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 NFC

Good morning from Chicago

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: May 1, 2015 - 9:32 AM

Chicago -

So, the day I write a column about how entertaining the NFL draft and even Rick Spielman are, we have one of the most boring first rounds in memory.

The Vikings' pick was boring, too. Logical, but boring.

Since Spielman hired Mike Zimmer and Zimmer hired Norv Turner, it's remarkable how linked their player evaluation and player development has been.

Zimmer saw a great player in the quite-raw Anthony Barr, and he was right on. Turner ignored Teddy Bridtgewater's horrendous pro day, saw a fine quarterback with a fixable flaw, and he was right on.

Trae Waynes is another player with outstanding physical skills who Zimmer thinks will fit his system and approach. Zimmer has built enough credibility that it's difficult to question him.

I'm sure Spielman wanted to trade down and pick up extra picks. I'm also sure that every other team picking from 10-20 would have traded down, meaning Spielman had no viable trade partners. So he took a player with whom he was comfortable, and with whom Zimmer wanted to work.

Not exciting, but it fits the Vikings' plan.

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Wasn't there, but I was told that the NFL draft in Chicago was a little awkward. Nothing happening in the arena between picks. A lot of quiet, interrupted by booing of Roger Goodell.

Even though it's a TV event, the NFL should find a way to make it more of a party for those who show up in person. Every team does it these days. Why can't the league?

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I picked the Wild to beat the Blues in seven, and it turns out I was a pessimist.

I'm picking the Wild to beat Chicago in six, mainly because I think if the Wild is going to win it has to follow a certain blueprint: Win one of the first two, win both at home, survive a Game 5 loss and win GAme 6.

The Blackhawks are still a superior team of skaters, but Devan Dubnyk gives the Wild a tremendous advantage in goal over the Hawks' duo.

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An interesting Twins' development: It seems that every time manager Paul Molitor rests a slumping player, that player returns with a better swing and approach. Danny Santana, Kennys Vargas, Brian Dozier...Credit Tom Brunansky and Molitor, two very different hitters who seem to have the players' attention.

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Today at SouhanUnfiltered.com, Strib hockey writer Michael Russo will be doing a live podcast from Chicago this afternoon. We'll tweet out the time later after we attend the Wild's morning skate. Other recent podcasts: Strib basketball writer Jerry Zgoda on the Wolves and North Stars, Strib football writer Master Tesfasion with detailed analysis of the draft, and more Russo. Thanks for listening.

Also, I'll be on 105 The Ticket with Bob Sansevere at 3:30 this and every weekday afternoon.

@Souhanstrib

Prose & Kahns

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: March 16, 2015 - 2:24 PM

JImmy Johnson says he sees a lot of himself in Chip Kelly.

As someone who covered Jimmy in Dallas, and has admired Kelly's work at Oregon and with the Eagles, I agree. They're both cocky-yet-likeable mavericks.

Here's the difference:

Most in the NFL wrongly saw Jimmy as a rube, a guy who won in college mainly because he cheated, and because his rah-rah act worked on 20-year-olds.

NFL people are not underestimating Kelly.

Jimmy went 1-15 his first year, laying in the weeds. That's why Mike Lynn thought he could pull a fast one on him with the Herschel Walker deal.

Kelly has had two 10-win seasons. The NFL will not overlook him.

As for Kelly's wild offseason, I can't believe the ridicule Kelly is receiving.

Jeremy Maclin is an above-average recekver made to look like a star by Kelly's system. Kelly didnt' ditch Maclin; he just refused to overpay him.

Anyone who watched Nick Foles play full games instead of just on highlights knows that he was another beneficiary of the system. He was not an accurate passer. Sam Bradford should be better than Foles, if Bradford can stay healthy. That's a risk, but so is counting on Foles to get better. He regressed last year.

As for LeSean McCoy, he is more spectacular than reliable. Again, Kelly didn't so much ditch McCoy as seek better return on his financial investment. By trading McCoy, he got back a very good linebacker and cleared space to bring in DeMarco Murray, who is a better every-down back than McCoy, and better equipped to punish defenses that try to go small to deal with the Eagles' spread offense.

Kelly is doing what shrewd managers do - looking past name recognition to true value.

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Radio on demand: My podcast will be at Kieran's Irish Pub (across from Target Center) at 5 p.m. tonight with former Gopher star and NBA analyst Quincy Lewis. Stop by, or listen live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com.

Wednesday, MIchael Russo and I will be at Liffey's Irish Pub by the XCel Energy Center at 4:30. We will be giving away a gift at that one.

@Souhanstrib

All-Star ideas, plus a baseball tweak

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 26, 2015 - 8:50 AM

The NFL held its Pro Bowl and the NHL held its All-Star game on Sunday.

Part of my job is to consume as much of newsworthy, noteworthy sports on television as I can. I didn't watch a minute of either.

Judging from today's reports, I didn't miss anything.

Here's how I would ``fix'' the All-Star events, or at least make them more watchable:

NHL: Hockey without defense is a bad idea. Goals in and of themselves are rarely pretty. They're exciting because they occured against a bunch of defensive players trying to stop the puck, or crush the shooter. Hockey requires intensity to be entertaining. So instead of paying each player a nice fee for making the All-Star game, throw all of that money into a pot, add a few million to make it enticing, and give all of the money to the participating players on the winning team.

Wouldn't you love to see the best players in the game playing hard for that last goal?

Basketball: Again, make it a winner-takes-all game, and tweak the rules. Install a four-point line to reward extra-long shots. And make dunks worth four points. Nobody wants to see mid-range jump shots in an All-Sar game, Reward the spectacular.

Baseball: This remains the best of the All-Star games, because it is the only one in which the defense is performing to the best of its abilities. One tweak: Allow players to reenter the game. The flaw of the baseball All-Star game is that the subs are in the game for the deciding innings, and it's possible for both teams to run out of players. If the bases are loaded with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, with the home team trailing by one, would you rather see the manager forced to use the player scheduled to bat...or would you like to see him call Miguel Cabrera off the bench, even though Cabrera left the game in the third inning?

NFL: Football without fully-engaged defenses might be even less entertaining than hockey without defense. My longstanding suggestion: Scrap the Pro Bowl and make the NFC and AFC battle in an old Superstars-style competition.

For the younger generation, Superstars would take star athletes and have them compete in events like sprinting, tug of war and the obstacle course. With the winners taking home loot

This format created one of the great moments in non-tradiational sports history. Here's a recap of it by ESPN and former St. Paul Pioneer Press writer Jim Caple:

``The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings met in Super Bowl IX in New Orleans in January 1975, a game that included 16 future Hall of Famers (counting coaches Bud Grant and Chuck Noll), Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain defense, Minnesota's Purple People Eaters and legendary quarterbacks Fran Tarkenton and Terry Bradshaw. That game, which the Steelers won 16-6, was not the most dramatic or memorable showdown between the two teams, however. That distinction goes to an epic, 16-minute tug-of-war on the sands of Waikiki held two weeks later as part of ABC's "Superteams" competition. After it was all over and the two teams lay moaning and exhausted in the sand, Dick Button -- yes, that Dick Button, the figure skating guy -- told a Sports Illustrated writer, "Nothing -- nothing, not even my own Olympic victories -- has ever moved me like that."

JEFF SIEMON, former Vikings linebacker: "It was the worst physical strain I've ever been under. It was the most intense, brutal abuse I've ever gone through -- and maybe by far."

DAVE OSBORN, former Vikings running back: "The tug-of-war was the toughest, most physical thing I've ever done, bar none. As far as being tired, I have never been more fatigued. I was always in great shape as a player. Practice was always a breeze. But when you have got to do something for a length of time and don't dare let up, it drains you. It was 16 minutes, but it seemed like 16 hours."

BEV OSBORN, Dave's wife: "You just wanted them to win the Super Bowl, but this was wondering if everyone was going to still be alive when it was over."

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I love that incoming baseball commissioner Rob Manfred had the guts to suggest that baseball's defensive shift might be outlawed.

I liked the shift when it was a novelty that rewarded progressive thinking. Now it's a common stratagem that takes away hits. I no longer like it. Make fielders stay in a rough semblance of order. Let's see good hitting rewarded.

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Latest podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com: 105.1 The Ticket's Bob Sansevere and I telling stories about the best characters in Vikings history; Strib hockey writer Michael Russo on the Wild; Twins GM Terry Ryan on his health, past and future; USA Today football writer Tom Pelissero on the Patriots, Seahawks, and the reaction he's received from scientists about the Deflatriots.

Next podcast: Today, 5 p.m. at The Local with Twins president Dave St. Peter.

My podcast network, The Alive&Social Network, now has a house containing a studio, and we're going to start doing live music shows as well as talking about music and sports. Follow @Aliveandsocial on Twitter to keep up to date.

Also, I'll be appearing on 105.1 The Ticket with Bob Sansevere every afternoon at 3:30.

Thanks.

@Souhanstrib

NFL picks

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 16, 2015 - 1:02 PM

Between the NFL playoffs and the college football final four, I've picked winners in all but two games.

I missed on the Colts beating the Broncos, and I picked Alabama over Ohio State.

I'm not picking against the line, because that's fundamentally crazy. You're going to pick a team to cover a point spread that means nothing to that team? In other words, the team might blow it by taking a meaningless safety or pulling its starters late in the game? Not for me.

My picks for the title game weekend are admittedly boring. I'm taking New England and Seattle.

I would consider taking Green Bay if Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy were 100 percent healthy, but they're not. I don't like an immobile quarterback, even the great Rodgers, at Seattle.

I think the Patriots could win by even more than the Seahawks. The Colts won last week because Peyton Manning couldn't get the ball down the field. That won't be a problem with Tom Brady. I think Brady will have a big game and then lose another Super Bowl. I think the Seahawks will be the rare team to repeat.

Think about that: Seattle will win it one year in part because they had Percy Harvin on the field, and may win another in part because they got rid of him.

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Tonight's live podcast: Myself and Strib hockey writer Michael Russo from O'Gara's Bar and Grill on Snelling, just off 94;

Wednesday, 5 p.m. at Kieran's Irish Pub downtown (right across from Target Center, ignore the construction), I'll have great local rocker G.B. Leighton on stage. He'll play a few songs and we'll talk about sports and music. Next Friday, 5 p.m. at O'Gara's, locally-based USA Today football writer Tom Pelissero will join me to set up Super Bowl week and talk Vikings.

You can listen to any podcasts live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com.

Thanks.

@Souhanstrib

Teddy's turnaround

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 13, 2015 - 5:09 PM

Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was named to the NFL's all-rookie team by the Pro Football Writers Association.

He may not have earned that honor if not for the final five games of the season, when his lowest completion percentage was 68.0.

There are two complementary reasons Bridgewater surged:

1. He got better. He adapted to the speed of NFL pass rushes, he corrected his mechanics, he built strength during the season, and he better learned how to read NFL defenses.

2. Charles Johnson started playing more. When Bridgewater's most athletic receiver was Cordarelle Patterson, he was doomed to mediocrity. Patterson wasn't a reliable route runner, and young quarterbacks have enough worries without having to coach a receiver during the game.

When Johnson became a big part of the weekly game plan, Bridgewater suddenly had an athletic No. 1 receiver who could threaten defenses deep and run after the catch, allowing Greg Jennings to play his normal role, that of a veteran possesion receiver.

When Patterson was Bridgewater's most athletic receiver, his game-by-game passer ratings ranged from 41.3 to 98.9. When Johnson was his primary target, Bridgewater's game-by-game passer ratings ranged from 76.2 to 120.7.

While the defensive side of the ball could use a few upgrades, I think the Vikings' primary targets in the draft should be offensive line and receiver. Give Bridgewater time and an open receiver, and he'll do well.

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Next podcast: 5 p.m. Wednesday at The Local with former Vikings receiver and current North High AD Leo Lewis. Also, 5 p.m. Friday at O'Garas, it'll be me and Strib hockey writer Michael Russo.

Thanks.

@Souhanstrib.

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