer in our Upon Further Review post from this morning about how little time Patterson saw, so go back and check that out if you haven't already.
In just five offensive snaps, Patterson caught one pass for 10 yards. On Monday morning, coach Leslie Frazier said Patterson's absence was a coach's decision, and wasn't linked at all to the back injury that limited him in practice last Wednesday and Thursday.
"We're going to try and get him a few more snaps, but we need to get a few more first downs and stay on the field longer with our offense," Frazier said. "But we want to get him more snaps."
That answer suggested to me that the Vikings still aren't at a point where they view Patterson as an integral part of their offense. He's probably more of a threat when they can diversify what they're doing, not when they're just trying to get into a flow. In those situations, the Vikings probably aren't going to come out with many multiple-receiver sets, which means Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson are going to see most of the playing time. Jarius Wright saw 27 snaps on Sunday, but he's firmly entrenched as the third receiver, and the Vikings also found double-digit snaps for all three of their tight ends (Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson and Rhett Ellison). Like it or not, this is still a run-first team, and for as much as the Vikings have talked about trying to add more balance to their offense, they're probably not going to do that overnight, and they're certainly not going to do it by turning into the Green Bay Packers.
None of this is to say that the decision to leave Patterson off the field was necessarily the right one, or that the Vikings won't have a different plan next week. In fact, if teams are able to slow Adrian Peterson the way the Lions did Sunday after his first touchdown, the Vikings might need to try some things to open the game up a little bit.
We'll see if Patterson has anything to say about his role when the locker room opens this afternoon, but for now, I'd say the rule of thumb with the rookie is patience.