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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Posts about Tarvaris Jackson

Draft mistakes last forever

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: March 15, 2013 - 7:24 PM

This isn't to pick on NFL general managers or scouts. This is to emphasize how difficult it is to draft well, how difficult it is to differentiate between a guy who's going to become a star and a guy who's going to become a barista, and how a choice that seems inconsequential at the time can alter a division or league.

In the 2006 draft, the Vikings used second-round picks on cornerback Cedric Griffin, center Ryan Cook and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Griffin became a starter, Cook did not, and Jackson became a mediocre quarterback.

The Vikings chose Griffin with the 48th pick, and Cook with the 51st. With the 52nd pick, the Green Bay Packers chose Greg Jennings.

The Vikings just signed Jennings to a five-year deal worth, presumably, lots of money to fill their remarkable void at receiver.

Imagine the 2009 Vikings with Jennings on the field, or the 2012 Vikings.

The Bears chose Devin Hester with the 57th pick. The Jaguars got Maurice Jones-Drew with the 60th. And the Broncos chose Brandon Marshall with the 119th.

I used to make fun of the enormous attention paid to the NFL draft. I can't anymore. Seemingly innocuous picks can alter the league's landscape.

 

Tebow is the devil, and this week's LPR, with lots of thoughts on Cuddyer, Ryan and Twins

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 16, 2011 - 1:07 PM

OK, as usual, the headline is a little strong. What I meant to say is that Tim Tebow isn't the devil. I just think he made a deal with the devil. All this religious stuff is just cover.

Tebow obviously has sold his soul for a few NFL victories. There is no other rational explanation for him going 7-1 while throwing like a drunk Tarvaris Jackson.

On to today's highly irrelevant Local Power Rankings, which are really just a vehicle that allows me to comment on the seven major revenue sports in town:

1. Minnesota Wild.

Duh. Still the No. 1 team in the NHL. I wrote in today's paper how everything is looking up for the franchise, whether you're looking at the standings or young talent or realignment.

I asked Mike Yeo on Wednesday night if he looked forward to playing more games against teams like the Jets and Blackhawks. Yeo said, yes, ``we already dislike the Jets. And we already dislike the Blackhawks.''

The Wild could be quite entertaining for years to come, and I hope they find a way to land Zach Parise, who owns a home in Minnesota and would the front-line scorer this team needs.

2. Gopher hockey

We're seeing slippage. I love the talent on this team but have to be shown that they can gut through the long season and be at their best in the postseason. So far they've been impressive, but I still don't think they're quite playing to their talent level.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves

Yes, the Gopher basketball team has a gaudy record. But just holding intrasquad scrimmages means the Timberwolves have faced tougher competition.

I'll be at Target Center on Saturday night to see the debut of Rubio, Adelman, et al. And I'm as intrigued and optimistic about this franchise as I've been since Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell staged their mutiny.

4. Gopher basketball

Can we please get to the point where the Gophers stop getting praised for playing and beating lousy teams?

The Gophers' nonconference schedule is an embarrassment for the program and an affront to ticket-buyers. I'm not going to take this team seriously until it plays, and wins, a few conference games.

5. Minnesota Twins

While the average ranting fan demands that the Twins make a blockbuster trade or sign a top free agent, realistic observers of the team should be able to recognize that Terry Ryan is having a very good offseason so far.

Bringing Matt Capps back doesn't impress anyone, but Ryan has always believed that competent relievers fluctuate year-to-year, so it's probably a worthwhile gamble. He got rid of Kevin Slowey, which could have the same positive effect on the Twins that the Wild trading Martin Havlat has had. Jamey Carroll is the kind of short-term, inexpensive stopgap that could help the 2012 Twins without busting the payroll or blocking any worthwhile infield prospects. Ryan Doumit is a perfect fit for a team that doesn't know how many games its catcher will catch.

And even for someone who has known Michael Cuddyer since 1997 and thinks very highly of him as a player and a human, the Josh Willingham signing is a winner. Willingham is a similar player to Cuddyer and is less expensive, and Cuddyer's departure brings two draft picks to a Twins franchise desperate to rebuild its farm system.

Ryan has also signed a number of minor-league players who are more talented than their struggles indicate. And remember, Ryan's strength was always finding hidding gems, like Lew Ford, Alexi Casilla, Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Johan Santana.

Also: Bringing back Bill Smith is a winning move for the organization. I don't think he was a natural general manager, but he does good work in Latin America and in Lee County, where he's always had a great working relationship with the stewards of the Twins' spring training ballpark.

Smith is a valuable employee, and it speaks volumes about his selflessness and his relationship with Ryan that he would come back to an organization that just fired him.

A couple of months ago, the Twins' front office looked overmatched. Now the Twins' front office features Ryan as the boss, former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky as a valued adviser, and Smith. Those moves, with the addition of Gene Glynn as the Triple-A manager, should pay dividends. If not this year, then in the future.

6. Gopher football

Jerry Kill hasn't lost a game in a long time.

7. Minnesota Vikings

They need to keep losing and draft Matt Kalil, then land either a speed receiver or quality defensive back at the top of the second round.

The Vikings have a dozen problems to address, but as Jacques Lemaire always said, ``Solve one problem, and two more disappear.''

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Upcoming: I'll be at Target Center to watch the new Wolves on Saturday, then at the future site of Zygiopolis on Sunday to watch the Saints and Vikings.

Today, I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05, and sometime tonight (between 6 and 8) with Tom Pelissero. Tom and I will run Sunday Sports Talk from 10-noon on Sunday before the Vikings game (also on 1500espn). My twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

 

Lotta news and some TK leftovers

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: October 26, 2011 - 10:12 AM

Before I get to the news of the week, I'd like to share a thoughts from Tom Kelly that didn't fit into my Wednesday newspaper column.

I spoke with TK on the phone yesterday. He was at home, and that was a reminder that Kelly retired when he could have easily kept working and making $1 million a year or more. His friends have always told me that he's managed his money extremely well. The last time I visited Tom at home, he showed off an amazing backyard garden that he and his wife must spend hours on, and he seemed remarkably relaxed and happy.

Meanwhile his old friend and sparring partner, Tony La Russa, has padded his resume to the point where there's no doubt he'll be in the Hall of Fame, even if he keeps making mistakes the way he did on Monday night.

When I asked Kelly about the fact that some national writers are comparing this World Series to the 1991 classic, Kelly didn't seem too impressed. But then he mentioned something I didn't expect.

``I thought we pitched pretty well in '91,'' Kelly said. ``Scotty Erickson had some trouble, but we all know he was pitching with a bad elbow. He went out there when maybe he shouldn't have, and that's something I'll have to live with.''

It is well-known that Erickson pitched through elbow pain. And after dominating in 1991, Erickson was never quite the same. I thought it was remarkable that after all this time, Kelly would still feel regrets about Erickson putting himself at risk.

Next time you want to celebrate that '91 team, you might want to remember Erickson's guts, as well as Puckett's homer and Jack Morris' glare.

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My old Dallas Morning News colleague Blackie Sherrod used to write a Sunday notes column called ``Scattershooting.'' Well, ``colleague'' is too strong a word. I don't know if Sherrod knew who I was.

But ``scattershooting'' is a good way to get to the news of the day today...

1. It's easy to bash Bernard Berrian today. He deserves it. He's been an unproductive pain in the butt for too long. But before we all rip the Vikings for ever signing him, let's remember that he had a very good season in 2008 while playing with Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson. He  caught 48 passes for 964 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging an impressive 20.1 yards per catch.

His career turned when Brett Favre came to town and decided he didn't trust Berrian a whole lot. If Favre had thrown to a wide-open Berrian in the NFC championship game, instead of forcing a pass to Sidney Rice that was intercepted, Berrian could have been a part of a Super Bowl winner.

I'm not excusing Berrian's play or behaviour the last two years. He deserved to get cut. I'm just saying that the guy wasn't a complete bust until 2010.

2. The Vikings made the right move, suspending Chris Cook without pay. I don't know if much more needs to be said.

3. After speaking with a few people, I think Joe Nathan probably is gone for good. I sense that he wants to pitch for a winner, and I don't think the Twins currently qualify. I also think that once he hits the open market his feelings of allegiance to the Twins will disappear. Just a guess at this point, but that's the guess I'm going with.

4. Yes, the Jerry Kill contract is a joke. The man agreed to five-year deal. Then he started 1-6 while his team was embarrassed in every Big Ten game it played. Also: He suffered a seizure on the sideline.

I think the University should have stuck to its five-year deal. Adding two more years, and offering a raise, is foolishness.

5. Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 today with Reusse and Mackey.

6. I'm hearing Game 6 of the World Series will be postponed. There's also rain in the forecast for tomorrow night. This could be a long week, and I think the longer it lasts, the more of an advantage the Cardinals have, because every day of postponement is a day of rest for ace Chris Carpenter.

7. Tom Pelissero and myself will conduct Sunday Sports Talk from Carolina on Sunday. We'll be there to cover the Vikings game, and will be on from 10-noon locally.

My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib, and I"ll be tweeting from Winter Park today.

 

`Was it worth it?' and other assorted opinions

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 3, 2011 - 1:25 PM

 

A friend posed this question about Brett Favre: Was he worth it?

Was he worth the money? The headaches? Was it the right decision to bring him in for two years, one of which was brilliant but ended in frustration, and the other which never veered from frustration?

Because he just finished the most pathetic season of his career and brought the Vikings crashing to earth, and because he did so while endlessly praising himself and focusing on his career achievements _ because he might be the most self-centered human in an industry filled with self-centered humans _ it’s easy to say that the Vikings should have passed on him before the 2009 season and saved themselves a lot of trouble.

Even though Favre drove me nuts, I have to say that it was worth it, that the Vikings were absolutely right to give this a shot.

Favre almost reached a Super Bowl the Vikings well could have won. He gave us one of the most dramatic and compelling seasons in franchise history. He gave us lots to talk about. And he became a fascinating psychological study, in good times and bad.

I’d do it all again. Sport is entertainment, and the guy frequently entertained.

He's fascinating. Just not always in a good way.

 

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One of the problems with interviewing athletes is that sometimes they answer. And often, when they speak, they make little sense.

I’m in favor of the Vikings hiring Leslie Frazier, but not for the reason most Viking players give for hiring him: That he played in the NFL.

What a stupid concept. I’d say 98 percent of the players who make it to the NFL should never be considered as NFL head coaches.

The best coach in the NFL, Bill Belichick, didn’t play in the NFL. He was a college lacrosse player. A college lacrosse player! (He played football, too, at Wesleyan, but he was better at lacrosse.)

The second-best coach in the NFL, Andy Reid, didn’t play in the NFL.

Let’s see, Mike Tomlin, who is extremely popular with players, didn’t play in the NFL. He became the youngest head coach ever to win a Super Bowl.

I could go on, but you get the point.

So stop saying you like Frazier because he played in the league. It’s like saying J.R. Rider is qualified to be an NBA coach because he played in the league.

 

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Glad to see the Wild win a few games recently, because if they hadn’t, Todd Richards might be gone by now, and that would be ridiculous.

If you’re going to hire an inexperienced coach to take over what is essentially a rebuilding team, you’d better show a little patience.

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Remember when Gophers women’s basketball mattered? I do. Lindsay Whalen made it a must-watch program.

There may be help on the way. I’ve been watching Rachel Banham play basketball since she was a little girl in Lakeville, and next year she’ll be a freshman at the U.

She played point guard for the Lakeville North team that won the state title last year. She is remarkably skilled and poised, and she plays with great flair. It’s hard to imagine another Whalen resurrecting the program, but Banham at least will be highly entertaining.

(By the way, Banham’s father, Don, works security for Vikings games.)

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A billboard in Detroit on Monday morning displayed this score:

Michigan State 34, Wisconsin 24.

Not that Sparty lives in the past.

Wonder when they’ll put the Alabama score up there?

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My print and radio colleague Patrick Reusse has been making the point that we haven’t shown a great deal of ambition when it comes to finding football coaches around here, that we seem to have standards low enough that we’re willing to accept Jerry Kill and Leslie Frazier - a MAC coach and an interim coach who went 3-3.

Maybe I’m a sucker for a good story, but I like both hires.

Now, Joel Maturi hired Kill because he had no chance at luring a big-name coach to the U, but he may have lucked out with Kill, a real coach who should at least return the Gophers to relevance.

And I don’t hold it against Frazier that he went 3-3 under these circumstances. His quarterbacks were a battered, weary Brett Favre, a perpetually discombobulated Tarvaris Jackson and a rookie out of UAB.

I like both of their back stories. They both grew up poor and worked diligently to climb through the coaching ranks. I’d rather give a chance to someone with that profile than a ``star’’ coach who may have nothing more going for him than name recognition, and who may be looking for nothing more than a bridge to a luxurious retirement.

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One of my favorite bands, the Twin-Cities based Jayhawks, are getting back together, and will play on Jan. 29 at First Avenue.

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Going through security in Detroit today, I saw a nice-looking middle-aged woman patted down - well, actually, it was more of a full-body rub-down - by a TSA agent.

Someday, I want to live in America again.

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Am I the only person in town who thinks that the Wolves are suddenly the most intriguing team in town?

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Upcoming: I’ll be on 1500espn at 2:40 p.m. today through Friday, and I'll be watching the Gophers trying to win their first Big Ten game on Tuesday.

 

Settling in at snowy TCF Bank

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 20, 2010 - 4:49 PM

I'm sitting in the press box at TCF Bank Stadium, and the grounds crew is peeling a section of tarp off the 30-yard-line. The snow is coming down the way the flakes fall in a snow globe, swirling about. I'm not sure I've ever seen conditions quite like this.

The good news for the players is that snow means relatively warm temperatures, so the field shouldn't be too frozen. But it's going to be sloppy all night.

It will also be memorable. Whether you're in the stadium or watching on TV, you'll remember this game. Weather games are like that.

My new stadium recommendation: Add somewhere between 10 and 40 thousand seats to TCF Bank Stadium, and let the Vikings play here. Don't pump any more money into the Metrodome; the place is a wreck. Put whatever money you would have put into repairs and upkeep at the Dome into TCF Bank, and our problems are solved.

-What do you think Tarvaris Jackson and Joe Webb will be telling each other on the sideline if Brett Favre big-foots Webb out of a start on national tv? I'd love to hear that conversation.

-I'll be on 1500espn with Joe Anderson at about 6:15 tonight, and I'm filling in for Reusse on the station from noon-2 with Phil Mackey on Tuesday and Wednesday.

-I'm more intrigued by the Wolves than I have been for years. Love is an All-Star. Beasley is a gifted scorer. Darko is a solid inside presence (when he plays.) Martell Webster is a real find. Now all they need is a point guard and a willingness to play team defense.

Spoke with Wolves assistant GM Tony Ronzone on my Sunday radio show, and he said he believes this team is so talented that once these guys learn how to win, they could run off a bunch of victories. I'm not sure learning how to play defense comes that quickly, but if this team could find a way to get a key stop once in a while, it could suddenly look like one of the most promising teams in the league.

-I wanted the Twins to trade for Zach Greinke, but was told the Royals didn't want to trade inside the division - especially with a team that has dominated the division. Too bad. Greinke could have put a scare into the Yankees as well as the White Sox.

 

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