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Frazier's moves

  • Blog Post by: Jim Souhan
  • January 20, 2011 - 2:09 PM

 

Random and not-very-deep thoughts on the day in sports:

-I don't know if Bill Musgrave will be a good offensive coordinator, but I like that he's interested in highlighting the Vikings' existing talent, and that he's not married to the West Coast offense. (That's the subject of my Friday column.)

-My NFL picks for Sunday:

AFC: The Steelers beat the Jets because their pass rush will get to Mark Sanchez, and because Ben Roethlisberger is that rare athlete who plays his best at the end of close games.

The Patriots didn't have enough athletes on defense to either stop the Jets running game or hassle Sanchez. The Steelers' defense is good enough to do both.

I believe the keys to modern football are having a quarterback who can make plays down the field and a defense that can disrupt the opposing quarterback. The Jets are talented enough to keep it close, but the Steelers win this one, say, 20-17.

NFC: The Bears are far better than I thought they were, but they're not as good as the Packers, not the way the Packers are currently playing.

Aaron Rodgers is better than Jay Cutler. The Packers' pass defense is better right now than the Bears'. For the Bears to win, Julius Peppers will have to have one of the great postseason games ever by a defensive end. I think Mike McCarthy is smart enough to find a way to limit Peppers' influence, and the Packers' passing offense will roll. Call it Packers 34, Bears 23.

-If hockey players are so tough, how come, when a team is getting beat, it displays the emotional maturity of a bunch of 8-year-olds who didn't get their naps?

The Wild gets up early on Edmonton, and what do the Oilers do? Start cheap-shotting the Wild.

Toughness is taking a hit and accepting that, as a hockey player, you are going to take hits. Toughness is not whacking an opponent in the ankle with your stick because you're losing.

-It wasn't long ago that there were rumors about Todd Richards' job status. I never thought he should be fired, and now I think he has a chance to be coach of the year.

The Wild lacks goal-scorers and has watched its two top goalies suffer injuries, and yet Richards has the team playing its best. His players almost always play hard, they move the puck, they play inteligently, and when they score a few goals, they get credit for how disciplined they are on defense.

-The re-visit my last column: I'm serious when I compare Mike McCarthy favorably to Vince Lombardi. Lombardi was great in his era; my point is that the modern era of football is much harder on coaches. It's much harder to win championships in a 32-game league, it's much more difficult to manage today's players and today's media and today's workload, and that football has become increasingly complex over the years.

I'm sure Lombardi would have found a way to be a good coach in today's environment, but there is no way he would have been adaptable enough to dominate the modern NFL.

-It's interesting to see Leslie Frazier adapt to his new role. I asked him about that, about going from being friends with his fellow assistant coaches to telling people like Darrell Bevell and Brian Murphy - both exceptionally nice people who had plenty of success in their roles - that their services were no longer required.

His answer: ``It's a difficult process, especially in this case where you worked with guys for a number of years like I have. Now you're making decisions that are going to affect peoples' lives. It's a part of our profession. I've been on the other side of it. I know what's required and I know that my purpose in being here is to bring a championship to Minnesota. Anything less than that and we'll be parting ways down the road. That's the way this business is. But it's hard because you have feelings. These are friends. It's a tough deal, but it's the business we've chosen.''

Hard to argue with that. Coaches complaining about getting fired is like sportswriters complaining about deadlines. It's what you signed up for.

-I liked what Musgrave had to say about his offensive philosophies. New special teams coordinator Mike Priefer startled me, though, when he talked about the possibility of kicking to Bears return specialist Devin Hester.

To quote John McEnroe, ``You cannot be serious!''

Priefer said that if a punt unit executes properly, it can handle a good return man. That's what everyone says until they see Hester make all of their players fall down. You cannot kick to Hester. He is the best return man ever, and the rare return man who has demonstrated longevity. Without him, the Bears might have been a .500 team.

-In October, I spoke with a Twins official who said that the team would like to bring back Carl Pavano, perhaps to a two-year deal worth about $17 or $18 million.

Then, as happens in free agency, Pavano solicited other offers, and tried to find a three-year deal, and watched Ted Lilly sign a three-year deal worth $33 million, and must have believed that his market value had risen.

And then he signed with the Twins for two years and $16.5 million.

That's some pretty good negotiating by the Twins, getting the best remaining pitcher on the free agent market for perhaps even a little less than they expected to spend.

And for those saying the Twins need to spend more money to bolster their bullpen or their infield, please remember that the best Twins teams have not traditionally been those that had set rosters when they left for spring training. The best Twins teams have been those that have kept their best players healthy and developed key role players as the season progressed.

Right now the Twins have three end-game relievers - Matt Capps, Joe Nathan and Jose Mijares - and six starters, meaning one of those starters could become the long reliever. Let's say that guy is Kevin Slowey, and let's say that Glen Perkins is at last a left specialist. That would leave the Twins with one bullpen opening and a bunch candidates, like Pat Neshek, Jeff Manship, Alex Burnett, Rob Delany, Anthony Slama and the fast-rising Carlos Gutierrez, as well as the two relievers arriving in the J.J. Hardy deal.

This isn't a crisis. This is business as usual for almost any big-league team.

Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today, then on the station in Joe Soucheray's stead from 2:40-6 p.m. on Friday.

On the station, Sunday Sports Talk will feature appearances from Kevin Seifert and Tom Pelissero, and I'm working on a Wild or Twins guest as well.

Also, you can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib, although I wish you'd really just mind your own business.

Please congratulate me: I didn't mention Brett Favre once.

 

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