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 Vikings defense

Teddy's turnaround

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 13, 2015 - 5:09 PM

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.

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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.

Thanks.

@Souhanstrib.

NFL picks

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 9, 2015 - 3:44 PM

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.

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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.

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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.

@Souhanstrib

Instant overreaction to Vikings losing at Detroit

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 14, 2014 - 6:16 PM

Detroit -

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.

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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.

@Souhanstrib

Rhodes rates Calvin No.1, Jordy No.2

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 10, 2014 - 2:11 PM

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.''

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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.

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Did a short video with Michael Rand, speaking about Zimmer's work this year. Should be up on startribune.com shortly.

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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.

@Souhanstrib

Instant overreaction to Vikings beating Jets

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 7, 2014 - 3:22 PM

By Jim Souhan

In sports, you always have to grade on a curve.

An NFL team improving to 6-7 with a victory at home over a two-win team? Not impressive.

An NFL team without its star running back, playing a rookie quarterback, with its most talented defensive rookie out winning at a juncture of the season when some losing teams lose interest? Not bad.

When you factor in that two recent and talented first-round draft picks – left tackle Matt Kalil and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson – have become, respectively, abominable and invisible, what rookie head coach Mike Zimmer is doing is fairly impressive.

I picked the Vikings to go 8-8 when I expected Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph and Patterson to have big years. Without much production from those three, the Vikings are one game below .500.

They beat the Jets, in overtime, on Sunday, without much of a running game, with the offensive line looking leaky, and without a lot of high-end talent available.

Bridgewater made winning plays, and that’s the best thing that can happen to this franchsie – the quarterback inspiring belief.

If you’re willing to grade on a curve, that’s pretty good.


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Latest podcast at SouhanUnfiltered.com is up, featuring Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway on his career goals, and his new thoughts on Mike Zimmer.

@Souhanstrib.

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