Why Is Cordarrelle Patterson a Running Back? A Strategic Evolution in the NFL

John Rizzo

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Cordarrelle Patterson a Running Back

Cordarrelle Patterson’s evolution into a running back is a testament to the ever-evolving dynamics of NFL strategies and player roles.

Renowned for his electrifying career as a wide receiver, Patterson’s shift raises intriguing questions about the motives behind this transformation.

Delving into the intricacies of his journey unveils a narrative shaped by unparalleled athleticism, strategic coaching decisions, and a commitment to adapting in a league defined by versatility.

This exploration seeks to unravel why Cordarrelle Patterson, a player celebrated for his prowess in multiple positions, has embraced the demanding role of a running back, significantly impacting his career trajectory and the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive dynamics.

Why Is Cordarrelle Patterson a Running Back?

Cordarrelle Patterson’s transition to the running back position in the NFL is based on a combination of his unique skill set and the strategic decisions made by coaches.

Here are some reasons why Cordarrelle Patterson is utilized as a running back:


Patterson is a highly versatile player with a diverse skill set. While he initially entered the league as a wide receiver, his ability to contribute in various facets of the game, including running the ball effectively, has led coaches to experiment with his position.

Physical Attributes

Patterson possesses the physical attributes necessary for success as a running back. His combination of speed, power, vision, and agility allows him to navigate through defenses, break tackles, and make explosive plays on the ground.

Mismatch Creation

By using Patterson as a running back, teams can create mismatches against opposing defenses. His size, speed, and receiving ability out of the backfield make him a challenging matchup for linebackers and safeties, providing an advantage to his team.


Patterson’s willingness to adapt to different roles and positions highlights his versatility. Coaches appreciate players who can seamlessly transition between positions, and Patterson’s flexibility adds an extra dimension to the offensive playbook.

Explosive Plays

Patterson’s transition to running back is also a strategic move to capitalize on his ability to make explosive plays.

Whether carrying the ball or catching passes, he can turn routine plays into game-changing moments.

Offensive Creativity

The NFL is evolving, and coaches are increasingly embracing creativity in offensive schemes.

Utilizing Patterson as a running back is a testament to this trend, allowing teams to think outside traditional positional norms for strategic advantages.

Special Teams Impact

Patterson’s value extends beyond offensive roles. He has been a dynamic force on special teams, particularly as a kickoff return specialist.

His overall impact on the game, including special teams contributions, makes him a valuable asset for his team.

What Other Positions Has Cordarrelle Patterson Played?

How Has Cordarrelle Patterson’s Running Back Role Impacted the Atlanta Falcons’ Offensive Game Plan?

Cordarrelle Patterson is known for his versatility and has played multiple positions during his football career.

Some of the positions he has played include:

Wide Receiver

Patterson was primarily drafted as a wide receiver by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played this position during his time with the Vikings and other teams.

Return Specialist

Patterson has excelled as a return specialist throughout his career. His speed and agility make him a dangerous player in kick and punt return situations. He holds the NFL record for the most career kickoff return touchdowns.

Running Back

While he started his career primarily as a wide receiver, Patterson has recently transitioned to the running back position.

This change has highlighted his versatility, as he has proven to be effective in both running and receiving roles out of the backfield.

Defensive Player (Briefly)

In some instances, particularly during emergencies or specific game situations, Patterson has lined up on the defensive side of the ball.

However, this has been a rare occurrence compared to his more frequent roles on offense and special teams.

How Has Cordarrelle Patterson Performed as a Running Back?

Cordarrelle Patterson has performed exceptionally well as a running back in the NFL, particularly during the 2021 season.

During the 2021 season with the Atlanta Falcons, Patterson emerged as a dynamic and versatile threat in the running back position.

Here are some key points from his performance:

Rushing Production

Patterson showcased his ability to run effectively, displaying a combination of speed, power, and vision. He was utilized in various rushing situations, contributing positively to the Falcons’ ground game.

Receiving Ability

One of Patterson’s strengths as a running back is his capability to catch passes out of the backfield. This added dimension makes him a dual-threat player, creating mismatches for opposing defenses.

Touchdown Production

Patterson found the end zone multiple times during the 2021 season, both as a runner and as a receiver. His ability to score touchdowns significantly boosted the Falcons’ offensive output.

Yards from Scrimmage

Patterson accumulated impressive yards from scrimmage, demonstrating his impact not only in the running game but also as a receiving threat. His versatility allowed the Falcons to use him in various offensive schemes.


Patterson’s versatility was a key factor in his success as a running back. He could line up in different formations, contributing as a runner, receiver, and even in special teams situations.

How Has Cordarrelle Patterson’s Running Back Role Impacted the Atlanta Falcons’ Offensive Game Plan?

What Other Positions Has Cordarrelle Patterson Played?

Cordarrelle Patterson’s shift to running back has reshaped the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive playbook, injecting versatility and explosive play potential.

Explore the strategic impact of his dynamic role on game plans:

Versatility in Formations

Patterson’s ability to play as a running back adds a layer of versatility to the Falcons’ offensive formations. Coaches can employ different sets and schemes to maximize Patterson’s strengths, creating uncertainty for opposing defenses.

Mismatch Opportunities

Patterson’s dual-threat capabilities as both a runner and a receiver make him a matchup nightmare.

Coordinators can exploit favorable matchups, lining Patterson up against defenders who may struggle to contain his speed, size, or agility.

Explosive Plays

Patterson’s transition to running back likely emphasizes the potential for explosive plays. His speed and agility make him a big-play threat on both running and passing plays, and the offensive game plan may include designed plays to capitalize on his playmaking ability.

Red Zone Impact

Given Patterson’s scoring ability, the Falcons may design specific plays in the red zone to take advantage of his skills.

Whether running the ball or catching passes near the goal line, Patterson provides an additional scoring option.

Play-Action Effectiveness

Patterson’s threat as a running back can enhance the effectiveness of play-action plays. Defenders may be more inclined to bite on play fakes, opening up opportunities for the passing game.

Balancing the Offense

Patterson’s role as a running back contributes to a more balanced offensive attack. The ability to effectively run the ball with Patterson can keep defenses honest and prevent them from keying in solely on the passing game.

Adaptability in Game Plans

Coaches can adapt their game plans based on the specific strengths and matchups presented by Patterson. This adaptability allows the Falcons to be dynamic, adjusting strategies based on the opponent and game situation.

What Records or Milestones Has Cordarrelle Patterson Achieved as a Running Back?

Cordarrelle Patterson has etched his name in the NFL record books with remarkable achievements since transitioning to the running back position.

Notable records and milestones include:

Tying the NFL Record for Longest Kickoff Return (2013)

In a standout moment, Patterson tied the NFL record for the most extended kickoff return with a sensational 109-yard touchdown against the Detroit Lions in 2013.

First Rushing Touchdown in the NFL (2022)

Patterson marked a milestone in 2022 by securing his inaugural rushing touchdown in the NFL, a dazzling 50-yard run against the Chicago Bears.

Career-High Rushing Yardage (2022)

Displaying his prowess, Patterson set career-high rushing yardage in the 2022 season, amassing 120 yards against the New Orleans Saints and an impressive 141 yards against the Seattle Seahawks.

Top-Three Ranking in NFL Rushing Yards (2022)

During the initial three weeks of the 2022 season, Patterson secured a notable third-place ranking in the NFL for rushing yards, accumulating 302 yards on the ground.

First-Team All-Pro Kick Returner (2013)

Patterson’s excellence extends beyond running back duties. In 2013, he was recognized as a first-team All-Pro kick returner, showcasing his versatility and impact on special teams.


What position is Cordarrelle Patterson?

Cordarrelle Patterson is currently listed as a running back for the Atlanta Falcons, showcasing his versatility across multiple positions throughout his NFL career.

How has Cordarrelle Patterson’s role as a running back changed over time?

Cordarrelle Patterson’s running back role evolved from sporadic usage to a more prominent position, showcasing his adaptability. His impact has grown, contributing significantly to the Falcons’ offense.

What do coaches and teammates say about Cordarrelle Patterson’s role as a running back?

Coaches and teammates praise Cordarrelle Patterson’s versatility as a running back, highlighting his unique value to the Falcons’ offense. His work ethic and leadership garner admiration in the locker room.

Has Cordarrelle Patterson faced any challenges adapting to the running back role?

Every position shift comes with challenges, but Patterson’s seamless transition indicates his adaptability. His unique skill set appears well-suited for the demands of the running back position.

What impact has Cordarrelle Patterson had on the Atlanta Falcons locker room culture?

Patterson’s leadership and adaptability have likely positively influenced the locker room, providing a veteran presence and setting an example for versatility and a team-first mentality.

To Recap

Cordarrelle Patterson’s transition to a running back encapsulates the dynamic nature of modern NFL playbooks and the strategic brilliance of coaches harnessing versatile talent.

His journey from a standout wide receiver to a forceful running back symbolizes the adaptive ethos of elite athletes in a rapidly changing league.

Patterson’s exceptional speed, power, and multi-faceted skills have not only redefined his career but have left an indelible mark on the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive strategies.

As he continues to rewrite the script of traditional player roles, Patterson’s story becomes a compelling chapter in the ongoing narrative of innovation and success in professional football.

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John Rizzo

I am a professional rugby player in the Washington DC-Baltimore area. I have been playing rugby for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to play in many different countries. I am also a coach for both youth and adult rugby teams. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Sports Management and Marketing. I am currently working on my MPA from American University and plan to pursue this career path after graduating next year. LinkedIn