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 Chester Taylor

Series of Random Thoughts as I head to Target Center

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: August 30, 2011 - 5:54 PM
Covering the Lynx game tonight, my column on the team will be in tomorrow’s paper.
Someone remind me how you write about a winning team again?
If any of the Lynx players come down with bilateral leg weakness as I'm sitting courtside, then we'll know that I'm the carrier...
Spanning the globe, or at least the part of the globe threatened by hurricanes, earthquakes, recessions and stick food:
-Chester Taylor’s departure was overrated, and the potential of him returning was overblown. Backup running backs, even good ones, are easy to find. While I think the Vikings reached when they used a second-round pick on Toby Gerhart (because he’s just a backup running back right now), he’s better at this point in his career than Taylor is.
If there’s anything more overrated than a backup running back, it’s an older backup running back who averaged 2.4 yards per rush last year at the age of 31. Gehart and Lorenzo Booker can handle anything Adrian Peterson can’t, and Gerhart will have to prove his worth as a starter if anything happens to Peterson.
Who, by the way, could have an immense season. Think about it: A healthy, eager Peterson in a contract year in a power-running offense. If he stays healthy, I could see him buying Jim Kleinsasser, Jeff Dugan and Visanthe Shiancoe Rolexes at the end of the year, along with the offensive linemen.
-I spoke with Justin Morneau after Sunday’s game, during which he ran around like a maniac on the bases and in the field. Now he’s sitting out in Chicago because of more concussion-related symptoms.
That’s about the worst thing I’ve heard all year. Here’s a guy who was trying to set an example for his teammates by hustling, and he once again raises the specter of an injury that just won’t go away.
As for Joe Mauer, I’m developing a pet theory after talking to lots of people in the Twins’ organization: I think he’s depressed about something. Seriously. If you’ve ever been depressed, or read about depression, or known anyone who has battled depression, you know that in depression’s throes, a person is much more prone to have the common cold turn into the flu, and is much more prone to having a minor injury become a major setback.
I don’t say this lightly. If Mauer is struggling with something in his personal life, that would explain a lot.
-I read with interest reports of the University of Kentucky sports information department banning a student reporter from interviews with basketball players because the reporter contacted two walk-on players without going through SID channels.
I went through that while covering the University of Missouri basketball team, coached by the cantankerous Norm Stewart. Norm heard that I had tracked down a player on campus to follow a lead, and he stopped speaking with me. (Of course, I’ve caused a few people over the years to stop speaking with me, including a lot of people I now really like. Including Jerry Burns, like Jerry Burns.)
My situation was slightly different than the current Kentucky dust-up. Stewart didn’t ban me from interviews with players or restrict my access, he just stopped giving me bonus time with him. He was well within his rights to do so, and I didn’t complain because I had no basis for complaint.
The Kentucky situation is a little more complex than many national media reporters are making it seem. While I agree that no SID or school should ever restrict a news organization’s first-amendment rights, all Kentucky did was restrict the reporter from a round of interviews that were not available to all media members. While I would put up a fight if I were the Kentucky student newspaper, sometimes we (reporters and columnists) simply have to accept that if we aggressively pursue information, we’re going to forfeit opportunities to receive help from PR people.
I’ve had a lot of people turn down interview requests from me because I criticized them or they didn’t want to discuss the topic I was interested in, and that’s their right.
-I’ve been saying this on the radio all week: The Vikings’ offense really reminds me of Joe Gibbs’ Super Bowl winning offenses when he was in Washington.
What’s good about that is that Gibbs didn’t need a great quarterback, running back or deep threat to win Super Bowls. He won Super Bowls with three different non-Hall of Fame quarterbacks and three different featured running backs.
Eras have changed, and quarterbacks may be more important now than they’ve ever been, but Gibbs’ philosophies should hold some promise for today.
He likes power running, multiple tight ends (or H-backs), and softening the defense up for the long pass. Those tenets should be pretty timeless.
-The consensus among local media outlets seems to be that the Wolves’ coaching job is Rick Adelman’s for the taking. I can’t say that’s not true, I can only say that I think owner Glen Taylor wants to take a good hard look at hiring Sam Mitchell, and Taylor is free to trump David Kahn’s judgement on this hire if he wants to.
While the long, torturous process has turned off a lot of people, I actually think the Wolves are in good shape here. Adelman is an excellent coach, although he may be reaching a time of his life – he’s 65 and reportedly his wife isn’t keen on him coaching this year – where basketball might not be a consuming passion. Mitchell was an NBA coach of the year not long ago and is the lone candidate who can bring back memories of the Wolves’ competent years and might be the best candidate for toughening up a soft roster. And Don Nelson, while likely to flame out quickly and head back to Hawaii, would at least make the Wolves more fun to watch.
Personally, I’m pulling for Mitchell because I like him and think he would look at this as the opportunity of a lifetime, instead of just another paycheck.
-Michael Vick’s contract, even when simply looking at guaranteed money, seems like a huge risk to me. There is no guarantee his speed and skills will survive the beatings he’s taking as a running quarterback, and no one knows how he’ll react to once again having a lot of money in his pocket. I wouldn’t have signed him to this deal, especially since the Eagles’ coach, Andy Reid, is so good at developing quarterbacks.
It's obvious the Eagles are going for it this year, but I still think they're maybe the third-best team in the NFC, behind the Packers and perhaps the Saints. (I see the Saints reounding this year.)

-Upcoming: I’ll be flying to LA for the weekend to cover the Gophers at USC and the Twins at Angels. My twitter name is @Souhanstrib.

Back in Detroit. Woo. Hoo.

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 2, 2011 - 9:54 AM

Two trips to Detroit in a month.

I forget, is that the second or third ring of Hell?

A reader emailed me last night, asking why we don't hammer Bernard Berrian more for being a slacker and one of the worst free-agent signings in franchise history.

He's right. All I can say is that Berrian is blessed to be shielded by low expectations.

Brad Childress made a lot of great personnel decisions, and Berrian helped the Vikings go to the playoffs in 2008 and added an occasional threat last year. This year, he's been worthless. In a normal year, where Brett Favre, Randy Moss, sexting, a stadium implosion, migraines, and a systemic failure (love that phrase) hadn't dominated headlines, we might very well have spent the season castigating Berrian.

He's lucky to be only No. 32 on the list of what's wrong with this year's Vikings.

Remember the good ol' days, when we thought losing Chester Taylor was going to be the worst thing that ever happened to this team?

Right now Berrian is testing his sore (fill in the blank) on the field. I'm sure he'll gut it out and play.

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The Winter Classic was great. Take a sport in which you can't see the puck, and play it in a stadium where noone can even pretend to see the puck.

Actually, I think the Winter Classic is a good idea. Anytime the NHL can break up the monotony of its regular season and give the casual viewer a reason to watch, I'm all for it. But hockey is just a weird sport to try to promote. Those who love it will love it no matter what form it takes. Those who don't love it will always be ambivalent because even superstars like Sidney Crosby play only a portion of their games and can't even control when they touch the puck.

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I feel for anyone who has gone through the health problems Don Lucia has experienced, but I can't excuse his coaching or the way his team has played.

This was supposed to be a weekend of fattening up on weak opponents. Instead, he loses to Union (is that a brand of jeans or a college) at home, then blows off a shootout so he won't lose to Ferris State (named after Buehller, I hope?).

Pathetic.

If only the Gophers athletic department had someone in charge, maybe someone named an ``athletic director'' who could take charge of the program. Someone should look into that.

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I fear the Wilfs are going to blow this. I fear they're going to take a good coaching candidate they know and like and let him explore the market, and lose him, and start another coaching search with no guarantee that they'll hire anyone as good as Leslie Frazier.

This is one of those decisions that can be screwed up only by overthinking. Hire Frazier tonight, announce it tomorrow, give Rick Spielman the GM title, and move forward.

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Wrote about Brett Favre's last appearance on a Viking sideline in the Sunday paper. Yes, I'm asking you to go buy a stinking paper, which costs less than a foo-foo Starbucks drink, or a gallon of gas.

Here's my newspaper rant: They're the last bargain in America. For a small price you get tons of coupons, funnies, crosswords, Soduku, op-eds, news, and a packed sports section. And if you subscribe to the paper, the premium stuff is all free.

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I can't decide whether signing Carl Pavano would be a good thing or a bad thing. He'd flesh out the rotation and provide innings, but is he really worth $10 million a year?

I think the Twins are playing it right. I'd give him two years, but not three.

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I still think the biggest issue facing the Twins is whether Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan can be what they once were.

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I'll check in after the game. Because what else would I do in Detroit?

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Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 p.m. each weekday. My twitter name is Souhanstrib.

 

 

Ensconsed at Bradley Center

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: March 18, 2010 - 10:47 AM

We're set up at Bradley Center, waiting for the Gophers' workout and press conferences. The Gophs are going first in what is a long day of basketball ``practices,'' although they're pretty informal workouts that are open to the public.

Quick hits, catching up on our local teams after returning home from Fort Myers:

TWINS

The Twins should have traded Glen Perkins before his bad body language could damage his trade value during spring training. Now they're going to have to ship him to Triple A and hope he can impress someone there.

The young pitchers have been the hit of spring training. Kevin Slowey and Sott Baker look sharp, Frankie Liriano is getting back his sharp-breaking slider and Nick Blackburn looked good before he started having knee problems.

My picks to have big years: Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Jason Kubel, Delmon Young.

WILD

I admire the way Chuck Fletcher operates, but it's hard to watch the NHL after watching Olympic hockey. It feels like such a slog, and the fact that a team can sleep-walk through a game and still get a point ruins the drama of what should be a late-season race for the last playoff spots.

WOLVES

Wolves writer Jerry Zgoda has done a nice job pointing out that there are lots of ways to build a winning team - and the Timberwolves haven't employed any of them.

While David Kahn's legacy will be determined by how he handles this offseason - and what he does with Ricky Rubio - this has been a lost season largely because Kurt Rambis hasn't made much of an impact on his players.

Corey Brewer is the exception. Rambis talked about improving Brewer's balance, and how that would improve his shooting, and he was right. What other players have gotten better, though? Kevin Love looks like half the player he was a year ago. Al Jefferson is the same, if that, and Jonny Flynn still doesn't look like he knows how to play point guard.

If you're going to lose, lose with a purpose. The Wolves aren't doing that - they're just embarrassing themselves with a lack of effort and focus.

At this point, Rambis has as much to prove as his players.

VIKINGS

The loss of Chester Taylor, and the failed attempt to replace him, is a wildly-overblown story getting this much attention because the Vikings aren't making any other news.

Look around the league. Can you imagine downgrading what you think of any other franchise based on a loss of a backup running back?

Taylor was a fine player and a pro. He was also a backup running back. The Vikings will be fine without him. It's time for Adrian Peterson to play a bigger role - and stop fumbling - anyway.

GOPHER BASKETBALL

I haven't been impressed with this team all year, but a strong showing in Milwaukee will reestablish Tubby Smith's mojo. Gotta say, I'm glad his team made that run at the Big Ten tourney, because I love getting to cover these games in person. Just walked through the Bradley Center, and I can't wait for tomorrow.

GOPHER HOCKEY

Let me get this straight - a talented young hockey player underachieves, participates in a disappointing season, then leaves? Really?

Don Lucia has stayed too long.

UPCOMING...

-Friday I'll be on am-1500 at 7:45 a.m. and at 6:05 p.m. Sunday, we have the first Ron Gardenhire Show on am-1500 at 9:30 am, followed by Sunday Sports Talk, from 10-noon.

-You can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib.

 

Vikings postgame

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 29, 2009 - 12:24 AM

Ok, anyone who owns a TV can offer a thumbnail analysis of the Vikings.

The safeties don't make plays. The linebackers aren't nearly as dynamic without E.J. Henderson in the middle. Antoine Winfield is not himself. The pass rush has been thwarted by quick passes. The offense is lacking the big plays that send defenses reeling.

Or...we could simplify our analysis.

The 2009 Vikings are 7-0 at home and 4-4 on the road.

They are 9-1 on turf, and 2-3 on grass.

They have lost their last three games on grass, and their last two in cold weather.

On the first two pass plays of the Carolina game, Brett Favre slipped. Many times on Monday night, Adrian Peterson or Percy Harvin either slipped, or eased into a cut for fear of losing their balance.

The Vikings are a speed team, a turf team. Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Peterson, Chester Taylor _ they all look like different players when they can sprint and cut on turf. Favre looks more sure of himself in the Metrodome, and his cold-weather record on the road is undeniable even after his dramatic second-half comeback on Monday night.

The problem is, the Vikings now are in a position where they could find themselves playing a road game in the second round of the playoffs, or in the championship game if they make it that far. And they are not a good road team.

They also aren't strong against the pass of late, and every team likely to make the NFC playoffs can throw the ball at will.

All of which means that the Vikings are in big trouble. I wouldn't be surprised to see them beat the Giants at the Metrodome _ I don't think this team lacks gumption _ but I think that game will be meaningless in preparing the Vikings to win a road playoff game.

And after falling behind the Eagles in the playoff seeding on Monday night, they probably will have to win a road playoff game or two to advance to the Super Bowl.

-As I wrote in my column for the Tuesday paper, the negatives that led to and resulted from the loss to the Bears were trumped by watching Favre lead a dramatic second-half comeback. Isn't that why you watch sports, to see moments like that _ fourth-and-goal, 22 seconds left, Favre lofting the ball to Sidney Rice?

-Nice piece by our Myron Medcalf on Ralph Sampson III and basketball-playing sons in the Tuesday paper. Also a bunch of interesting quotes in Jerry Zgoda's Wolves feature on Al Jefferson's new view of the Triangle Offense.

Jefferson can be moody, but when he's in the mood to talk, he's a great quote, and a lot of Timberwolves people have told me he treats team employees better than 99 percent of the players who have come through town - which is a much better way to judge an athlete than by the way he treats the media or his superiors.

-I'll be on am-1500 at 6:40 with Reusse, then on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:14. I'm on with Matt Thomas on am-1500 at 7 p.m. Tuesday _ it'll be my last appearance with Matt before he leaves for Houston.

You can follow me on Twitter at SouhanStrib.

 

Greetings from The Blimp

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 6, 2009 - 5:33 PM

I'm all set up at University of Phoenix Stadium, and I have to admit, I expected more.

The place feels like a big convention center. Which is pretty much what it was designed to be. The place looked like an over-inflated blimp from the outside and lacks any shred of character inside. The ceiling is opaque, giving it a Metrodome-like look, only much more high-tech and expensive.

Blah.

The game should be interesting, though. The Vikings are the better team, but two storylines could determine the outcome of the game, and perhaps of the Vikings' season:

1. Will Adrian Peterson hold onto the ball and reestablish himself as the Vikings' best player, putting aside any possibility of losing some playing time to Chester Taylor?

2. Can the Vikings, who have to be eyeing a likely NFC title game at New Orleans, cover good receivers?

Tyrell Johnson and Madieu Williams appear to be playing better of late, but they haven't exactly been tested. As we've seen with the Patriots, a bad secondary can make an entire team look helpless against a good passing attack.

-Congratulations to the Gopher hockey team for managing another split with state power Minnesota State-Mankato.

-Kevin Love is now among the Top 10 MVPs in the NBA.

-Had Brad Childress on the radio show this morning, and he was very lighthearded and blunt. I teased him about the speeding tickets, and he said something like, ``Not to make light of driving 100 miles an hour, but at least we're not talking about the Love Boat.''

Hard to argue with that one.

-Also had on St. Thomas coach Glenn Caruso, who has done an amazing job with that program. He mentioned learning from hardships early in his life, and when I asked him to elaborate, he said that he was diagnosed with leukemia when he was young, and a doctor told his father not to expect Glenn to live to see his fifth birthday.

Glenn survived that and other medical challenges to become one of the most engaging and positive coaches I've been around.

My thanks to Childress and Caruso for great interviews.

-You can follow me on Twitter at SouhanStrib. I can't always tweet from Vikings games at the Metrodome because of a terrible wireless system, but I should be in good shape tonight. If I stop tweeting, that probably means I'm on deadline.

Thanks, and enjoy the game.

 

      

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