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 NFL post-season

Why the focus on PFF from Zimmer, Norv?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: August 26, 2014 - 1:57 PM

Been at Winter Park the last two days, and head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner have both taken shots at Pro Football Focus' preseason individual grades.

Their message: Someone watching film who doesn't know what the players' assignments were on every play can't know how well they performed.

My takes on this:

-These guys have every right to tell us when we are, or PFF is, wrong. We also have the the right to be dubious about NFL coaches offering accurate assessments of their own players, because they so rarely do.

-Our job in the media is to use stats, whether old-school versions or advanced metrics, to illuminate subjects. But it's also our job to add the context that can make a statistic worthwhile. You have to use a combination of data, sourcing and first-person observation to complete the picture.

This is why good beat writers are so valuable. They're capable of filling in the blanks when a player has an apparently poor performance. Maybe the guy next to him missed an assignment. Maybe he's playing with a bad foot. And, yes, maybe he just played lousy.

I think Pro Football Focus does a masterful job of evaluating film, but I wouldn't take their grades as gospel, just as I wouldn't take anything an NFL coach says in public as gospel.

When I was covering the Vikings in 1999, I watched the tape of a game and downgraded the offensive line. I showed up at the facility the next day ,and Mike Tice, then the offensive line coach, called me in and showed me where I was wrong. Since then, I've been very cautious about grading out offensive line play. It really is a mystery to just about everyone who isn't in the team's offensive meeting rooms.

Over time, you get a good sense of how well a player performs - it didn't require much studying to judge Randall McDaniel as one of the best football players who ever lived - but picking apart one play or one game is risky.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN at an unusual time tomorrow - 11:15 a.m.

We'll run Sunday Sports Talk from the fair, Sunday 10-noon.

What does Rudolph drill mean?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 28, 2014 - 8:21 AM

MANKATO, Minn. -- Got a solution to the Vikings' problem with birds hitting the new stadium and dying.

Let's think about this. Birds flying into building. Legendary coach who loves shooting birds. That's it!

Put Bud Grant out in front of the stadium. The man is known to be a little miserly. All you have to do is give him $50 bucks, a tank of gas, and free shotgun shells.

Birds fly toward stadium. Bud lets loose. Dinner for everyone.

What could go wrong?

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Why would the Vikings sign tight end Kyle Rudolph to a $36.5 million contract?

Because they have big plans.

After spending three days with the team in Mankato, what struck me is that this team, after a couple decades of turmoil, has a chance to be somewhat stable.

Denny Green won a lot of games, but the organization was never calm when he was around.

Mike Tice was turmoil personified. Brad Childress was constantly battling with quarterbacks or bosses. Leslie Frazier was a calm and wonderful human, but he wasn't hired by the general manager who runs the team, so he was always in limbo.

Now you have a head coach hired by the general manager he works for who cares about nothing other than winning games. You have a coaching staff that Vikings employees say is already making a difference. And one of those coaches, offensive coordinator Norv Turner, is capable of building one of the best offenses in the NFL out of the parts he's assembling.

The worst contracts in sports are those that reward what a player has already done. This one projects what the Vikings expect Rudolph to do.

Rudolph has been a very good player. He has not been a star. In Turner's offense, he could become one.

Jay Novacek played five seasons in the NFL before playing in Turner's offense in Dallas. His best season pre-Norv: 38 catches, 569 yards, four touchdowns.

His first season with Norv and a budding offense: 59-657-4. His best season with Norv: 68-630-6.

Rudolph is bigger and stronger than Novacek, and about as fast. Turner spoke this weekend about teaching Rudolph to run more fluid routes, which should enable him to get deep more often, and to catch the ball in stride and run with it more often.

Assuming decent quarterback play, Rudolph could have a breakout season this year, or next.

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Wrote about receiver Erik Lora for today's editions. Other interesting or emerging players to watch: Cornerback Jabari Price, safety Robert Blanton, guard David Yankey.

Key player to watch? Maybe Sharrif Floyd. He's lighter this year. I don't know if that's a sign that he's hungry and in better shape, or a desperate move for a player who didn't make an impact as a rookie.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN-AM today and every weekday at 12:15 with Mackey&Judd. I'm on WJON at 7:05 a.m. with Jay Caldwell in St. Cloud every morning. My Sunday show, Sunday Sports Talk, airs 10-noon on 1500ESPN. Sincere thanks for reading and listening.

Manning pranked Decker

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 31, 2014 - 7:01 AM

Last April, Peyton Manning took three of his favorite receivers to Duke to work out with his personal quarterback guru, Duke coach David Cutcliffe.

That meant that Manning, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker spent some quality time together.

One night at dinner, the four received what they thought were their checks. Welker and Thomas actually received notes that said something like, ``The joke's on Decker.'' Decker received a bill for about $3,800.

``The table got real quiet,'' Thomas said. ``It took a while for Peyton to let Eric know it was a joke. Eric didn't know what to do.''

``Oh, I"ll get him back,'' Decker said. ``I haven't yet. I"ll wait for the right time.''

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It's a beautiful morning in New York. I'm at the Lincoln Center today for the NFL's major press conferences. Both coaches will speak, as will commissioner Roger Goodell. I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 and on 1500ESPN at noon, and will do Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on 1500ESPN, from New York.

Hear good things 'bout Zimmer, but...

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 30, 2014 - 12:50 PM

Speaking with writers who have covered him and various NFL people this week in New York, I’ve heard great things about new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.

The consensus: Zimmer is a tough, genuine guy, demanding but likeable, and forthright with the public and press. And that he’s also an excellent coach.

As the Vikings found with Leslie Frazier, having a likeable, respected head coach is a great organizational asset.

So why are the Vikings screwing up Zimmer’s first few weeks as head coach?

Zimmer has already hired all, or nearly all, of his assistant coaches, but the Vikings haven’t announced the moves. By the time the Vikings holds a press conference to introduce the staff, the news will be old, the Vikings will look silly, and the introductions will seem stilted.

 By delaying the announcements, the Vikings look hopelessly slow and obtuse.

Zimmer’s success and failure will depend on wins and losses, but it doesn’t hurt to make a good first impression, and the Vikings are making no impression at all right now.

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I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. tomorrow, and on 1500ESPN in the Twin Cities at noon. We'll run Sunday Sports Talk on 1500ESPN from 10-noon Sunday.                                                                                                                                                                                  

Sitting on a boat near NY...

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 30, 2014 - 6:50 AM

As I sit on a boat docked off Jersey City, waiting for the Broncos to speak this morning, I'm contemplating the Seahawks' divergent approaches to the demands of Super Bowl week.

Richard Sherman, the master marketer, has capitalized on the profile he raised with his post-game rant at the NFC title game by being accomodating, funny, glib. His teammate Marshawn Lynch has reluctantly answered a few questions each day before departing, risking a large fine from the NFL.

In my younger days, I believed that athletes should be forced to cooperate with interviewers. I still believe it's part of their job. But there is no effective way to make someone forthcoming, or interesting, or engaging. There are a lot of athletes I've covered I wish never conducted interviews, because the interviews are a waste of time if the interviewee has nothing to say.

Yesterday, Lynch had a teammate field questions. The teammate would then forward the question to Lynch, who was sitting next to him. Lynch would offer a one-word answer, then the teammate would offer an interpretation, attempting at humor, and sometimes succeeding in being funny.

if that's the best you're going to get from Lynch, that's the best you're going to get from Lynch.

Some people aren't cut out for mass media. They're naturally private, or quiet, or introverted. Lynch being uncooperative is actually much more interesting than Lynch using the more common approach of recycling cliches until everyone leaves him alone.

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I'll be on WJON IN St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. and on 1500ESPN at noon. Mark Craig and I will be writing stories, columns, notes and blog posts from the Super Bowl all week. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

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