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 NFL post-season

What does Rudolph drill mean?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 28, 2014 - 8:21 AM

MANKATO, Minn. -- Got a solution to the Vikings' problem with birds hitting the new stadium and dying.

Let's think about this. Birds flying into building. Legendary coach who loves shooting birds. That's it!

Put Bud Grant out in front of the stadium. The man is known to be a little miserly. All you have to do is give him $50 bucks, a tank of gas, and free shotgun shells.

Birds fly toward stadium. Bud lets loose. Dinner for everyone.

What could go wrong?

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Why would the Vikings sign tight end Kyle Rudolph to a $36.5 million contract?

Because they have big plans.

After spending three days with the team in Mankato, what struck me is that this team, after a couple decades of turmoil, has a chance to be somewhat stable.

Denny Green won a lot of games, but the organization was never calm when he was around.

Mike Tice was turmoil personified. Brad Childress was constantly battling with quarterbacks or bosses. Leslie Frazier was a calm and wonderful human, but he wasn't hired by the general manager who runs the team, so he was always in limbo.

Now you have a head coach hired by the general manager he works for who cares about nothing other than winning games. You have a coaching staff that Vikings employees say is already making a difference. And one of those coaches, offensive coordinator Norv Turner, is capable of building one of the best offenses in the NFL out of the parts he's assembling.

The worst contracts in sports are those that reward what a player has already done. This one projects what the Vikings expect Rudolph to do.

Rudolph has been a very good player. He has not been a star. In Turner's offense, he could become one.

Jay Novacek played five seasons in the NFL before playing in Turner's offense in Dallas. His best season pre-Norv: 38 catches, 569 yards, four touchdowns.

His first season with Norv and a budding offense: 59-657-4. His best season with Norv: 68-630-6.

Rudolph is bigger and stronger than Novacek, and about as fast. Turner spoke this weekend about teaching Rudolph to run more fluid routes, which should enable him to get deep more often, and to catch the ball in stride and run with it more often.

Assuming decent quarterback play, Rudolph could have a breakout season this year, or next.

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Wrote about receiver Erik Lora for today's editions. Other interesting or emerging players to watch: Cornerback Jabari Price, safety Robert Blanton, guard David Yankey.

Key player to watch? Maybe Sharrif Floyd. He's lighter this year. I don't know if that's a sign that he's hungry and in better shape, or a desperate move for a player who didn't make an impact as a rookie.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN-AM today and every weekday at 12:15 with Mackey&Judd. I'm on WJON at 7:05 a.m. with Jay Caldwell in St. Cloud every morning. My Sunday show, Sunday Sports Talk, airs 10-noon on 1500ESPN. Sincere thanks for reading and listening.

Manning pranked Decker

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 31, 2014 - 7:01 AM

Last April, Peyton Manning took three of his favorite receivers to Duke to work out with his personal quarterback guru, Duke coach David Cutcliffe.

That meant that Manning, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker spent some quality time together.

One night at dinner, the four received what they thought were their checks. Welker and Thomas actually received notes that said something like, ``The joke's on Decker.'' Decker received a bill for about $3,800.

``The table got real quiet,'' Thomas said. ``It took a while for Peyton to let Eric know it was a joke. Eric didn't know what to do.''

``Oh, I"ll get him back,'' Decker said. ``I haven't yet. I"ll wait for the right time.''

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It's a beautiful morning in New York. I'm at the Lincoln Center today for the NFL's major press conferences. Both coaches will speak, as will commissioner Roger Goodell. I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 and on 1500ESPN at noon, and will do Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on 1500ESPN, from New York.

Hear good things 'bout Zimmer, but...

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 30, 2014 - 12:50 PM

Speaking with writers who have covered him and various NFL people this week in New York, I’ve heard great things about new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.

The consensus: Zimmer is a tough, genuine guy, demanding but likeable, and forthright with the public and press. And that he’s also an excellent coach.

As the Vikings found with Leslie Frazier, having a likeable, respected head coach is a great organizational asset.

So why are the Vikings screwing up Zimmer’s first few weeks as head coach?

Zimmer has already hired all, or nearly all, of his assistant coaches, but the Vikings haven’t announced the moves. By the time the Vikings holds a press conference to introduce the staff, the news will be old, the Vikings will look silly, and the introductions will seem stilted.

 By delaying the announcements, the Vikings look hopelessly slow and obtuse.

Zimmer’s success and failure will depend on wins and losses, but it doesn’t hurt to make a good first impression, and the Vikings are making no impression at all right now.

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I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. tomorrow, and on 1500ESPN in the Twin Cities at noon. We'll run Sunday Sports Talk on 1500ESPN from 10-noon Sunday.                                                                                                                                                                                  

Sitting on a boat near NY...

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 30, 2014 - 6:50 AM

As I sit on a boat docked off Jersey City, waiting for the Broncos to speak this morning, I'm contemplating the Seahawks' divergent approaches to the demands of Super Bowl week.

Richard Sherman, the master marketer, has capitalized on the profile he raised with his post-game rant at the NFC title game by being accomodating, funny, glib. His teammate Marshawn Lynch has reluctantly answered a few questions each day before departing, risking a large fine from the NFL.

In my younger days, I believed that athletes should be forced to cooperate with interviewers. I still believe it's part of their job. But there is no effective way to make someone forthcoming, or interesting, or engaging. There are a lot of athletes I've covered I wish never conducted interviews, because the interviews are a waste of time if the interviewee has nothing to say.

Yesterday, Lynch had a teammate field questions. The teammate would then forward the question to Lynch, who was sitting next to him. Lynch would offer a one-word answer, then the teammate would offer an interpretation, attempting at humor, and sometimes succeeding in being funny.

if that's the best you're going to get from Lynch, that's the best you're going to get from Lynch.

Some people aren't cut out for mass media. They're naturally private, or quiet, or introverted. Lynch being uncooperative is actually much more interesting than Lynch using the more common approach of recycling cliches until everyone leaves him alone.

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I'll be on WJON IN St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. and on 1500ESPN at noon. Mark Craig and I will be writing stories, columns, notes and blog posts from the Super Bowl all week. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

Blasts from past at Super Bowl, plus Earl Thomas challenges Manning

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 29, 2014 - 1:18 PM

Got mired in a traffic jam in New York while hearing that Fred Smoot is trying to organized a Love Boat party and the Twins have signed Matt Guerrier.

In other news from the mid-2000s: Don't worry, Kevin McHale just assured me that the Timberwolves would never consider trading Kevin Garnett.

Even with a police escort, traffic in Manhattan is terrible. Not a complaint. I love New York. Just a fact.

What is surprising is how nice Jersey City is. We were in the refurbished Newport area, and it sparkles.

Anyway, after talking to a bunch of Seahawks with Minnesota connections, I dropped in to talk with Seahawks star safety Earl Thomas.

He was not shy. ``This matchup is everything that I want.''

Meaning?

``Peyton Manning. Future Hall of Famer. I want to prove everybody wrong, that he's just a man.''

Then he paused, and said, deadpan, ``Omaha,'' a reference to Manning's most-used signal at the line of scrimmage.

This is classic NFL behavior: A player working himself into a lather for no particular reason. There's no reason to hate Manning. There's no reason to dismiss his accomplishments. So Thomas is making himself believe that Manning is getting too much credit or attention.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN all week from New York, and will be doing Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on Sunday, from here as well. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

I'll be posting about my conversation with Tarvaris Jackson and my thoughts on Marshawn Lynch's behaviour later today.

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