Will DeAndre Hopkins Expose Patrick Peterson In Week 2 Matchup?

Expose Patrick Peterson

Arizona Cardinals fans want to see star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins expose former Cardinal Patrick Peterson. The matchup between Hopkins and Peterson will headline on Sunday as we look ahead to Arizona’s clash with the Minnesota Vikings.

After mauling the Tennessee Titans in Week 1, the Arizona Cardinals return to the desert in Week 2. On Sunday, they welcome the Minnesota Vikings to State Farm Stadium. The Vikings come into the matchup 0-1 after a tough overtime loss to Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals in the season-opener.

The Vikings roster boasts some exciting talent. Dalvin Cook is in the conversation for the NFL’s best at running back. Wideout Justin Jefferson was one of the league’s most electric young talents as a rookie in 2020. However, on Sunday, all eyes will be on Vikings veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson. A Cardinals cornerstone for the best part of a decade, Peterson earned All-Pro, All-Decade, and Pro Bowl honors during his time in Arizona. However, after a tumultuous few years both on and off the field, Arizona chose not to re-sign Peterson this off-season. The former LSU superstar then signed with the Vikings in free agency.

Cardinals Fans Want To See Patrick Peterson Exposed In Week 2 Matchup Against DeAndre Hopkins

Tables Turn, Bridges Burn

Patrick Peterson was well on his way to a Hall-of-Fame career in Arizona. However, during his final years in the desert, the wheels came off. A mid-season trade request in 2018 was quickly followed by a PED suspension at the start of 2019, with Peterson missing six games that season. The exceptional athleticism that made Peterson a star in Louisiana and Arizona began to fade, P2 no longer the dominant shutdown corner he’d been in the mid-2010s. Peterson got beat more and more often, so in 2020, despite leading the team in interceptions in 2020, the Cardinals decided to move on from one of their finest servants over the last decade.

The breakup has been far from amicable, with Peterson continuing to take shots at the Cardinals from afar. From claiming his departure was due to his ‘wanting to play for a contender’ to a distasteful social media post in the wake of Malcolm Butler’s retirement, Peterson’s once-concrete future in Arizona’s Ring of Honor fades every day. With his reputation tarnished in the desert, the consensus around the former Cardinal great has turned irreparably bitter.

Have Hop – Won’t Travel

Mike Zimmer’s defense is far less demanding on Peterson than Vance Joseph’s scheme in Arizona, incorporating more zone coverages. However, Zimmer’s affinity for press technique means that there are some Cover-1 coverages.

Versatility at safety and linebacker allows the Vikings to run a fluid nickel defense; disguise is a Mike Zimmer specialty. The Vikings deployed both single-high and two deep safety formations against Cincinnati in Week 1. What suits Peterson in Zimmer’s defense is the use of press techniques on zone drops. Peterson’s fading athleticism is less likely to be exposed on the back end of plays but still allows Peterson to play some of the press technique that made him a star.

In a diminished role, Peterson no longer travels with the opposition’s top wideout. Week 1 saw Peterson entrenched on the left of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow rather than locking in on Tee Higgins or Ja’Marr Chase. However, with DeAndre Hopkins spending the bulk of his snaps as the X receiver to Kyler Murray‘s left, Peterson will go head to head with Arizona’s best offensive weapon for much of the game.

DeAndre Hopkins Can Expose Patrick Peterson

Cardinals fans want DeAndre Hopkins to expose Patrick Peterson as a matter of pride. Yet, targeting Minnesota’s secondary should be a point of emphasis in Arizona’s game plan. Their linebackers have the athleticism to be effective against Arizona’s lateral concepts, and their defensive line has some stars too. However, Cincinnati saw success in all three levels of the passing game against this Vikings secondary.

DeAndre Hopkins is not a downfield flyer, yet he is shifty and elusive with the ball in his hands. Regardless of coverage, the Cardinals can exploit Zimmer’s affinity towards press technique in the short game. Hopkins can cause separation and create in the open field before zone concepts can fully develop; his second touchdown against the Titans evidenced his ability in this regard.

Murray must also work the intermediate passing game, which is integral in defeating the Cover-2 and Cover-4 concepts that feature prominently in this Vikings defense. Hopkins’ exceptional route-running ability will find holes in Minnesota’s zones; down-breaking routes, such as comebacks and curls, will be vital in defeating Zimmer’s scheme.

The Cardinals will scheme Hopkins open on Sunday. However, against pure man coverage, they’ll let him go to work and expose Patrick Peterson. One-versus-one, Murray should take the shot at Peterson, who doesn’t have the foot speed to hang with Hopkins. Peterson left Hopkins off the list of the best receivers he will face in 2021. Maybe he’s never seen that clip of DeAngelo Hall, but that’s okay. On Sunday, Hopkins will give Peterson a not-so-gentle reminder on what promises to be an uncomfortable homecoming for Arizona’s fallen star.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images

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