Thursday, June 7, 2012

National Friday League: It's June: we expect a "Good job, good effort!" for every attempt we make at writing about football.

Jerome Simpson
If you want to get excited about Jerome Simpson, check out this video at (more at Star Tribune).  Actually, don't watch that video too many times if you are worried about having fantasies of 10-6.  If you want to have fantasies of 10-6 watch that video like 300 times.

Hey, it's a great catch.  But there's something about seeing Christian Ponder chucking the ball downfield and then grinning that makes me feel everything is going to be alright.

Antoine Winfield
Antoine Winfield is still going to be important to the Vikings in 2012 (Pioneer Press).  Good: Winfield is one of my favorite Vikings of all-time, and I want to appreciate him for as long as possible.  Even if Winfield isn't as effective in coverage as he once was, a lot of the things he does that make him special at his position--tackling, blitzing, turning a game on a turnover--he should still be able to do.

Indeed, Winfield should still be able to make plays as a slot corner: tackling pass catchers to allow no yards after the catch, tackling on running plays, occasionally surprise-rushing a quarterback.  But it's also likely opponents will try to take advantage of Winfield by putting their speediest downfield receiver in the slot and forcing Winfield to cover him.  Winfield can be a really productive inside, underneath corner, if he's got safety help behind him.  In the Tampa 2, the safeties should be there to help--but safety is still a big question mark for the Vikes, as their safeties have been struggling for years and now they may be relying on two rookie starters.

So here's my guess: if those safeties are good, we're going to read stories about the rejuvenation of Antoine Winfield.  If those safeties suck, we're going to read stories about how Winfield is finished.  Neither story will have much to do with Winfield's actual strengths and limitations, but rather the context around those strengths and limitations.

Kevin Garnett
KG is ripping it up, and one reason Miami is down against Boston is how terribly they are defending him.  In Game 5, there were quite a few plays where nobody really bothered to cover Garnett without the ball in the lane (coming off a pick, running down in transition, Heat defenders seemed to get mixed up about who would cover him and/or got there late) and Rajon Rondo found him with a pin-point pass.

Zach Lowe with more.

I'd call that a clean symbolic transition
From '99 to '11, only three teams won the Western Conference: the Mavericks, the Lakers, and the Spurs.  To win the Western Conference this year, the Oklahoma City Thunder beat three teams: the Mavericks, the Lakers, and the Spurs.  Sports is like a thousand monkeys with typewriters coming up with Shakespeare: so much stuff is happening, a lot of it mundane, but every once in a while there's a poetic narrative beauty to what happens.

Kick Ass Links
If Christian Ponder and Matt Kalil play together for 10-15 years, that will mean everything has worked out just fine (PFT, Star Tribune).

At The New Yorker, Jonah Lehrer examines the science of choking in sports.

As soon as I saw it, I hoped this "Good job!  Good effort!" kid would become a meme (Grantland).
I hope right now a thousand internet people are putting that voice over to famous defeats or bad failures.  I haven't been disappointed with the meme (Sports Pickle, Deadspin).  Look, this is one of the things I like about modern life and the internet: you can't predict when a meme-worthy event is going to happen, but in all the stuff that is always happening, something surprising and amusing always does, and there are thousands of people ready to meme-ify it.

Jerry Seinfeld talks about the Mets (CBS New York, via New York).

I'm interested in how we create narratives out of the sometimes chaotic randomness of sports.  Jay Caspian King examines how we make stories for great basketball players (Grantland).


  1. Jerome Simpson's 2012: 50 catches for 650 yards and 4 TDs. That's a bit optimistic, but if it's close, then his 2013 could look awfully bright with three extra games and familiarity with the team. Perhaps he and Harvin could each find a spot in the top 30 fantasy WRs.

    Wish I could find the same optimism for the two TE system the Vikes seem to be looking for:

    Kyle Rudolph - 40 catches 420 yards 4 TDs
    John Carlson - 25 catches 250 yards 2 TDs

    That's a long, long cry from the Patriots duo, who will probably catch 150 passes for 2000 yds and 20 TDs.

    I'm hopeful for a perfect storm of gelling and strengthening from the Vikings offense throughout the year to catapult them to a very competitive 2013. If Simpsons learns and grows and Ponder matures and figures out how to use his TEs and the coaches come up with good ways to create interesting looks and spread the ball around, we could see Ponder hit 3800 yards in 2013. It'd be nice to see 25 TDs to 15-ish INTs, too. One step at a time, though.

    I'm hoping for 3000 yards from Ponder with TDs in the high teens and INTs in the low teens.

    1. If Carlson only catches 25 passes after that contract there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

      But the touches for guys like Simpson, Carlson and Rudolph are tied to more than their own individual play. To pile up stats like Gronkowski and Welker, not only do you need to get open, but you need sustain drives, which means the O-line must give the QB time to throw, and the QB must recognize who is open and get it to them. It also helps if your defense can get off the field now and then. The Vikings of 2012 struggled in all those areas.