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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The Vikings had 10 days to prepare for a home game against an injury-depleted divisional opponent.
They looked like they needed 100.
All that time, and their game plan included one interesting wrinkle – rookie running back Jerick McKinnon making his first NFL start.
They didn’t find a way to make Cordarrelle Patterson a bigger part of the offense. They didn’t fix their offensive line, which was dominated by Detroit’s strong front seven. And offered little support for rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who found himself under pressure all day.
The result was a 17-3 loss that was easily explainable, given Detroit's strong defense, but unsightly nontheless. The result was another horrid offensive performance and another division loss.
The Vikings are 2-4 after the toughest six-game stretch of their schedule. Had they emerged from this stretch with Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph and a confidence-boosting offensive line, the record would not be worrisome.
The way they’re playing is.
The only bright spot on the offense was McKinnon, who looked explosive with the ball and even handled most of his pass-blocking duties well.
But on a windy day that made passes flutter, the Vikings couldn’t run the ball or throw it downfield, and Bridgewater often looked like a man painfully aware of his circumstances.
A lot of bad ideas met up on Thursday night at Lambeau Field, their confluence producing the Vikings' 42-10 loss to the Packers.
Bad idea: Playing on the road on Thursday night. So far this season, road teams on Thursday night are 1-4, with the closest of those margins being 20 points.
Bad idea: Playing Christian Ponder in a football game. He wasn't just bad. He was unprofessional and embarrassing to the sport.
Bad idea: Playing the revitalized Packers offense without much preparation time. The Vikings' defense, impressive in three of the first four weeks, looked lost while trying to reach Aaron Rodgers, cover Jordy Nelson or tackle the previously ineffective Eddie Lacy.
The result was an unsightly addition to the annals of a usually fascinating rivalry.
It also offered evidence that the quarterback position is the most important in sports. With Teddy Bridgewater running the same offense last week, Jarius Wright played like a star, and Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon were highly effective.
With Ponder at the helm, even playing against what has been a mediocre defense, the Vikings couldn't function.
Now the Vikings have to hope that Bridgewater's ankle injury isn't a harbinger of future injury problems.
The guy suddenly seems very important.
I'll admit it: Baseball has turned me off this year.
With the Twins becoming irrelevant for a fourth straight season, I could barely stand to watch the game once the All-Star game bunting was pulled off of Target Field.
This week made me watch again.
Thanks to two former Yankees.
Derek Jeter delivered as only he can. He came to Target Field in mid-summer of his last season, and delivered a double in his last first All-Star at-bat.
He came to the plate for his last first at-bat in Yankee Stadium, and doubled again.
Then, after the Orioles scored three runs to extend the game to the bottom of the ninth, he got his first game-winning hit in seven years in his last at-bat at Yankee Stadium.
Sunday, Jeter hit an infield single at Fenway, then was removed, after raising his career batting average to .310.
Baseball gives us these moments more than any other sport.
Wednesday, another former Yankee did himself proud, too.
A rain delay kept Hughes from earning a $500,000 bonus for innings pitched.
On Friday, the Twins offered him a chance to pitch in relief to earn his bonus. He refused. It was the rare moment in modern pro sports when everyone involved in a supposed controversy came out looking good.
The Gophers' victory over Michigan on Saturday was the most impressive outing by a Gopher football team in my 24 years working at the Star Tribune.
Not since the program's glory days has the Gophers lined up against a power program and whipped them physically the way the Gophers beat up Michigan. It was a mismatch.
The Gophers had by far the better coach, by far the best running back, the better quarterback ,and the stronger roster. That shouldn't happen against Michigan even when the Gophers are at their best.
Jerry Kill is to be commended for putting this program together with basic building blocks: A sound, well-coached defense, a power running game, and a roster filled with well-conditioned athletes.
Brady Hoke is at the opposite end of the spectrum. He is an embarrassment to his profession. Even an average coach should be able to act as a caretaker of the Michigan program. Hoke can't even do that.
That he would re-insert a limping, concussed quarterback into a game shows that he's not just a bad football coach, he is clueless.
Mike Zimmer's challenge today: Limiting Julio Jones. Jones is the Falcons' best player, and maybe the second-best receiver in the NFL. Zimmer did well to limit the Saints' big plays last week. If he can keep Jones from putting up big numbers, the Vikings could make this a game. Jones is the one player who can turn this into a blowout.
So, which quarterback do you want the Vikings to target with their pick near the top of the 2014 draft?
That might be the only question worth asking about the 2013 Vikings.
Their blowout loss to the Packers on Sunday night leaves them at 1-6, with no quarterback worthy of even an interim tag, and desperate to fix the cornerback position.
Aaron Rodgers demonstrated how a franchise quarterback can control a game on Sunday night, whipping the Vikings with brilliant reads, quick passes, timely runs and flawless decision-making.
The Vikings start Christian Ponder for some reason, and he looked lost throughout the Vikings' 44-31 loss.
Of course, he, unlike Rodgers, didn’t have the luxury of throwing against the Vikings’ cornerbacks.
Maybe that’s the problem with the Vikings’ quarterbacks. They don’t see NFL-caliber corners until they play in games.
What was frightening about the Vikings’ performance on Sunday was that they played with evident fire, they benefited from iffy penalties that led to two scoring drives, Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown, and they were still embarrassed by a far superior quarterback and team.
Time for the Vikings to start scouting Johnny Football, Teddy Ballgame, and any other college quarterback worthy of a nickname.
I'll be guest-hosting the Judd&Dubay Show with Judd tomorrow morning, 9-1 on 1500ESPN.
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.
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