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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Instant reaction to Vikings news conference

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Vikings, Lions, Vikings management, Adrian Peterson Updated: September 17, 2014 - 11:34 AM

Vikings owner Mark Wilf said two things that cannot be disputed on Wednesday after the team decided to suspend Adrian Peterson.

He said: ``We made a mistake’’ when deciding earlier this week that Peterson should play this Sunday.

He also said: ``It’s a fluid situation.’’

Yes, it is.

Once Anheuser-Busch, one of the NFL’s foremost sponsors, publicly upbraided the Vikings’ decision, all that beer swept away the Vikings’ previous decision.

That’s why the Vikings decided to suspend Peterson, with pay: Because of the fear of major sponsors running away from the team and the league.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf offered a prepared statement on Wednesday morning at Winter Park but did not take questions.

When Zygi Wilf left the stage, co-owner Mark Wilf, general manager Rick Spielman and vice president Kevin Warren did take questions.

The most repeated phrase of the press conference: ``We believe we got it right.’’

Yes, they got it right after public backlash and the threat of sponsor retreat made playing Peterson untenable.

I don’t blame Spielman for this or for being unable to offer any big-picture questions about Peterson on Monday. He’s a wielder of stopwatches and personnel decisions. He’s not equipped to speak on child abuse by his best player.

Warren is a legal expert. He emphasized that ``It’s very clear that the Minnesota Vikings are the ones who initiated this process.’’

The Wilfs were the people who got this wrong to begin with and who underestimated what the reaction would be to playing an admitted child abuser.

But at least Zygi and Mark eventually, belatedly, showed their faces.

Where is the NFL commissioner?

Roger Goodell is paid $44 million a year by NFL owners to be the corporate face of the NFL.

He rose through the NFL as a public relations expert.

When the NFL needed him the most, he ducked under the NFL’s cloak of invisibility.

He hasn’t merely appeared weak while mismanaging the disciplining of Ray Rice and Peterson.

He has appeared cowardly.

Warren said the Vikings ``initiated’’ the process of suspending Peterson, and that the commissioner then granted the Vikings an exemption to allow them to pay Peterson and keep his rights.

In other words, while cowering in his Manhattan offices and collecting his millions, Goodell needed the Vikings’ obviously overwhelmed braintrust to suggest a solution to the league’s latest nightmare.

Goodell should be embarrassed.

It doesn’t seem like that’s an option for him.

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You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

NFL stands for Not For Long on decisions, too

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Vikings management Updated: September 17, 2014 - 8:51 AM

If not for TMZ obtaining a video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee in the face in an elevator, Rice would be returning to the field this Sunday.

Given only a video in which Rice drags an unconscious body from the elevator, NFL commissioner levied only a two-game suspension of Rice.

If not for severe backlash from sponsors and the public after announcing that Adrian Peterson would play this week, Peterson would be returning to the field this Sunday.

Given only photos displaying numerous, large, open wounds on the body of his 4-year-old son, and Peterson's admission to police that he beat his child, the Vikings would have levied no further penalties.

The NFL lacks decency. We knew that before, and that notion has been reaffirmed the last few weeks.

The NFL and the Vikings reacted to the reaction of sponsors and politicians. Left to their own devices, they would have welcomed Rice and Peterson back this weekend.

They don't deserve praise for their belated decisions. They deserve scorn for being forced to do the right thing.

You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

Knee-jerk reaction to today's game

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Vikings coaches, Vikings defense, Vikings fans Updated: September 14, 2014 - 3:07 PM

By halftime, Vikings fans were booing. By early in the third quarter, they were chanting for the backup quarterback. This wasn't how Mike Zimmer imagined his first home game as the Vikings' head coach proceeding.

The Vikings scored on their first drive, with an impressive show of play-calling and game-planning, driving 80 yards in seven plays without Adrian Peterson (obviously) or Cordarrelle Patterson touching the ball. By early in the third period, they hadn't scored again, and Matt Cassel had thrown three interceptions, and the chants of ``Teddy!'' were raining down from the stands, as fans begged for rookie backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

The final: Patriots 30, Vikings 7, with the Patriots scoring 30 straight points. Cassel finished with four interceptions, one more than Christian Ponder ever threw in a game. The last wasn't his fault, as it bounced off the hands of Matt Asiata, but the previous three were terrible decisions and throws.

Instead of spreading the Vikings out and picking on their lesser defensive backs, the Patriots played as if they knew that only a big mistake could lose this game. They remained patient, running the ball and throwing underneath, and the Vikings made enough mistakes - with four interceptions and a blocked field goal for a touchdown - to reward that approach.

So, after two weeks, the Vikings have one impressive road victory and one unsightly home loss, as they head to New Orleans for what, on paper, looks like the toughest of the first quarter of the season

Cassel had a chance to move the Vikings well ahead of expecations. Instead, he attempted throws that would have gotten a rookie benched. The Vikings' defense played better than the score indicates. One Patriots touchdown was the result of that blocked field goal attempt, and another came on a one-yard drive after one of Cassel's interceptions.

The Vikings coaching staff never seemed interested in playing Bridgewater, and certainly wouldn't bench Cassel after one bad game. Another bad performance may open up the possibility of Bridgewater making his debut sooner than expected.

Quick hits from Vikings victory

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Football on TV, Vikings coaches, Vikings defense, Vikings fans Updated: September 7, 2014 - 6:11 PM

St. Louis -

Wrote my column on Mike Zimmer's debut. Here are a few other observations after full review of the stat sheets and highlights:

-Key stat of the game: One sack. The Vikings' offensive line didn't play all that well last year, and had rocky moments in the preseason, and was facing the strength of the Rams. The line allowed just one sack, and allowed Cassel to complete 17 of his 25 passes.

-Cassel completed 17 passes, yet hit seven different receivers. There will always be someone open in Norv Turner's offense, and Cassel is calm enough to find checkdowns.

-Peterson had 21 carries, and caught two of the three passes thrown toward him. I wouldn't be surprised if that's a median usage for him.

-I thought Turner was cautious when given poor field position but showed his creativity in the red zone. Both of Cassel's touchdown passes came after inside fakes to Adrian Peterson, freezing the middle of the defense.

-The Vikings are currently alone in first place in the NFC North, with Detroit playing on Monday night.

-This is the first Vikings game I've covered in a long, long time when I didn't come away baffled by either the usage of a key player, a play call, or a coach's explanation of the former or latter.

-Next week provides a completely different challenge. Where the Rams wanted to turn the game into a slugfest, New England will spread the Vikings out on offense, hoping to throw underneath to wideouts like Julian Edelman and find Rob Gronkowski deep down the middle. Watching Zimmer and Turner match wits with Bill Belichick will be quite entertaining.

-Personal note: Got to see The Jayhawks, the great band with Minneapolis roots, on Thursday at the Turf Club, and Saturday night at First Avenue via @Yahoolive. A great band that has never sounded better. Best wishes to Marc Perlman and Gary Louris - please keep this thing going.

------------------

I'll be on 1500ESPN-AM sometime tomorrow morning with Mackey&Judd.


 

Quick reaction from Vikings win

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Football on TV Updated: September 7, 2014 - 3:02 PM

St. Louis - In Mike Zimmer's debut as the Vikings' head coach, he delivered.

His defense overwhelmed the St. Louis Rams.

His offensive coordinator found ways to use Cordarrelle Patterson, perhaps the most-underused player of the 2013 NFL season.

He won his debut, 34-6, and while the opponent was underwhelming, the victory remains impressive.

A year after the Vikings finished 5-10-1 largely because of defensive blunders, they earned this one the way Vikings fans had to hope it would be earned - with Zimmer getting the most out of his defensive players, and with the Vikings proving it is possible to hold a lead.

There were too many penalties for any coach's taste, but while the game was ugly,  you could see signs of intelligent design in Zimmer's defense.

A guy recovering from a gunshot - Linval Joseph - had a sack.

A guy recovering from a season that threatened to make him the team's next cornerback bust - Josh Robinson - made a spectacular interception.

The pass rush was effective, with top draft pick Anthony Barr hitting Rams quarterback Austin Davis to cause an interception that Harrison Smith returned 81 yards for a touchdown.

Most of all, Zimmer's defense never looked confused, never broke coverage, never made it easy on the Rams.

It was an auspicious debut that was consistent with Zimmer's reputation around the league as a coach who can make his players better.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN-AM at noon on Monday to recap the game with Mackey&Judd.

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