Thursday, November 26, 2015

jerome simpson

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Monday’s are never quite as fun after a loss like the one the Vikings suffered yesterday. Your boss being a Packer fan and informing you that the football universe is now back in alignment after their hearty win over the Texans (and the Vikings loss) makes it all the more worse.

But it’s okay – today is a new day separate from the angst and irrationality of last night. I’m not quite ready to start sipping the purple kool-aid again but Adam has some notes from yesterday’s game that I promise are more level-headed than mine.

For whatever reason, he wasn’t able to post them himself. So, on his behalf, here are some of our favorite Vikings blogger’s opinions on last night’s travesty.

Mobile Quarterbacks

I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe Erin Henderson should have replaced Jasper Brinkley on nickel downs. Maybe Jared Allen needed to ease up on his pass rush and focus more on containment. Maybe Everson Griffen needed to take more snaps. Whatever the issue, this Vikings defense struggles with mobile quarterbacks, and that could prove to be an issue down the stretch. Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler are both on the schedule, twice each, between now and the end of the season.

I Hate Those Penalties

I have said it a few times that the week two performance against Indianapolis was one of the worst games the Vikings have played in recent memory. A huge part of that reasoning is the disdain I have for penalties and this most recent game against Washington had that same feel. Too many penalties, too undisciplined.

A Whole New Appreciation For Harvin

The Vikings performed better against Washington than they did against Indy earlier this season, and had some better individual performances, but once again Percy Harvin is the biggest silver lining following the “L.” I want to make a fresh point about Harvin, however. After watching Matt Stafford flip the football, Victor Cruz salsa dance, Jared Allen rope a cow when his team is losing, and RGIII act like he is auditioning for Glee, I love how professional and sensible Harvin is during his moments of dominance. After a big play, it seems to take him about a nanosecond before he is focused on making the next big play. Chris Kluwe called Harvin the hardest working player in football following Sunday’s loss, and I believe him, because he is all business for 60 straight minutes.

“Lack Of A Deep Threat” Is A Myth

I keep hearing that Jerome Simpson is the Vikings only deep threat. If that is truly the case, then the Vikings front office and coaching staff have pinned themselves into a corner that is inexcusable. If your only way to stretch the field is a street free agent beginning the year on suspension, then you have screwed up.

I don’t think that is the case, however, so it frustrates me to see Bill Musgrave act like the Sunday morning pre-game shows know what they are talking about in the way he calls plays. The Vikings begin the game by finding great success in the run game, Washington adjusts to stop the run, and then the Vikings fail to adjust their own plan and take advantage of them stacking the box. That is not a good blueprint to have on tape.

Luckily, however, the Vikings do have deep threats besides Simpson and soon they will have to realize it. I have seen Percy Harvin be successful downfield with Brett Favre throwing him the ball. I know John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph can be dangerous running streaks down the seam. Heck, even Devin Aromashodu has made plays deep every year since joining the Vikings. If Michael Jenkins can’t get there, then how about giving Stephen Burton a chance to show us what he can do? The options are there but Musgrave has to acknowledge them and Ponder has to take advantage of them.

No matter what, though, put receiver at the top of your offseason priority list for the Vikings in 2013.

Loadholt Extension

I have always thought that mid-season contract extension should be used as a way to reward excellent play and motivate others on the roster. Last week, news broke that the Vikings had begun negotiating with starting right tackle Phil Loadholt whose contract expires after this season. I didn’t get a chance to give my opinion on the matter, so I’ll take the opportunity now.

Does Phil Loadholt deserve a reward for his play this season? Is he easily enough replaced or upgraded via the Draft or free agency? Will cheaper options be available?

I like Loadholt okay. He is serviceable. I just don’t see him, as he gets older, somehow becoming more athletic and quicker on his feet, however. I’m just not convinced he is worth a larger, long-term investment at this point. If I had a vote (which I won’t and never will) I would say to leave it be until January and then see where things stand.

Injury Free And Rebound Opportunity

The Vikings fell to second place in the NFC North with their loss on Sunday, but they came out of it largely unscathed and have a chance to get their confidence back against a pair of lesser teams. Leslie Frazier indicated that the team suffered no major injuries on Sunday, so that is great news moving forward. The Vikings had back to the Metrodome to host the atrocious-looking Cardinals and then get to play the lackluster Bucs. It is possible, if not somewhat likely, that this Vikings team will soon be 6-2.

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Gosh, is it just me or was this an incredibly boring set of early games?  At the time I am writing this, the Eagles are beating the Lions, so there’s that.

VIKINGS:  QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, WR Jairus Wright, CB Brandon Burton, S Mistral Raymond, LB Marvin Mitchell, OL Mark Asper, WR Jerome Simpson

REDSKINS:  WR Pierre Garçon, S Brandon Meriweather, QB Rex Grossman, G Josh LeRibeus, CB Cedric Griffin, G Adam Gettis, DE Doug Worthington


Jerome Simpson and Pierre Garcon both being inactive is huge for both defenses.  The downfield game could really suffer, and both teams will be focused on each other’s running backs and tight ends. Expect a lot of today’s action to take place between the hash marks.

NOTE:  Unfortunately, there will be no live chat today, enjoy the game everybody!  SKOL!

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Yesterday was glorious, was it not? I mean seriously, how could you ask for a more perfect day from the football gods? Is it wrong that I almost enjoy watching Green Bay lose at the last second to last year’s worst team as much as watching our Vikings steam roll over the Tennessee Titans? Part of me thinks that it is just unhealthy to hold so much disdain for a division rival. The other part of me welcomes it with open arms and cherishes it.

Seriously, though – who would have thought that after week 5 the Vikings would only have one loss (a loss at the last second to the same team that just beat Green Bay) and the Packers would only have two wins? I LOVE FOOTBALL!

(I hate fantasy football… But now is not the time for that rant.)

So, now that the dust has settled after the Vikings blew up the Titans, let’s look at some of the stories that came out today.

Harrison Smith Will Be Fined. Will Not Be Suspended.

(Edit: Apparently now Smith will not even be fined. Great news.)

From Adam Schefter himself:

A-friggin-men. Because, make no mistake about it, a lot of the success this defense is having so far through the year can be attributed to the rookie safety. And I’m not so sure if it’s just his own play but more so the attitude he brings to this team. When I watch this defense it just seems obvious to me that Harrison Smith’s intensity has rubbed off on his peers. People are flying to the ball, making plays, hitting hard, making tackles and, for the most part, not making mistakes. Not to mention Smith has had some game-changing plays himself…

I didn’t think it was likely Harrison Smith would miss another game because of the incident with the ref yesterday, but I was worried about it. I think Smith could be crucial in helping to contain a guy like Robert Griffin III next week (assuming RGIII plays – I’m sure we’ll talk about that more during the week).

Harrison Smith Ejected For Shoving Ref

As far as the infraction itself that has landed Harrison Smith in so much hot water… I think it was overblown. Smith did not grab the ref and ‘shove’ him out of the way. The way I saw it (through my purple glasses, of course), the ref was driving Harrison back (for an excessive amount of time I might add) and Smith just kind of moved his arm and attempted to side step the ref. It’s not like he was aggressive in the slightest sense towards the judge. Not to mention, did anyone notice the way the ref’s arm was firmly lodged on Smith’s  throat? Just saying… Either way – it is what it is. And I think it should be noted that Smith has shown great maturity by immediately taking responsibility and apologizing for it and accepting the consequences he will now face (a fine).

Harrison Smith’s intensity is great for this team and his personal play… But he does need to get his emotions under control so we don’t keep running into these personal fouls.

Jerome Simpson’s Mystery Injury

Our friends over at The Viking Age did a great job of pointing out some of the theories regarding Jerome Simpson’s mystery injury that kept him out of most of yesterday’s game. It seems that everyone is saying something different about Simpson’s numb leg…

Simpson himself told the media that he begin feeling the numbness in his leg the night before and that it “…just felt like my foot was kind of asleep, I guess.” The Vikings staff, however, is telling the media that Simpson did something to his leg during pre-game warm-ups.

The Viking Age have a different, unique take.

During pre-game intros, Simpson was seen doing some high-flying acrobatics. (Check out that link for a mid-air picture.) Or, in other words, it looks like he was jumping around and getting some pretty significant air (as he’s known to do). Could this be the cause of the injury? Wouldn’t be the first time someone hurt their leg during some sort of excessive celebratory maneuver, Gramatica.

And if Simpson did injure his leg during pre-game warm-ups as Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman are saying, why is he jumping around like that during introductions anyway?

Let’s hope Simpson’s leg gets its feeling back before next Sunday and he’s able to contribute against the Redskins.

In the meantime, here’s a fun little article highlighting the “Top 10 dumbest sports injuries” which, ironically enough, happens to include Gus Frerotte injuring his neck after head-butting a wall. How many times have we all wanted to do that during a Vikings game, huh?

A month ago, most NFL observers wouldn’t have guessed that the Minnesota Vikings would be heading into week five with only one loss.  Those that believed it to be possible certainly wouldn’t have predicted an impressive victory over the Niners would have been a part of that win total.

So, with the Vikings in sole possession of first place in their division (for at least one day), what can we make of this team as they prepare to take on a struggling Titans team at home?  Let’s take a look at what clues can be taken away from Sunday’s win in Detroit.

1.  The Special Teams Were Special Indeed

Sure, Blair Walsh missed his first field goal and Chris Kluwe continued to struggle with a couple of punts.  Outside of that, however, the special teams of the Minnesota Vikings was fantastic.  Percy Harvin made a statement on the opening kickoff in the form of a 105 yard touchdown return and Marcus Sherels followed up by taking the first punt return of the second half 77 yards for a score.  Walsh hit two of his three attempts, including a 49 yarder, but was a beast kicking off as the Lions never even got to return the ball once.  The coverage team struggled a little more keeping Stefan Logan bottled up on Kluwe’s punts, but nothing disastrous took place.

2.  The Passing Game Still Needs Work

Everyone is waiting for Christian Ponder’s light bulb to go on, and despite the 3-1 start, there is no question that it hasn’t happened yet.  He just hasn’t shown the ability to put this team on his back and will it to victory yet.  Sunday he was 16 of 26 for a measly 111 yards and no touchdowns.  In fact, his offense was really only responsible for six points, as the special teams scored the other 14.  That type of special teams production can’t be counted on every week, so Ponder and the gang have to get their act together if they want to continue winning football games.

Jerome Simpson was relatively quiet against the Lions, but he did make an impact in his first game as a Viking.  He played the role of field-stretcher which resulted in four catches, 50 yards, and two important pass interference penalties.  He was the team’s leader in receiving, but that isn’t saying much this week.

3.  Peterson’s Comeback Couldn’t Be Going Much Better

Many of us, including me, have openly questioned the team’s wisdom in bringing Adrian Peterson back into a featured role so quickly after his devastating knee injury.  Four weeks into the 2012 season, however, Peterson appears more than capable of shouldering a hefty load and making this offense better.  Against the Lions he carried the ball 21 times for 102 yards and added four catches for 20 yards, and has shown no signs of being hampered by pain or discomfort.  If the Vikings are truly going to embrace the idea that they can remain on top of the NFC North, then Peterson will be a main ingredient moving forward.

4.  Young Defenders Provide A Spark

Jared Allen got a sack on Sunday and did his signature dance.  The real story here, however, is the impact made by the youngsters on defense that should make Vikings fans hopeful when it comes to dreaming about the future.

Rookie safety Harrison Smith was only credited with one tackle on Sunday, but his impact was greater than his stat line would suggest.  Smith was in on a number of pass break ups with the most notable coming on an end zone play in which he dislodged the ball from the hands of Megatron to prevent a sure touchdown.  Rookie cornerback Josh Robinson was penalized (wrongfully) for a suplex-like tackle that displayed his strength, but his other seven solo tackles (tied with Chad Greenway for the most) did not go unnoticed.  The kid can fly around and make plays.

Perhaps even more notable were the performances of two of the team’s youngest defensive linemen.  Letroy Guion and Everson Griffen each had two sacks, including Griffen’s sack on the final play of the game, denying Detroit a chance at another miracle hail mary.

Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley also had a solid game, playing a big part in the team’s success against the Lions running game.  55 yards is all that Detroit was able to gain on the ground.

5.  A Tale Of Two Third Downs

On one hand, the Vikings defense was able to force Detroit’s hand on 63% of their third downs (and 67% of their fourth downs).  On the other hand, however, the Vikings offense failed to convert on third down 75% of the time (3 of 12).

Christian Ponder was inaccurate and inefficient on third downs, particularly when rolling to his right, and the Bill Musgrave called plays in a way that made me question the trust he has for Ponder to not make big mistakes.  The Vikings coaching staff, at some point, will have to take the cuffs off and let Ponder win or lose football games as a 25% conversion rate on third down is not going to win very many more games.

Football season is nearly here which means I am once again allowed to write about things that are, you know… interesting.  My old pal Darren Campbell from Kick Ass Blog asked me to do a little Q&A session with him and, of course, I was thrilled to do so.

We did six total jottings about various subjects.  There are three in this post and the other three can be found at his blog by clicking here.

4. Jerome Simpson – what will his stats be at the end of the season?

Adam: Should his stats be measured in yards or ounces?


All kidding aside, it is hard to get overly excited about a guy that will play no more than 13 games during the regular season. Heck, if this season turns out anything like last year, the franchise could be in complete shambles by the time he is even allowed to play.

He certainly has an ability to stretch the field and adds in some jaw dropping athleticism, but consistency has always been his issue. The drops need to stop. I’m going to be optimistic here, however, and say that he tops 800 yards on the season and throws in two or three touchdowns.

Darren: Oh, Adam, way to pick the low hanging fruit. I’m penciling Simpson in for 49 catches, 680 yards and five touchdowns. Not fantastic numbers, but enough to earn him a long-term contract in 2013 (whether that will be with the Vikings is another question). Like Adam said, consistency is an issue with Simpson. And is he physically strong enough to beat jams off the line and get open to make those big plays down the field for the Vikings? This team really needs a wide receiver (other than Percy Harvin, who is a completely different kind of player) they can pencil in for five-to-seven catches for 80-100 receiving yards every game. I see Simpson as the kind of player who will have some big games, but in other games will disappear.

5. What rookie has been the most impressive during training camp and the preseason?

Adam: It is hard to argue with Audie Cole at this point. A Vikings defender that takes advantage of bad throws? Then has the presence of mind to return it for a score?  Twice? In back-to-back plays?  Again, a Vikings defender?

That is just unheard of in recent years and I have to say those two plays alone have made him stand out more than any other rookie, including Kalil and Smith, and I hope he gets a chance to move up the depth chart to see if he can hang with the elite talent or not.

Darren: I like Cole, but kicker Blair Walsh has been the Vikings rookie who has looked the best to me. I did not like this pick at all in April. It’s hard for me to diss it now. He’s made, what, eight of nine field goals and he’s consistently booting kickoffs five-to-10 yards into the end zone – a nice change after watching Ryan Longwell’s kickoffs barely make it to the opposing team’s 20-yard line for six years. Walsh has been better than advertised. I do wonder, though, how he will react if he has a stretch where he misses three or four makeable field goals over a short period. Will he get the yips? That’s my concern with Walsh right now.

6. What unheralded Viking player has stood out the most so far?

Adam: I have only ever known two Dolphins fans in my life, but they both happen to be my best friends.  So, as a result, I have seen a Fins game or two over the years. That is why I was somewhat excited to hear that the Vikings had signed Lex Hilliard.

Hilliard had always struck me as an underrated back with some deceiving moves and nifty hands that was underutilized in Miami because of their addiction to the Wild Cat. To me, he appears to be the exact sort of Mr. Dependable that the Vikings need in their backfield as an insurance policy and a nice change up from time to time. His versatility is something Spielman surely considered when signing him, and I consider him a lock to make the roster at this point, which makes me feel pretty comfortable with the run game even with Peterson still on the mend.

Darren: I’m surprised to read that Adam thinks Hilliard’s stood out because I think he’s looked like garbage. There’s no burst there. No wiggle. No anything. I understand he’s a solid special teams player, but even giving him that, at this point I wouldn’t want to see him make the team. Matt Asiata looks much better to me as an option as the Vikings third running back.

But rather than continuing to rag on Adam’s selection, I should write about my own. Defensive end Nick Reed is a guy who has surprised me in the two preseason games. He’s tipped a couple of passes and against the Bills he consistently generated pressure from the outside. He’s bounced around the league a bit, and at 6’2 and 250, he’s pretty small even for a pass rushing DE. I don’t expect him to make the team; all I know is I’m noticing him every time he’s on the field. He might be a guy worth stashing on the practice squad. You can never have too many DEs who can get after the quarterback.

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