Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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So, the day I write a column about how entertaining the NFL draft and even Rick Spielman are, we have one of the most boring first rounds in memory.
The Vikings' pick was boring, too. Logical, but boring.
Since Spielman hired Mike Zimmer and Zimmer hired Norv Turner, it's remarkable how linked their player evaluation and player development has been.
Zimmer saw a great player in the quite-raw Anthony Barr, and he was right on. Turner ignored Teddy Bridtgewater's horrendous pro day, saw a fine quarterback with a fixable flaw, and he was right on.
Trae Waynes is another player with outstanding physical skills who Zimmer thinks will fit his system and approach. Zimmer has built enough credibility that it's difficult to question him.
I'm sure Spielman wanted to trade down and pick up extra picks. I'm also sure that every other team picking from 10-20 would have traded down, meaning Spielman had no viable trade partners. So he took a player with whom he was comfortable, and with whom Zimmer wanted to work.
Not exciting, but it fits the Vikings' plan.
Wasn't there, but I was told that the NFL draft in Chicago was a little awkward. Nothing happening in the arena between picks. A lot of quiet, interrupted by booing of Roger Goodell.
Even though it's a TV event, the NFL should find a way to make it more of a party for those who show up in person. Every team does it these days. Why can't the league?
I picked the Wild to beat the Blues in seven, and it turns out I was a pessimist.
I'm picking the Wild to beat Chicago in six, mainly because I think if the Wild is going to win it has to follow a certain blueprint: Win one of the first two, win both at home, survive a Game 5 loss and win GAme 6.
The Blackhawks are still a superior team of skaters, but Devan Dubnyk gives the Wild a tremendous advantage in goal over the Hawks' duo.
An interesting Twins' development: It seems that every time manager Paul Molitor rests a slumping player, that player returns with a better swing and approach. Danny Santana, Kennys Vargas, Brian Dozier...Credit Tom Brunansky and Molitor, two very different hitters who seem to have the players' attention.
Today at SouhanUnfiltered.com, Strib hockey writer Michael Russo will be doing a live podcast from Chicago this afternoon. We'll tweet out the time later after we attend the Wild's morning skate. Other recent podcasts: Strib basketball writer Jerry Zgoda on the Wolves and North Stars, Strib football writer Master Tesfasion with detailed analysis of the draft, and more Russo. Thanks for listening.
Also, I'll be on 105 The Ticket with Bob Sansevere at 3:30 this and every weekday afternoon.
JImmy Johnson says he sees a lot of himself in Chip Kelly.
As someone who covered Jimmy in Dallas, and has admired Kelly's work at Oregon and with the Eagles, I agree. They're both cocky-yet-likeable mavericks.
Here's the difference:
Most in the NFL wrongly saw Jimmy as a rube, a guy who won in college mainly because he cheated, and because his rah-rah act worked on 20-year-olds.
NFL people are not underestimating Kelly.
Jimmy went 1-15 his first year, laying in the weeds. That's why Mike Lynn thought he could pull a fast one on him with the Herschel Walker deal.
Kelly has had two 10-win seasons. The NFL will not overlook him.
As for Kelly's wild offseason, I can't believe the ridicule Kelly is receiving.
Jeremy Maclin is an above-average recekver made to look like a star by Kelly's system. Kelly didnt' ditch Maclin; he just refused to overpay him.
Anyone who watched Nick Foles play full games instead of just on highlights knows that he was another beneficiary of the system. He was not an accurate passer. Sam Bradford should be better than Foles, if Bradford can stay healthy. That's a risk, but so is counting on Foles to get better. He regressed last year.
As for LeSean McCoy, he is more spectacular than reliable. Again, Kelly didn't so much ditch McCoy as seek better return on his financial investment. By trading McCoy, he got back a very good linebacker and cleared space to bring in DeMarco Murray, who is a better every-down back than McCoy, and better equipped to punish defenses that try to go small to deal with the Eagles' spread offense.
Kelly is doing what shrewd managers do - looking past name recognition to true value.
Radio on demand: My podcast will be at Kieran's Irish Pub (across from Target Center) at 5 p.m. tonight with former Gopher star and NBA analyst Quincy Lewis. Stop by, or listen live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
Wednesday, MIchael Russo and I will be at Liffey's Irish Pub by the XCel Energy Center at 4:30. We will be giving away a gift at that one.
Bob Kravitz, the former Indy Star columnist now working for Indy TV station WTHR, broke the news that the Patriots may have used deflated balls during the AFC title game.
Deflated balls can be easier to grip, throw, catch and control in rainy conditions, and it rained and sleeted during the game.
Kravitz is a pro, and the NFL has confirmed it is investigating, so I wouldn't dismiss this as a provincial reaction to getting blown out. The Colts can't make the case they would have won under any conditions. If proved true, this will further mark Bill Belichick as the kind of coach who will do anything to win, and with two weeks before his latest Super Bowl appearance, will give everyone time to reflect on SpyGate.
The simplistic will paint Belichick as someone who wins because he cheats. He doesn't win because he cheats, but his willingness to bend rules is part of the mentaility that makes him a great and yet thoroughly unlikeable coach.
I've forgotten most of what I ``learned'' in college, which for most people is just a transitional boarding school, but I remember taking a class called ``African American Literature.'' I read Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, James Baldwin, Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.
On Martin Luther King Day, this is a good time to remember what is spelled out so beautifully and achingly in their works: That America treated black people as slaves, then as subhumans, not long ago and for a very long time.
One of the things I always loved about sport was that it can be a pure meritocracy blind to skin color. But it wasn't long ago in the history of our nation that black men were not allowed to play sports alongside white men.And a shockingly short time ago NFL teams didn't feel comfortable with black head coaches and quarterbacks.
Let's honor today by continuing to chop down the stereotypes that enable racism. Next time you hear an announcer talk about a white player who ``works hard'' or has a lot of `grit,'' turn the channel.
When the Seahawks were getting whipped yesterday, and before Russell Wilson had completed a pass, I Tweeted that ``I still think Russell Wilson is great.'' I meant it.
He's never going to set passing records, but he has produced more fourth-quarter comebacks in his first three seasons than any quarterback in NFL history - 10. He is the first NFL quarterback to start in two Super Bowls in his first three seasons. He is winning despite a shocking lack of help from his receivers.
Wilson should wni the I-Just-Made-It-Up Herm Edwards Award. You play to win the game. Wilson finds so many ways to win so many games.
It was heartening to see the photo on the back page of the Strib sports page today, of Lindsey Vonn surrounded by her entire family.
I first met her before the Turin Olympics, and when I asked about her family, she said she no longer spoke with her father. Her father woultn't return my calls while I researched a long story about his daughter. I did get to visit her mother at her home in Apple Valley.
The photo shows both parents and Vonn's sister all smiling i nthe same photo.
This morning, Vonn broke the record for the most women's World Cup victories, an amazing achievement for anyone, but especially for someone who started at Buck Hill in Burnsville.
My impression of Vonn, having covered her at two Olympics: She's a powerful person, physically and emotionally.. Her ability to persevere without a relationship with her father and while traveling the globe to compete says something about her resolve.
Latest podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com: Michael Russo, Leo Lewis, Terry Ryan, Jeff Munneke. The Alive and Social Network, the podcast company owned by Sean Barnard, now has a studio in Minneapolis, which will enable us to do more frequent podcasts, and to bring in guests via phone from around the country. Thanks for listening.
Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was named to the NFL's all-rookie team by the Pro Football Writers Association.
He may not have earned that honor if not for the final five games of the season, when his lowest completion percentage was 68.0.
There are two complementary reasons Bridgewater surged:
1. He got better. He adapted to the speed of NFL pass rushes, he corrected his mechanics, he built strength during the season, and he better learned how to read NFL defenses.
2. Charles Johnson started playing more. When Bridgewater's most athletic receiver was Cordarelle Patterson, he was doomed to mediocrity. Patterson wasn't a reliable route runner, and young quarterbacks have enough worries without having to coach a receiver during the game.
When Johnson became a big part of the weekly game plan, Bridgewater suddenly had an athletic No. 1 receiver who could threaten defenses deep and run after the catch, allowing Greg Jennings to play his normal role, that of a veteran possesion receiver.
When Patterson was Bridgewater's most athletic receiver, his game-by-game passer ratings ranged from 41.3 to 98.9. When Johnson was his primary target, Bridgewater's game-by-game passer ratings ranged from 76.2 to 120.7.
While the defensive side of the ball could use a few upgrades, I think the Vikings' primary targets in the draft should be offensive line and receiver. Give Bridgewater time and an open receiver, and he'll do well.
Next podcast: 5 p.m. Wednesday at The Local with former Vikings receiver and current North High AD Leo Lewis. Also, 5 p.m. Friday at O'Garas, it'll be me and Strib hockey writer Michael Russo.
Can't say I'm better than any other mammal at picking NFL games,but I was lucky enough to go 4-for-4 last weekend, so I'll take another shot.
I'll keep it short and simple: I like all four home teams.
My only qualms about these picks: Aaron Rodgers' calf and Peyton Manning's arm.
If Rodgers is at full strength, I like the Packers, rested and with a dramatic home-field advantage, to beat the Cowboys. If Manning's arm regained straight over the bye,I like the Broncos' defense and running game, with Manning playing game-manager, to make the difference against a flawed Colts team. But I'd hate to bet actual money on Rodgers making it through the whole game, or Manning needing to produce a big game.
I like the way the Ravens match up with the Patriots. I also think ths is one of those trendy ideas that may not play out on the field - that the Ravens, because of their history of playing well against the Patriots, are prepared to win this game.
This is one of Bill Belichick's better recent defenses,and since Rob Gronkowski returned to health, Tom Brady has been excellent. I'll take the Pats.
The other game is the easiest to pick. Seattle should dominate Carolina.
So I'm taking all four home teams.Home teams win 72.8 percent of the games in the divisional round. That would indicate that there could be one upset, but I'll go with the chalk this weekend.
Having covered Cris Carter's arrival in Minnesota, I think the Vikings should do everything they can to sign his son, Duron.
He has size, he's able to get off the line of scrimmage, he has performed well against professional athletes, and he's the son of a workaholic and expert trainer of wide receivers. I think the Vikings' two biggest needs in the draft are for a large wide receiver and an offensive line upgrade. Signing Carter would expand the Vikings' options at receiver.
My podcasts are available at SouhanUnfiltered.com. I'll be covering the Wild game on Saturday, looking to write a Sunday piece about what, if anything, Chuck Fletcher should do at this point.
Enjoy the football weekend.
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