BY: ED COLE
TEMPE, Ariz. – Patrick Peterson’s one of the most confident men in the world. Even when his play wasn’t up to his standards last season, his confidence never wavered.
He was brutally honest about himself and why his play wasn’t as good as it was in the three years prior, or even where it is to this day.
“I knew what held me back last year: I was fat, and I couldn’t make any plays,” Peterson said. “I was one or two steps behind making a play. I knew what kept me back last year of hindering my play.”
It was a little bit funny and shocking to hear Peterson come out and be that honest with the media about why he took a step back last season.
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher bristled a bit when he was asked if he agreed with Peterson’s assessment of himself in 2014.
“No, I got another characteristic of (Patrick),” Bettcher said. “Obviously he didn’t have the season a year ago that meets his expectations as a player. He did whatever it took, whatever was necessary in the offseason from a training standpoint, (from a) mindset standpoint to have the type of season he’s having right now.”
“I think the great thing about Pat is, right now, he’s looking for things that he needs to improve, and to me, that’s a sign of a guy that’s an All-Pro, a guy that’s going to leave a great legacy in this league,” Bettcher said. “Every week, every day in practice, he’s looking for those things, those minute details that he can continue to improve (on).”
All the extra work that Bettcher says Peterson’s been putting in has clearly paid dividends for him on the gridiron, but it’s also helped his confidence and his belief in himself get even stronger.
“Confidence will never leave me. (It’ll) never ever leave,” Peterson said. “I can care less if I was the worst corner(back) in the league last year, I’m still going to have high confidence (in myself), I’m still going to play at a high level, if my body allows me to, but my confidence will never shy away. I’ll always have high confidence in myself.”
Peterson had a chance to hang out with some of the greats in the sporting world this past offseason: Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Ray Lewis, Deion Sanders and others, in order to see how they got to the pinnacle in their respective sports.
What Peterson learned from these greats was to let his play speak for him, but, at the same time, don’t be afraid to open up your mouth and speak when you feel something needs to be said, like he did in calling a defense only meeting on Monday, which, by all accounts, was well attended.
“What those guys were telling me (is), if I’m playing at a high level, and I speak, my words carry a little bit more,” Peterson said. “Especially now that I have that ‘C’ (Captain) on my chest, although I am more vocal, I want to let my play do the talking, so guys know. I’m not just out there talking, I just don’t want to get the best out of you, I want you to know you have to follow me as well, so I have to make sure that I’m always having high energy, (and) always praising the guys, because all the onus is on me and (defensive tackle) Calais (Campbell), because we do have that ‘C,’ but we have a ton of leadership. It’s just more pressure on the top guys.”
There’s been some pressure on Peterson to perform this season, but it’s not been a constant pressure on him because he is playing at a Pro Bowl level right now. He’s rarely targeted during games – even though he’s put on each team’s No. 1 receivers – because the opposition knows he’s got that wideout in complete check, and he’s a threat to pick the football each and every time.
“The No. 1 (wide) receivers aren’t showing up on the stat sheets, so I’m doing my job,” Peterson said. “I just want to continue doing that at a high level each and every week. I believe if I continue keeping guys out of the end zone, (and) keeping those guys off the stat sheet, we’ll have a good chance at winning. I think I’m doing a pretty good job this year. I just want to make sure I stay focused, and understand what teams want to do each and every week, because each and every week is different, so I just have to make sure that I stay the course (with) the game plan, and make sure that I’m dialed in, and focused on what teams want to try to do to attack my weaknesses.”
With Peterson having his health in check, and his confidence in check, he believes this is the best he’s ever played since he came in the league five years ago.
“No question,” Peterson said. “As far as mentally, as far as preparation, as far as my patience at the line of scrimmage, it’s everything I’ve been working on this offseason is definitely coming together.”