Cordarrelle Patterson on Thursday was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for November, becoming the first Bear to earn the honor since Devin Hester eight years ago.
Patterson catalyzed the Bears' first game-opening TD drive since Week 4 in Detroit on Thanksgiving. After offsetting penalties on the first attempt, he exploded up the middle for 57 yards, later adding a 33-yarder that began a FG drive before halftime. Patterson's 294 total yards on 10 kick returns over five November games paced the conference and ranked third in the NFL. His 711 total yards is tops in the league, and his 30.9-yard average ranks second.
Patterson also returned his seventh career kickoff for a touchdown earlier this season vs. the Saints, marking his third career return at Soldier Field but first as a member of the Bears. It was one of only six kickoff-return scores in the NFL so far this season.
Of course, the Bears knew they were getting the NFL's most dangerous kickoff returner when they signed Patterson this offseason to a two-year, $10 million contract. Where Patterson has perhaps surprisingly excelled is in kick coverage, making four special-teams tackles in November — including a potential TD-saver vs. the Giants in Week 12, when he also downed two huge punts inside the five-yard line to help the Bears stave off Big Blue's comeback bid.
“There’s a lot of players, probably, that look past special teams,” Patterson said last week. “A lot of people got a lot of pride, and because it’s special teams, they don’t think they can make a lot of money.
“But there’s a lot of guys [who] would die for special teams. Some guys, that’s all they do is play special teams. That’s their only job, so they go out there and play their heart out.”
In one of the more memorable locker-room interviews of the season, Patterson quickly clarified that he wouldn't really die for football — "Sorry, I love it to death. But I'm not dying for it," — also quipping about his pregame ritual of playing catch with fans in the stands going awry when he accidentally hit a fan in the head.
The Bears' best-laid plans to make Patterson the ultimate chess piece in an offense with no shortage of explosiveness and versatility might have also went by the wayside this season, but Patterson's outstanding contributions to Chicago's third phase climb from 26th in Football Outsiders' special teams DVOA efficiency metric last season to No. 9 this year.
That should spur Patterson to his third Pro Bowl this season.
“If it comes, it comes. That’s a [popularity] thing. If you’re liked, you’ll make it to the Pro Bowl. That’s just how it goes, man. If I get liked enough, I’ll be there.”
There are few guys more likable on the Bears, and none more valuable on special teams last month in the entire NFC.