Last night, the Jets announced that they signed cornerback Dimitri Patterson and wide receiver Jacoby Ford. Jets fans might not know too much about these two, so I’ve been reviewing game footage to get an insight into what each of them bring to the table.
We start with Patterson, who is a 30-year old journeyman who went undrafted in 2005 and didn’t start his first game until 2010. The Jets will be Patterson’s seventh NFL team. He spent last year with the Miami Dolphins with whom he was the opening day starter, but suffered a groin injury in week one that hampered him all year, limiting him to six games. He did, however, intercept four passes, tying a career high.
After the jump, I look in detail at footage from Patterson’s 2013 season to evaluate some of his strengths and weaknesses.
Who is Dimitri Patterson?
Patterson started his collegiate career at Southeast Missouri State before later transferring to Tuskegee. Not surprisingly, he was undrafted in 2005, but the Redskins picked him up and he played in three games as a rookie, intercepting one pass. After spending time on the Vikings’ practice squad in 2006, he signed a two year deal with the Chiefs and played in 20 games over the next two seasons. He then signed with the Eagles in 2009 and, after a year in a backup role, started nine games for them in 2010, intercepting four passes.
The Browns became his 5th NFL team in 2011 and 2012 where he was used as a slot corner in nickel packages and responded well. However, he struggled with an ankle injury throughout 2012 and was eventually cut loose late in the season, with the Dolphins claiming him off waivers.
Having overcome some initial struggles with Miami’s zone-based system, Patterson would start on opening day in 2013 and finished with four interceptions in six games despite a groin injury that plagued him all year. He would eventually be placed on injured reserve late in the season.
Let’s look at his numbers from his career so far:
35 passes defensed, two sacks, nine interceptions (one touchdown), one forced fumble
Coverage numbers (since 2007): 158-for-266, 1845 yards, 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions
Completion percentage: 59.4%
Yards per attempt: 6.9
QB rating: 83.0
30 penalties (includes 12 on special teams)
(Some statistics in this article are provided courtesy of Pro Football Focus.)
Now let’s briefly recap his performance from 2013:
In preseason, Patterson played exclusively on the outside in the first three games, but then reverted to the slot in nickel packages in the fourth game. Miami had five preseason games last season, but Patterson sat out the last one. Patterson was targeted six times, giving up just two catches for 14 yards. The longest was a nine yard pass where he was 10 yards off his man at the snap with the right defensive end dropping off in a trap coverage. Patterson still closed well to make the stop. He did likewise on the other completion, which came on 3rd and seven and his stop short of the marker forced a punt.
There were a couple of plays where Patterson was in tight coverage leading to an incompletion and he also had one pressure as a pass rusher and made a couple of stops in run support.
In terms of negatives, there was one play where the outside receiver motioned into the slot and the result was that there was a man wide open over the middle. Also, Patterson was twice badly beaten on plays that ended up being incompletions. On one he missed the jam on the receiver but the ball was overthrown and on the other he initially had tight coverage but the receiver totally lost him on a whip route only for the quarterback to miss him with the pass. He did also have a pass interference penalty, but that looked harsh.
Week One – at Cleveland
Patterson’s season got off to a great start, as he intercepted two passes and nearly a third. However, he left the game early with the groin injury. The first pick came as he stayed tight on Greg Little’s 3rd and short crossing route. He likely would have made the stop shy of the first down anyway, but reacted well when the ball was off Little’s hands and made a juggling catch. The second was slightly easier, as he reacted well to a ball tipped into the air and made a diving catch. He almost had another when he jumped a route and got his hands on the ball on the outside.
Patterson did give up three catches, although the longest – an 18-yarder where the receiver came in motion and then avoided his jam to get open on a slant – was negated by a penalty. He closed well on 2nd and 10 to limit a gain to eight and made a stop on 3rd a long on the outside (only to be called for a face mask penalty).
Week Seven – v Buffalo
In his return to action, there were a couple of mix-ups with Sean Smith. On one of these, the Bills stacked their receivers and one ran an out pattern, while the other ran a go route. Both corners went with the out route, although Patterson recovered to hit the receiver as he caught the ball over by the sideline. That was a 30-yard gain, but it did look as if Patterson’s hit had knocked the ball loose so that might have been overturned if challenged. The other mix-up saw Smith react late and Patterson drop off on a quick out on third down. However, again, Patterson responded well and managed to stop Stevie Johnson just shy of the marker to force a fourth down.
On one other target, Patterson was in tight coverage and the pass was harmlessly incomplete. He also added a sack off the edge, although he did get juked in the open field by CJ Spiller on an 11-yard run.
Week Eight – at New England
Mixed results for Patterson in this game, starting positively with an interception as he jumped in front of Rob Gronkoswki on a quick out from the slot. That was a well disguised coverage and a good jump on the ball, but Brady did throw behind Gronkowski. He had another big play with a third down pass break up on the outside. That was very physical coverage and arguably could have been flagged.
Patterson did give up three catches, although the longest – a 26-yarder – came on what looked like a blatant push-off. One of the others was a 15-yarder in a tight window as he was all over the receiver. The third was a short gain where he reacted immediately to a quick throw on 2nd and 10 to force a third down. However, he again got the short end of the stick from the officials on the next play as Brady’s incompletion down the right sideline was negated by a holding call on Patterson on the opposite side. Patterson merely appeared to jam the receiver, who slipped over. On one other play, Patterson anticipated well and blew up a screen by evading his blocker and tripping the runner.
Week Nine – v Cincinnati
Patterson was targeted a bunch in this game, giving up eight catches on 14 targets. He gave up just 81 yards though and did have another interception and a pass breakup. One play went for 26 yards on 3rd and 10 as he was draped all over the receiver who made a tough catch. That might even have been overturned had they challenged it, because the ball did hit the turf. Another went for 18 and this was a poor job by Patterson who allowed the receiver to get outside leverage, then box him out and break to the outside. Patterson never got his head turned and was never likely to get the push-off call he felt the play warranted. Only one other play went for a first down and that was an immediate dump-off for two yards on 2nd and one. The rest saw him close quickly to limit the damage although there was one other play where the Dolphins blew the coverage and Patterson had to run with the deep guy, leaving the tight end open in the flat on his side.
Patterson was in good position on several of the incompletions, a couple of which came while matched up with AJ Green. His interception saw him jump a telegraphed out-route to Green just before half-time to set up a field goal. Patterson also fought off a block to blow up a wide receiver screen in the backfield that was ultimately dropped.
He did have a potentially costly missed tackle on Marvin Jones, who caught a pass on a 3rd and eight crossing route. Patterson came up and missed him in the open field at the 40 and Jones went in for a 50-yard score. However, the touchdown was negated by a downfield hold.
Week 11 – v San Diego
Patterson only played 19 snaps in this one and was credited with two targets and one first down catch. That was harsh, because he was covering downfield and came up to make the tackle on Ryan Matthews who nobody had accounted for leaking into the flat.
Week 14 – at Pittsburgh
In this, his final appearance of the season, Patterson was partly at fault for this short Emanuel Sanders touchdown, as he backed off too far at the goal line and got turned around. Other than that, there was another blown coverage where Patterson was on the outside and Heath Miller ran down the seam and was wide open down the middle. The announcers attributed this to the inside linebacker biting on a play-fake.
Here’s my observations from watching the footage, divided into categories:
As noted above, Patterson has experience in the slot and on the outside.
In an article published overnight, Rich Cimini stated that Patterson started on the outside, but reverted to the slot in nickel packages last season in Miami. That was the case in the first game of the season, but not in any of his other five games last year. In three of them, he started and Jimmy Wilson played the slot in the nickel and in the other two, he only played in nickel packages – on the outside. While he excelled in a slot role with the Browns, Patterson was mostly employed on the outside in Philadelphia too.
In Miami, Patterson played mostly on the right, as the Dolphins rarely matched up their top corner on the opposing team’s number one receiver.
As advertised, Patterson is a very physical corner who excels in press coverage. There were a couple of occasions where he missed his jam completely and got beaten, but most of the time this allowed him to stay tight with his man. Even on most of the receptions he gave up, he was close to knocking the ball loose or draped all over the receiver as the ball was caught.
Despite his documented struggles in adjusting to having to play off-coverage when he first arrived in Miami, he didn’t fare too badly when used that way in 2013. He closes well on the ball and has good timing.
Now into his thirties, Patterson might well have lost a step since he was drafted, although he didn’t play much early in his career so perhaps he has more tread on his tires than some players his age. Patterson’s athleticism doesn’t necessarily stand out, but he does have good closing speed and was able to run deep stride for stride with the likes of AJ Green, so it’s not something that limits him. He did show good agility on one of his interceptions, breaking a couple of tackles as he tried to get positive yardage on the runback.
As noted, Patterson is very physical which can, of course, be a risk in terms of penalties. There was certainly one play where he was draped all over the receiver that could have been flagged.
The penalties he did have in 2013 were a legitimate face mask call and a totally bogus defensive hold where the receiver slipped over at the jam. He also had a pass interference penalty in preseason that seemed to be nothing more than legal contact within five yards before the pass was thrown (although that particular play was not replayed).
From what I saw, he did a good job of staying just the right side of legal, but he has had penalty issues in the past with nine in 2010 (three holds, two illegal contact, two facemasks, one pass interference and one unnecessary roughness call).
Patterson didn’t make too many contributions in run defense, but didn’t make too many mistakes either. There was one play where CJ Spiller was able to reverse his field and Patterson overpursued, but he otherwise remained disciplined. There was also a play where he held up the runner on the edge and had to wait for help to arrive to bring him down, getting driven for a few extra yards in the process, but ultimately that was a five yard gain on what could have been a touchdown if the runner got loose.
Patterson did have a couple of missed tackles in the open field, but for the most part closed on the ball well and made secure tackles. He didn’t make any especially big hits.
He does seem to anticipate well, notably on a couple of quick passes to the outside, where he fought off a receiver’s block to blow up the play.
Patterson was only used as a blitzer twice all season, but does have the burst that would seem to make him effective in that role. He recorded one sack on a play where nobody blocked him and he was all over the quarterback in an instant. Also, in preseason, he forced an incompletion by getting around a blocker to pressure the quarterback.
Patterson’s ball skills are one of his more impressive traits. He had a couple of difficult interceptions in the first game of the season. Other than one play where he failed to get his head turned, he did a good job of locating the ball and getting his hands on the ball to disrupt passes.
As noted above, Patterson anticipates well and has good reactions. However, at times, teams were able to exploit confusion in the secondary by stacking their receivers or motioning them pre-snap.
There were several plays where the Dolphins had blown coverages that led to opportunities for easy first downs involving Patterson. I don’t think all of these were his fault and his impressive recovery speed prevented most of these from being too damaging, but it would still be a minor cause for concern as he joins a team as be one of the elder statesmen where blown coverages have been an issue too.
Patterson wasn’t particularly demonstrative on the field, although he did appeal for a push-off penalty on a couple of occasions (one where he clearly had a case and another where he did not).
When he makes a big play, he likes to dance.
Patterson has hardly played any special teams over the past two seasons. Prior to that, he was a pretty effective special teamer, with eight tackles in coverage in 2010. I wouldn’t expect him to make much of a contribution here with the Jets though.
As noted, Patterson was bothered by an ankle injury throughout 2012 and a groin injury throughout 2013. Clearly this is a concern going forward.
I could not find any examples of off-field concerns for Patterson.
It’s clear to me that, while he isn’t a shutdown cornerback in the Darrelle Revis mold, Patterson is a starter-level player, whose skill-set seems to fit in well with what Rex Ryan looks for in a cornerback.
The injury situation should be closely monitored as I don’t think it would be wise to enter into the season with Patterson penciled in as a full-time starter without a viable replacement on the roster. Still, that will depend on how high the Jets are on some of the players they already have on the team.
I like the fact he has shown aptitude both in the slot and on the outside because that could give the Jets more flexibility in terms of how they use Kyle Wilson and finding reps for the likes of Darrin Walls and Ellis Lankster.
While Patterson might prove to be a stop-gap starter at best, the Jets are smart to bring a player like him aboard, in order to bring some much-needed experience to their secondary unit.
I’ll move on to Ford tomorrow, before we return back to looking at some of the players added to the roster since the end of last year (barring any further signings in the meantime, of course).