Jerome Simpson is supposed to be the savior of this team on the offensive side of the ball, or at least that’s what fans and coaches would like to believe. Last year much was made about how the Vikings have virtually no offensive weapons outside of Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, and the acquisition of Simpson was meant to address that problem. We’re still searching for that downfield threat that Bernard Berrian was supposed to be. Someone big and fast, who can stretch the field with their speed as well as go up top over a smaller cornerback to pluck a ball out of the air. Sidney Rice technically fit the bill, but let’s be honest, outside of one good season with Brett Favre throwing to him, Rice was never really outstanding.
But now we have Jerome Simpson. We’ve all seen the front flip into the endzone that made him famous last year. We all saw that crazy catch he made over Chris Cook’s head during training camp. In the second preseason game we saw him hurdle over a defender who was trying to go low on him, and consequently gained an extra few yards. All of this is great, he’s a great athlete who’s shown that he can make plays, but is he the big time receiver that the Vikings so desperately need?
Last year Simpson had 725 receiving yards on a team where he was not the number one receiver. That’s not too bad when compared to what the Vikings had going on (if you take a look at the Packers receiving stats for last year it’s a lot less impressive). Simpson should be able to make an immediate impact, and is definitely an upgrade over anything we currently have, sans Harvin. Due to a suspension he’ll miss the first three games, but upon his return is expected to jump right into a starting spot next to Harvin. The hope is that a new environment and a new team will help spur Simpson on to the next level, going from a solid but mostly average receiver to a leading playmaker. That’s the hope. It didn’t work for Berrian, and as the Seahawks found out last year, it didn’t work for Sidney Rice.
Prediction time. I expect a better season for Simpson than he had last year. He’ll have around 1,000 receiving yards, and will compete with Harvin to lead the team in that category. His presence on the team will be welcome, but he’s not going to blow anyone’s mind. Don’t look for Simpson to blossom into the next Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald. He’s no superstar, but as I said, he is an improvement, and if he can take care of his focus issues and stop dropping passes then we’ll see great things from Jerome this year and the years to come.