The football gods have been pretty good to the Minnesota Vikings so far this season.
They are 4-2 and duking it out with Chicago for first place in the NFC North, with impressive victories over the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions. They are getting some very good play out of their 2012 draft class. Second year quarterback Christian Ponder is showing the kind of development that makes him look like he could be the long-term answer for the Vikings at the position. It's been pretty quiet as far as locker room or off-the-field issues. And they haven't been hit by any major injuries.
But wide receiver Jerome Simpson is doing his best to break up this tranquility, and today he let it be known that he's still not happy he was deactivated for the Washington game, and money is at the root of his unhappiness.
A few points I'd like to touch on here:
1. Head coach Leslie Frazier is handling this very well. Simpson wants to play badly and he's no doubt lobbying Frazier hard about this (so is Simpson's agent, probably). Frazier let Simpson play against Tennessee when the leg/back injury first flared up and Simpson couldn't get anything done. Frazier isn't about to let that happen again - even if Simpson is pissed at his head coach for costing him nearly $60,000 last week. Frazier's thinking of the team here, not about Simpson's feelings or his pocketbook. And that's the way it should be. The Vikings can't be dressing guys who can't help them win football games on Sundays (so why are they dressing John Carlson, you ask? That's a post for another day, I think).
2. If Simpson has a back injury, as ESPN 1500's Tom Pelissero has said (Simpson continues to insist it's a calf injury and nothing is wrong with his back), don't expect him to play much again this season. The Vikings say they are going to try to get Simpson right through treatment. But a back is a delicate thing, and it's not something you can play through – or would even want to play through. I suspect the treatment the Vikings are giving Simpson won't help much and he'll be having season-ending surgery sooner rather than later.
3. If that happens, we'll probably read about how Simpson's absence will be a big loss to the Vikings passing game. Theoretically, that's true. But the Vikings are 4-2 and they've scored 20-plus points in every game this season with little help from Simpson. He's basically only played one game, the 20-13 win against Detroit, and it's impossible to say what Simpson can do for this offense. The unit sure could use a wide receiver to stretch the field and take some pressure off of Percy Harvin. Simpson just hasn't been able to show he's the guy who can do that because he's barely been on the field. And the Vikings have learned to do without him. Losing Simpson for the rest of the year might even end up being a benefit if it forces Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to send Harvin on more deep passing routes. I know, I know. That's just crazy talk, isn't it?