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The Peterson Paradox

Waste Management Phoenix Open - Preview Day 3 Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR

If you haven’t had a chance yet to see and hear Patrick Peterson’s chat with the media yesterday, click on this link: (I will be using this press conference as a basis for some of my remarks)

I think that for some Cardinals’ fans—-they don’t really know what to think about 7 time Pro Bowl CB Patrick Peterson.

I think we all acknowledge Peterson’s superior talent as a cover CB.

Where my thoughts about Peterson get tangled is when people describe him as an “elite” defender. Maybe my standards in applying the word “elite” are a little high, but to me, in order for one to deserve elite status as a football player, one has to manifest exemplary skills and effort at all aspects of his position.

So, having watched every one of his games as a Cardinal over the span of 7 years, if I were to grade Patrick Peterson on CB skills and effort, here’s what it would look like:

Man to Man coverage: A

Press coverage technique: B+

Zone Coverage: B

Ball Skills: A

Ball Tracking: A+

Anticipation: A-

Penalty (Holding, Pass Interference) Avoidance: B

Forcing the Run: F

Tackling: F

Blowing up Screens: F

Hustle on plays away: F

Leadership: C (very good in practice, not very good at times in games)

Overall Grade: B

In sum, I would say that Patrick Peterson is a dynamic man-to-man cover CB, but is a liability in run support, tackling and team help (I cannot recall a single time in 7 years where Peterson, with his vaunted 4.3 speed, has come flying into the screen from out of nowhere to chase down a play away from him).

Sadly, it feels like Peterson hides behind his man coverage assignment and wants little else or nothing to do with other aspects of team play. He goes full bore in coverage—-but then he often hits the stop button when the ball isn’t thrown to his man.

Let me get something out of the way—-I can’t stand to see these discrepancies in Peterson’s game. I desperately want to see him smell the coffee and perform across the board in the elite manner that he is very capable of. But, alas, after many years of hoping for this, i have become enured to the selfish, one-track-minded player that Peterson has become.

if I am being honest, I was not impressed with Peterson’s remarks to the media yesterday.

But—-I wanted to be.

For one—-I didn't find him to be the least bit contrite.

Contrition was the number one thing I was looking and hoping for.

I got the distinct impression that Peterson feels like he should treated like Tom Brady and be given a hero’s welcome upon his return from suspension.

But, in my opinion, Peterson’s violation was far more egregious and irresponsible than Brady’s. I think Brady got caught doing what many veteran QBs and kickers in cold weather have done over the years and had never been penalized for before. Now—-I think Brady should have manned up better after the fact, which is part of the reason why I believe he deserved the suspension. It was the coverup that made things worse.

However, with league-wide PED testing as ubiquitous, customary and repetitive as it is—-with hundreds of PED violations amassed over the years and several each year, to willfully take PEDs and then to take a masking agent to cover it up—-is completely inexcusable.

Peterson said yesterday, “I have no reason to cheat” and then lauded himself for what great shape he’s always in.

But, taking PEDs is a player’s means for cutting corners and not having to work out as diligently.

The strongest lament Peterson had yesterday was not about what he cost his teammates and the new coaching staff the last six games——it was “I hope this (PED and coverup violation) doesn't tarnish what I stand for.”

So what is it EXACTLY that you stand for, Patrick Peterson?

Yes, your philanthropy off the field has been wonderful—-and that should never be tarnished, unless it comes out that your primary motivation for running your charity is for promoting your own brand.

Yesterday, instead of wearing a Cardinals’ hat, you chose to wear a “P” Patrick Peterson hat—-and below it you wore a “Rise Up Red Sea” sweatshirt. But, isn't this symbolic of what you stand for Patrick? Don’t you stand first and foremost for your own brand and your own self-promotion?

You were elected as a team captain last season. Yet, what does it say to the teammates who voted for you that when the going got tough last year you”desperately wanted” to be traded?

Were you standing for the team and your teammates when you did that, captain?

Were Cardinals’ fans, coaches and teammates supposed to easily forgive you after you didn't get your trade wish, because, as you said, you were “frustrated”?

You weren’t the only one frustrated—-how about The Red Sea??? Do you think the Red Sea was frustrated? You heard their cascades of boos last season, but rather than stay and fight, you wanted instead to run away. The reality is, you were a team captain who desperately wanted to bail ship.

Then—-in a spontaneous moment at the Phoenix Waste Management Open on the infamous, highly televised par 3 16th “stadium” hole this past February, you grabbed the microphone to make that moment all about you. You apologized for last year’s desperate attempt to bail out and then you promise the Red Sea that you are here to stay—-which elicited a loud cheer from the raucous crowd.

That was what you wanted every Cardinals fan there to know what you “stand for.”

However, it was about that very same time—-that you already knew that you were busted by the NFL for PEDs and you knew were going to be suspended for several games—-at least 4, maybe more. This makes your ‘I am not going anywhere” announcement even more dubious and calculated. In fact, your maudlin statement now seems like your own form of “waste management.”

Then—-just a few days before the NFL Draft when everyone in the Red Sea was so excited about the Cardinals having the #1 pick—-you grab the limelight again when you go into a social media tirade about the supposed “snakes in the grass” in the Cardinals’ organization, to the point of taking down all of your Cardinals’ related photos and getting the full social media support from previous Cardinals’ defectors like Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson and Rashad Johnson.

Then, finally, the truth of the matter was revealed that you were irate to the point of sheer and utter outrage because the Cardinals wouldn’t restructure your contract so that you could recover some of the money you were going to lose during your 6 week suspension.

What were you standing for there, Patrick?

And let me ask you this—-who is the real ‘snake in the grass’?

Despite all of your antics and the embarrassment you caused the organization, the Cardinals have gone out of their way to herald your return, with Kliff Kingsbury saying they’ve been circling the date of your return and with Steve Keim going as far as saying he would pick you up at 12:01 AM. (The irony of that is—-would you, Patrick, have ever said you would go and pick Steve Keim up at 12:01 AM following his 5 week DUI suspension?)

Yet, yesterday when asked about what the past 6 weeks have been like, you said “they have actually breezed by”, that you saw how you could have made a big difference in the games (thanks) and then concluded your answer by bragging about how sharp your golf game is these days.

When asked about your future with the Cardinals all you could offer were the hard cold facts about having 10 games left on this year's contact and being under contract for next year. You said, “after that, who knows what will happen?” Sure.

But it’s what you didn’t say when asked about being a “Cardinal for life.” that is most significant. The best you could muster up was “who knows?”

And, as for now—-”I’m here.”

Like you are doing everyone a favor?

Oh yeah, that’s right, let’s go back and remember who was awol for the Cardinals OTAs. You only showed up for the two weeks you were getting paid for.

What were you standing for then, Patrick?

if you were sincerely contrite about hurting the team and your teammates, you would have been side by side with them every step of the way.

Yesterday, you concluded by vowing to make these next 10 games “the best 10 games of my career.”

Why, Patrick? For the team’s sake?

Your rhetoric simply continues to smack of self-promotion.

But, curiously, after saying these will be “the best 10 games” of your career, you offered a caveat—-you said that you might have trouble tackling —-because, as you put it—-“I haven’t gotten an angle on a tackle since the Oakland (pre-season) game”. You said you were going to have to re-familiarize yourself with tackling angles.

Really, Patrick?

You’ve been playing football since you were toddler. You tackled like a pro at LSU when the NFL scouts were watching. Ever since you got your lucrative 2nd contract from the Cardinals, you have adeptly tried to avoid making tackles to the point where opponents deliberately run sweeps, off-tackle plays, reverses and screens to your side.

By now it’s obvious—-your spurious talk about tackling angles is another means for giving yourself mulligans and personal exemptions when it comes to tackling—-the part of your job that you hate the most.

if you are really about the team—-and you are fully committed to making it up to your teammates for the six weeks that they’ve spent balling their butts off while you’ve been self-training at your own leisure and playing golf—-wouldn’t you want to show them you have their backs, rather than ask them to keep covering yours?

Because...somebody has to tackle, right?

Are you asking the Red Sea, your teammates and coaches to cut you some extra slack if and when you make mistakes in the games, especially if you run and hide from tackles or slip or act fooled—-you—-as an 8 year veteran and 7 time Pro Bowler and self-proclaimed #1 best player in the NFL?

Isn't it true, Patrick, that privately you would love to see a contending team pull off a blockbuster trade for you the way the Rams did for CB Jalen Ramsey? Wouldn’t you love your photo (of you in your new uniform) splashed all over the front page of ESPN and every sports section in the world?

And hey, while we’re at it, isn't it quite possible, Patrick, that if a contending team trades for you and you happen to help that team win a Super Bowl, that, as was recently the case with WR Anquan Boldin, you would choose to retire with that team and not the Cardinals, the team that drafted you, lauded you as a team captain and paid you handsomely?

A paradox is a contradiction that reveals a curious truth.

The Peterson Paradox:

By now, Cardinals fans know what the contradictions involving Patrick Peterson are—-or maybe not—-a Cardinals’ fan responding to Scott Bordow’s Patrick Peterson article for The Atlantic today wrote, “it would be difficult to trade him because Patrick Peterson is the most beloved Cardinal on the team, after Larry.”

But, one thing is probably for sure. Those who recognize the contradictions regarding Peterson may have very different takes on what the “curious truth” of the Peterson Paradox is.

Here is my take/opinion:

The curious truth is that Patrick Peterson is concerned about one thing more than all the other factors combine—-it is about getting paid top 3 CB money on a multi-year 3rd contract. Which ever way that lucrative contract arrives, will be a-ok with him, whether it be with the Cardinals or the Saints or even the Dolphins—-as long as he gets “the kind of love” that he and his agent think he deserves.

In my opinion, this is why Peterson took PEDs at this critical juncture in his career—-he wanted to have a monster season just in time to leverage his 3rd contract a year early via trade or a lengthy holdout with the Cardinals.

As crazy as this sounds right now in light of how contrite he should be in apologizing to the Cardinals, I firmly believe that if the Cardinals don't trade him this year, Peterson will still hold out this summer for a new contract and/or another trade demand. Peterson is fully aware of the fact that the Cardinals will be heading into this off-season with close to $80M of cap space. Peterson wants what he and his agent believe is his fair slice of that $80M and—-get this—-that the Cardinals should treat it as their top priority—-

When you believe you are the #1 player in the NFL and wanted to be treated as such, you and your agent tend to think along those kinds of lines.