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 Ryan Longwell

Stop whining, Vikes

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 17, 2012 - 12:23 PM

Jared Allen is playing in his ninth season in the NFL. He has been briefed on, and reminded of, the NFL's penchant for protecting quarterbacks. Whe he dove at Andrew Luck as Luck was running out of bounds, he gave a replacement official a chance to throw a flag, and the replacement official did.

The replacement official was, shockingly, right in this case.

Allen should have known better. He cost his team three points in a game that was decided by three points. The Vikings should expect more from one of their best, veteran players.

After the game, Allen told reporters, ``I guess you can't touch the quarterback.''

That's a silly thing to say. No, Jared, you can't touch the quarterback. Not in the head. Not after the whistle. And not when the NFL"s future superstar is running directly out of bounds.

Football is an emotional game, but a veteran player should be able to control himself in key situations. Allen didn't.

Other reasons for the Vikings' loss:

-I've been covering the Cover-2 defense since Tony Dungy brought it to Minnesota in 1992. I've seen it work as designed. Yesterday, it broke down when Reggie Wayne went right down the middle of the field from the slot and caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Luck.

In the Cover-2, the middle linebacker is responsible for taking a deep drop on passing plays and covering the middle of the field, which is left open because each safety takes responsibility for one side.

But no defense, not even the Cover-2, should ask a linebacker to cover a wide receiver, and certainly not an elite wide receiver. If you're going to play Cover-2, the safeties have to be aware of where the best receivers are.

The core philosophy of the Cover-2 is to force offenses to settle for short passes, allowing defenders to play the eyes of the quarterback. The Cover-2 exists as a defense against the big play. Ask a linebacker to cover an elite receiver, and you're defeating the purpose of the scheme.

-If the Vikings hadn't dumped Ryan Longwell for Blair Walsh, they'd be 0-2.

-I thought it was strange when the Vikings, in the midst of an offseason that was all about slowly rebuilding, signed John Carlson to a five-year, $25-million deal. The thing is, that would have been a silly contract even if Carlson had played well. As it is, Carlson has zero catches through two games.

Why, again, did the Vikings invest heavily in an injury-prone backup tight end?

-I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 today. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

Minnesota: The State of Football

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 9, 2012 - 6:29 PM

The Gophers and Vikings are a combined 3-0.

Of course, they should be, given the level of competition.

I'm not sure exactly what to make of the Vikings' 26-23 victory. They had awful lapses and struggled to beat a lousy team at home, but there were these high points:

-Adrian Peterson, the subject of my Monday morning column, carried 17 times. That's 17 times more than I would have given it to him and about five more than the coaches wanted to, but he looked remarkably healthy and spry. Without him, the Vikings lose this game.

I hope for his sake he doesn't spend the rest of his career on bad teams. He is a rare competitor and deserves to play for championships.

-Christian Ponder looked shaky early, but got better as the game went on. I thought the best thing offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave did was call a few quick passes to Percy Harvin late in the first half. That loosened up the Jaguars' defense, and calmed Ponder, who was at his best in clutch situations late in the game and in overtime.

-The defense was lucky that Blaine Gabbert missed a wide-open receiver for a touchdown and that Maurice Jones-Drew wasn't at full speed. Chris Cook should have played the Jags' go-ahead touchdown pass much better, but how can a receiver get that much space in that situation?

-Chad Greenway made a couple of key plays in pass defense, a good sign from a player who has to be more than just a solid run-stopper for this defense to thrive.

-Jared Allen spent a lot of time on the sideline in the first half looking very angry. He's done that before, but it's ominous this early in the season.

-Kyle Rudolph is going to have an excellent career if he stays healthy and Ponder remains the quarterback.

-Second-guess time: Peterson had two rushing touchdowns on which he was barely slowed as he got to the end zone. Vikings have the ball inside the Jacksonville 5 in the fourth quarter. Twice, Peterson is sent left as a decoy. Both times, the Vikings wound up with a muddled-looking pass play and no open receivers.

Don't over-think it. Give it to Peterson.

-Blair Walsh was awfully impressive. He nailed all four of his field goals, including the 55-yard that sent the game to overtime, and he boomed his kickoffs.

I don't know anybody who doesn't like and respect Ryan Longwell, but Walsh is making Rick Spielman look pretty smart today.

-Only six of Ponder's 20 completions went to wideouts. That's probably wise, but it also indicates that this offense is going to be very limited.

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I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 on Monday. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

 

Bountygate re: Favre

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: March 2, 2012 - 6:47 PM

Because Brett Favre is a fickle and mysterious human, you have to wonder how the Saints' bounty on him affected Vikings history and his career.

If the Saints hadn't badly injured his ankle in the 2009 NFC title game...

-Would he have run for the first down after the 12-man-in-the-huddle call? He had room. He instead tried to force the ball to Sidney Rice and was intercepted. Another first down and I would have bet a lot of money that Ryan Longwell would have kicked the game-winning field goal. Well, OK, I would have bet a little money.

-If he had either advanced to the Super Bowl or left Superdome healthy after a close loss, would he have been more eager to play in 2010? It was Favre's passive-aggressive attitude about playing that helped ruin that season. I can't even guess on this one.

What SpyGate and BountyGate have taught us is that the NFL is a dirty, dirty business. Even when defensive players aren't offered rewards, they often enter the game intent on injuring or intimidating offensive players.

I covered Floyd Peters when he was the Vikings' defensive coordinator. Great guy. And he wanted his defensive linemen to knock every quarterback unconcious. Sound harsh? These were the days before concussion awareness, when that was an explicit goal of every defense.

Football hasn't changed. It's become even more violent and profitable. I can't pretend to be offended by the Saints' bounty system because I believe that all defensive players are incentivized to brutalize offensive players. The Saints were just stupid enough to create a traceable system, and stupid enough to get caught.

Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

 

Vikings win, fall two games behind Indy for worst record

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: October 30, 2011 - 6:29 PM

Charlotte, N.C. _ Yes, they ultimately won because the Carolina Panthers committed a silly penalty that erased a chance at a winning touchdown and led to a missed field goal that should have tied it, but the Vikings did show some signs of life on Sunday, in their 24-21 victory.

I give most of the credit to the Vikings' first road victory since December to rookie quarterback Christian Ponder, and he's the subject of my Monday column. It's funny how much better the Vikings' offense looks in the second half since Ponder replaced McNabb. McNabb was at his worst in clutch situations - third downs, third-and-longs, fourth quarters - and that's where Ponder has been at his best.

I'm especially impressed with the way Ponder has handled himself throughout his brief Vikings career. Here's a kid breaking into the NFL without the benefit of offseason workouts or tutoring from his NFL coaches, and he's not only played well immediately, he's handled the demands of being an NFL quarterback extremely well. He's smart, he has a sense of humor and he never seems to be overwhelmed by any situation.

I caught Vikings coach Leslie Frazier on his way to the bus on Sunday night, and he is almost giddy, feeling he's found his franchise quarterback.

Also:

-Kudos to Percy Harvin for being one of the toughest players in a league filled with tough guys. I don't know how you play football with bad ribs, and I especially don't know how you make spin moves and fight off tackles with bad ribs, but Harvin did it, and his spin-o-rama in the fourth quarter was the key to the game-winning drive.

-Ryan Longwell has been a tremendous kicker and a tremendous professional his entire career. He's yanked two kicks in two games, though, and his miss on Sunday could have cost the Vikings the game.

-Funny how with a smart, mobile quarterback, the offensive line doesn't look so wretched anymore, even with Anthony Herrera out on Sunday.

-Adrian Peterson might be the best he's ever been. I don't know what it looked like on TV, but from the press box, getting to see the entire field, it's remarkable how quickly he is sensing openings in the defense. On his catch-and-run touchdown in the second quarter, most backs would have burrowed for a few yards; Peterson had the vision and burst to veer to the outside for what turned out to be an easy score. The guy is phenomenal.

-The lockerroom was loud after the game, and Frazier walked among his players, slapping hands and hugging them, and he took extra time when he got to Harvin. NFL coaches have to have their guys play hurt to survive, and Frazier had extra praise for Harvin.

-Tim Tebow stinks.

-Erin Henderson made a few key stops. He's acquitted himself well since joining the starting lineup.

-Jared Allen is having an amazing season. He and Adrian Peterson are two of the best players in all of football, which is why talk of rebuilding must drive the Vikings crazy. It's hard to rebuild when you have superstars on the payroll.

-Everson Griffin is an amazing athlete. He's 273 pounds and yet plays gunner on the punt coverage team, and regularly beats double-teams. I don't see why he can't become an excellent pass rusher.

-Upcoming: I'll be on with Reusse and Mackey on 1500espn every day at 2:05 p.m., and I'll join Tom Pelissero a couple of times this week, as well. My twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

 

I always miss the big news

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: October 7, 2011 - 5:04 PM
So the Vikings sign Cullen Loeffler to a three-year deal?
I could joke about the team's priorities, but the guy is good at his job. When I spoke with kicker Ryan Longwell about his decision to return to the Vikings, he said one of the tie-breakers was his ability to work with Loeffler and holder Chris Kluwe.
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I’m at Philips Arena today, prepping for the WNBA Finals Game 3 tonight. I’m told it’s a sellout, although there are curtains blocking some of the upper-level seats.
Spoke to a few Lynx players at shootaround. Center Taj McWilliams-Franklin seemed to be walking well on her injured right knee, but isn’t saying if she’ll be able to play tonight.
For those who haven’t been following closely, the Lynx lead 2-0 in a best-of-five series. If they lose tonight, they’ll play on Sunday at Philips. If they lost that game, Game 5 would be Tuesday at Target Center.
``Atlanta played great the last two games,’’ said Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen. ``We played well enough to win. We don’t want to give them any hope here. We know it’s going to be crazy in here, but you have to do anything you can to win tonight.’’

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Why do the Twins seem to helpless against the Yankees in the postseason, while other teams seem to handle them so easily?

Two reasons: Arms and attitude. The teams that beat the Yankees in the postseason tend to have power arms capable of missing bats. Twins pitchers pitch to contact, and when you pitch to contact to good, veteran hitters, eventually they’ll make very good contact.

Also: While they were pretty competitive in 2003 and 2004, the Twins have been complete wimps against the Yankees ever since, in the regular season and the postseason.

What you'll notice about the teams that have beaten the Yankees in the postseason is that they, and their managers, have been pretty cocky. The 2002 Angels, the 2003 Marlins, the 2004 Red Sox...up through this year's Tigers all had loose or fiery managers and stars who embraced the big stage of Yankee Stadium.

The likes of Josh Beckett and Justin Verlander qualify on both fronts - power arms with no fear of the Yankee lineup.

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There was a quick and predictable reaction to Delmon Young's productive postseason: Twins fans are acting as if they don't know him well enough to expect this.

Young has spent five full seasons in the big leagues. He is a horrid fielder and baserunner. Thus, his value must lie in his offensive production.

In his five full seasons in the big leagues, Young has had an OPS of higher than .741 only once - during his big 2010 season. He has a career OPS (on-base plus slugging percentages) of .749. Jason Kubel's is .794.

Young has two things going for him: He's got great hands, and he's still young enough, at 26, that if he started taking defense or his plate approach more seriously, he could improve.

But to get agitated after watching him hit a few bad pitches in the postseason is silly. You know Young well enough to know that this is an aberration.And if he wakes up and plays well for another team, that doesn't necessarily mean he was going to do it in Minnesota.

The Twins needed him desperately this season, and he did nothing. That's a better idication of his value than what he's done in October.

                                               

Upcoming: I'll be in Atlanta for Sunday Morning Sports Talk. Tom Pelissero will be in Minneapolis. The show is 10-noon. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

 

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