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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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.
By Jim Souhan
Had the Vikings lost on Sunday to the Bears, they would have finished a supposedly-promising season with a three-game losing streak and three straight blown leads.
Instead, Teddy Bridgewater overcame a slew of dropped passes to coax the Vikings to a workmanlike 13-9 victory and a 7-9 record, allowing perceived improvement to be matched by an actual two-victory improvement in the standings.
While young, undrafted players like linebacker Audie Cole and Adam Thielen starred, former first-round draft pick Cordarrelle Patterson bobbled the only pass thrown to him into the arms of a Bears’ defender, setting up a Bears’ field goal. Combined with Greg Jennings’ dropped touchdown pass in the second quarter, Vikings’ receivers cost the team at least 10 points.
The Vikings lost points again when their late-game drive died on a fourth-and-one carry by Matt Asiata that gained zero, and the Bears took over with a chance to mount a game-winning touchdown drive.
The Vikings’ defense held, and Bridgewater's last snap of his rookie season came from the victory formation.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be found at SouhanUnfiltered.com. JSouhan@startribune.com. @Souhanstrib.
By Jim Souhan
Miami Gardens, Fla.
In an attempt to make sure Teddy Bridgewater experiences all there is to experience in an NFL season, the Vikings on Sunday attempted an onside kick from their own 20 yard line.
It was that kind of day for the Vikings. Bridgewater often played brilliantly, but failures on defense and special teams led to a 37-35 loss at Sun Life Stadium, meaning the Vikings will finish under .500 for the second straight season.
Without much time to throw Bridgewater completed 19-of-26 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns. His only interception came on a ball that Matt Asiata bobbled into the air. But he’ll get credit for a ``quarterback loss’’ because the Dolphins shredded the Vikings’ defense, scoring touchdowns on five consecutive possessions.
The Vikings’ remaining goal: To avoid going winless in the NFC North on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium against the Bears.
Head to SouhanUnfiltered.com to hear my podcasts, including chats with Chad Greenway and Jarius Wright.
The Vikings offered a complete NFL experience on Sunday. They entered a game as severe underdogs, took a commanding lead, then gave it away, finally falling after giving up a late field goal and throwing incomplete on fourth-and-five at the two-minute warning.
They lost to the Detroit Lions, 16-14. If you like moral victories, this was one of the better ones of the season.
Teddy Bridgewater played almost flawlessly. It was the ``almost’’ that cost the Vikings the game.
He threw interceptions on two consecutive passes in the first half, turning a 14-0 lead that accurately indicated the Vikings’ dominance into a 14-10 lead at the half. He also missed a wide-open Jarius Wright on the last drive of the game, needing about 35 yards to set up a potential game-winning field goal.
With the Vikings’ defense playing well against Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford, Bridgewater again looked almost flawless in the second half. But with no running game to speak of, and kicker Blair Walsh missing one long attempt, and having a short one blocked, the Lions eventually wore down the Vikings and won it with a late field goal.
A victory for the Vikings would have been their first against a good team this season, and their first in the division. They need to beat Chicago in the last regular season game to avoid going winless in the NFC North.
Bridgewater was remarkably accurate on almost all of his throws. His bad throws cost him, and his team. That’s life as an NFL quarterback.
We'll have complete coverage of the game later tonight on Startribune.com, and in the Monday paper. (Buy the paper - you get to see Jerry Holt's great photos.)
My latest podcasts, including those with Jarius Wright and Chad Greenway, are up at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes calls Lions star Calvin Johnson the toughest receiver he has to face.
``He broke Jerry Rice's record, didn't he?'' Rhodes said. ``Anybody else do that?''
Rhodes pick for his second-toughest receiver to face might surprise you. Or not, if you pay attention to the NFC North.
``Jordy Nelson is the next-toughest guy I've faced,'' Rhodes said. ``The way he reacts to the ball, the way he runs his routes, the way you can tell that he's studied so much film, looking for an edge. That makes him very tough.''
After reading Mark Craig's cool piece on Adam Thielen and Cordarrelle Patterson in today's Strib, and hearing Vikings coach Mike Zimmer continue to hope aloud that Patterson will become a great receiver, it's pretty evident that Patterson hasn't or doesn't know how to apply himself.
With his size, speed and talent, Patterson doesn't have to become a latter-day Jerry Rice in terms of route running, or a latter-day Cris Carter in terms of competing for the ball. He just has to become a reliable and competitive route-runner.
You wonder whether he has that nasty compettive streak that other great receivers have.
Rice once told Bill Walsh to run a sweep on the first play of a playoff game, so Rice could start the game by flattening the corner assigned to him. Carter became one of the most dedicated athletes I've ever met.
Patterson seems like a nice guy who doesn't understand what it takes to be great.
It's interesting that Zimmer has taken a positive approach with him, while pushing harder with other young players. It's almost an admission that pushing Patterson might not do much good.
Did a short video with Michael Rand, speaking about Zimmer's work this year. Should be up on startribune.com shortly.
Today's podcast at SouhanUnfiltered.com is with Strib hockey writer Michael Russo. Tonight's will stream live on that website at 5 p.m. from Kieran's Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis. My guest is Jayhawks frontman Gary Louris, who is playing Thursday night at the Cedar Avenue Cultural Center with Haley Bonar. We'll do an hour of music and conversation, mixing in a little sports talk. Please stop by and say hello.
Previous podcasts on the site feature Chad Greenway, Mike Grant, Mark Craig, Glen Perkins, Craig Leipold, Russo, Paul Molitor and Ross Bernstein.
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