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

Griffen signing a risk, but so is every signing

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: March 9, 2014 - 4:08 PM

Rick Spielman had his choice of coaches, and types of coaches, when he began his search after firing Leslie Frazier.

He chose Mike Zimmer, a longtime defensive coordinator with a knack for getting players to achieve their potential.

This is why the Vikings' signing of Everson Griffen should not surprise anyone. Griffen is a talented player who has not fulfilled his potential. You can imagine Spielman, while doing his due diligence and interviewing Zimmer, having an ``Aha'' moment.

In that moment, Spielman envisioned Griffen becoming a dangerous every-down pass rusher, and easing the loss of Jared Allen. That is probably the moment Spielman decided to hire Zimmer.

Zimmer hasn't had a chance to make many decisions that will shape his tenure as Vikings head caoch. Two he has made stand out:

1. He encouraged Spielman to spend big money on Griffen.

2. He handed his offense to Norv Turner.

Zimmer's reputation will eventually be formed by his game management skills and his - and Spielman's - ability to find and develop the right quarterback.

So far, we can give him kudos for hiring Turner, and acknowledge that he was brought here to wring improvement from players like Griffen.

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I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. all week,and on @1500ESPN at 12:15 or so. I'll have a column on the Gopher basketball finale in the Monday paper. You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

The Zimmer hiring: Why I like it

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 15, 2014 - 11:36 AM

The Vikings' hiring of Mike Zimmer isn't going to fuel the imagination, the way Chip Kelly did in Philadelphia, or win any virtual awards for the best hiring of the offseason. This is a routine NFL hire, a team that struggled on defense hiring a defensive expert to breathe life into the team.

That said, I like the hire. He's succeeded as a coordinator in a lot of places, with different schemes and different talent levels. He's turned long shots into stars. He's motivated players. At 57, he's both tough and mature.

In the brief time since his hiring was announced, many of his former players have tweeted their excitement.

Zimmer is known for creative defenses and creative use of the language. Those who saw him on Hard Knocks know he can cuss like a late-night cable comedian.

I believed Leslie Fraizer would have won if he had been given a good quarterback and good cornerbacks. Zimmer will need Rick Spielman to find him a good quarterback, and he'll need to either hide the Vikings' defensive flaws or overhaul the entire unit.

Given the nature of the NFL, if Zimmer can handle the rigors of being an NFL head coach, he could contend in his first year. The Vikings have plenty of offensive talent and plenty of young talent. Whether or not he wins the press conference, Zimmer will have a chance to win next season, assuming the Vikings' quarterback position is functional.

I'll have more expansive thoughts in the column I'm writing for tomorrow's paper and Startribune.com.

You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon with Judd Zulgad to discuss the hire, and we'll continue the discussion on Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon, on 1500ESPN.

Thanks for reading.

We have the answer

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 1, 2014 - 9:28 AM

I have my short list for the Vikings, and it's very short.

HIre Darrell Bevell as your head coach. Draft Johnny Manziel to play quarterback.

Wouldn't that be perfect?

Bevell served as the buffer between Brett Favre and Brad Childress, even when the two hated each other. He can handle Manzeil's wild persona. He can also coach and develop an unconventional quarterback, as we've seen with Russell Wilson.

I also like Charlie Strong and Jack Del Rio as candidates, but I'm not sure anything would be more fun or productive than a Bevell-Manziel alliance.

Rick Spielman will probably spend 300 hours on the coaching search. I could save him a lot of time.

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Thanks for reading and listening this year. I"ll be back on the radio Thursday morning at 7:15 a.m. on WJON in St. Cloud, and at noon on 1500ESPN (AM-1500 KSTP in the Twin Cities.)

My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
 

Here's how season should have gone...

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 30, 2013 - 10:29 AM

Leslie Frazier got fired today because he won five games this season. Fair enough.

If given a decent quarterback and decent cornerbacks, I say he would have won about nine games this season and won the NFC North.

Let's take it game by game:

Game 1: At Detroit

Remeber how the Lions played like idiots in the first half? If Christian Ponder doesn't play like an honorary Lion, the Vikings have a chance to win that game. Let's not call it a win with good quarterback play, let's put it in the ``Possible'' category.

Game 2: At Chicago.

The focus wound up on defensive coordinator Alan Wiliams after the Vikings' veterans felt they were out of position on the Bears' game-winning drive, but if Ponder and Cook play better, even that doesn't matter. Should have been a victory.

Game 3: Home against Cleveland

Ponder's lousy play put the Vikings into a position where Cleveland could take advantage of the Vikings' weak secondary in the final minutes. With better quarterback and cornerback play, the Vikings win this and are, under these circumstances, 2-1.

Game 4: Pittsburgh in London

With Matt Cassel starting, the Vikings win. Would be 3-1.

Game 5: Home against Carolina

The Panthers turned into one of the better teams in the NFL. The Vikings might have lost this no matter who played quarterback. Make them 3-2.

Game 6: At Giants

If Ponder hadn't struggled and then gotten hurt, the Vikings probably wouldn't have signed Josh Freeman. If they had been 3-2 instead of 1-4, they certainly wouldn't have started him in this game. With decent quarterback play, the Vikings would have whipped a bad Giants team and moved to 4-2.

Game 7 :Home against Green Bay.

Because of Aaron Rodgers' success against the Vikings defense his whole career, let's call this a Packers victory regardless and move the Vikings to 4-3.

Game 8: At Dallas

The Vikings' defense collapsed down the stretch against a highly beatable team. With better QB and CBS, Vikes win to move to 5-3.

Game 9: Home vs. Washington

Vikings won. Under my fantasy scenario, they'd be 6-3.

Game 10: At Seattle

A loss under any circumstances. 6-4.

Game 11: at Green Bay

They tied. With a couple of more plays from the quarterback and cornerback position, they win easily to move to 7-4.

Game 12: Home vs .Chicago

A win puts them at 8-4.

Game 13: At Baltimore

A close loss that would have been a victory with a couple of more plays from QB and CB. 9-4.

Game 14: Home vs. Philadelphia

A win makes them 10-4.

Game 15: At Cincinnati

Few win at Paul Brown Stadium. Make the Vikings 10-5.

Game 16: Home vs. Detroit.

Win makes the Vikings 11-5.

Now, the reality is that every NFL team loses one or two games it should win, so let's say that with slightly better quarterback and cornerback play, the Vikings finish 9-7. That would have won the division.

If Rick Spielman had given Frazier a good quarterback and competent cornerbacks, Frazier would be receiving an extension, not getting fired.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN (1500AM) at noon.

Frazier's tenure taught lessons

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 30, 2013 - 9:33 AM

It's usually difficult to invest much emotion in NFL coaches. They're mostly vagabond mercenaries who travel from city to city, knowiing they'll most likely be fired within two or three years, and they often display all the interpersonal charm of vagabond mercenaries.

Leslie Frazier was, and is, different. He brought with him a remarkable personal story and a unique personal touch. He was the rare NFL head coach who became beloved by people at all levels of his organization, who made sure he ate lunch with different employees every day, who was about more than winning and losing.

Of course, losing did him in. He won 18 games in three full seasons as the Vikings' head coach, and that number justifies the Wilfs' decision to fire him, whether I agree with it or not.

It's easy to blame the head coach when an NFL team loses, but I never believe it's that simple. With the exception of Joe Gibbs, every great coach in recent NFL history has been defined by the play of his quarterback. I believe that if Frazier had been given a franchise quarterback, he would still be employed. If he was capable of winning 10 games with an erratic Christian Ponder, what could he accomplish with a real NFL quarterback?

Rick Spielman has a good batting average while running the Vikings' draft, but his choice of Ponder cost Frazier his job.

So while the Wilfs and Spielman begin their search for a new coach, what will matter most is the combination of coach and quarterback upon which they settle.

Frazier has been blamed for the choice of Bill Musgrave as offensive coordinator. I've been given indications that wasn't his decision alone. Alan Williams wasn't his first choice as defensive coordinator, either.

If you want to blame Frazier for something, blame him for not playing a bigger role in defensive play-calling, and for not forcing Musgrave to use Cordarrelle Patterson more early in the season.

I was lucky enough to spend time with Frazier in his hometown of Columbus, Ms. I saw the remains of the shack in which he was raised, and met with people who are still close to him.

He's a remarkable human, and if he had been given a good quarterback, he'd stil be employed.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN (that's 1500AM) at noon to talk about Frazier. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

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