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.
Find him on Twitter
So the Vikings' season is over. What now?
Wrote my column for the Monday paper on the Vikings' predicament, so I'll leave that subject (and a stunning statistic regarding the Vikings' record) for that edition.
What was troubling on Sunday - and what made this a difficult game to write about, as the fourth successive loss - was that the Vikings keep having the same problems every week.
The defense has forced three turnovers in four games. That's not going to cut it.
Donovan McNabb actually made a couple of nice deep throws, targeting Devin Aromashodu and Percy Harvin down the sideline. Maybe the Vikings coaches have found the right combination of routes/receivers to encourage McNabb to take the occasional shot.
What's strangest about the Vikings' 0-4 start is that they are not horrific statistically. McNabb has thrown just two interceptions. Adrian Peterson is having a representative season. Percy Harvin has been dynamic running and catching. Toby Gerhart has done well in limited duty. The Vikings have five receivers with seven or more catches.
But the Vikings neither make enough big plays, or make enough positive plays at important times.
The Chiefs are not a good team. They were 0-3 and missing safety Eric Berry and running back Jamaal Charles. They lacked a competent running game, and quarterback Matt Cassel looks very average when you watch him in person. And yet this collection beat a desperate Vikings team featuring a handful of stars.
I keep coming back to two positions: Quarterback and offensive coordinator. Both were actually a little improved on Sunday, but they still weren't good enough to sustain drives, and it's amazing how many unforced errors this team makes. There were two plays when the running back and quarterback didn't seem to be on the same page.
Also, I think head coach Leslie Frazier should have managed the clock better at the end of the game. If he had called a timeout before the Chiefs punted, that would have saved 45 seconds, and then if the Vikings had gone into hurry-up mode, they could have saved a couple of minutes and had a chance at another drive.
I don't think those decisions cost the Vikings the game, but they cost the Vikings an opportunity.
-The Detroit Lions are 4-0. They remind me of the Tampa Bay Rays - a team that finally found good management and started taking advantage of all of its high draft picks.
The Lions will have to develop more of a running game and become better in pass coverage to become a threat to win a playoff game, but right now they're the best story in the NFL.
-Once I get home from KC, I"ll be covering the Lynx in Game 2, 3 and (if necessary) 4 of the WNBA Finals, including coverage next weekend from Atlanta.
-I highly recommend taking in games at the KC sports complex. Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadium are still state of the art, and the tailgating before a Chiefs game is excellent - friendly people and great barbecue.
-Typical Wolves luck that if they were heading into a season right now, they would be the best story in town. Instead, Rick Adelman and Derrick Williams are locked out indefinitely.
-I'll be on 1500espn with Reusse and Mackey at 2 p.m. every day this week (I believe), and I"ll join my Sunday radio partner, Tom Pelissero, a couple of times this week on his new show, which is 6-8 p.m. weekdays.
My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
-Isn't releasing the schedule for an NFL season threatened by a lockout like planning how you're going to spend your lottery winnings?
-Must be something wrong with the Vikes' schedule. Shows only one game in Detroit, no games on Tuesday and none at TCF Bank Stadium.
-Rick Adelman might not be the best possible coach for the Timberwolves, but he'd be an upgrade. Then again, so would Randy Wittman.
David Kahn will have a dozen good candidates to replace Kurt Rambis, including Adelman, Dwane Casey and Sam Mitchell. I'm sure he'll go for name recognition, though, and hire someone like....Kurt Rambis. Or Pee Wee Herman.
-Bunting in the first inning: I'm never in favor, even when it's Matt Tolbert in the 2-hole putting down the bunt. Play for the big inning early in the game. Please.
-Remove frustration from the analysis, and the Twins' slow start isn't that surprising. They had injuries in spring training, they rarely play well against the AL East, they aren't a particularly strong road team, and their home games were against a very good pitching staff (Oakland) and a team you'd rather play later in the season than early, when they still believe in themselves (KC).
-Today's NBA playoff prediction (I'll change this every day for a few months): Oklahoma City over Miami in the finals. (Yesterday, it was LA over Miami in the finals, but the Lakers looked lost in Game 1.)
-60 Minutes did a great piece on Blazers and Seahawks owner Paul Allen, who ripped into Bill Gates in his new book. Allen owns the guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock, a massive yacht with its own submarine, and still has dozens of billions in the bank.
And guess what Allen said in the interview: He's still hopeful of meeting someone with whom he can start a family. All those billions, and yet at that moment I felt sorry for him.
-First, my 1500espn radio partner Tom Pelissero said he believes the Vikings are targeting Jake Locker. Now Peter King is agreeing with his mock draft. I don't believe a lot of what I hear about the draft this time of year, but I am starting to believe that Jake Locker will be wearing purple this fall.
Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 Wednesday. My twitter name is @Souhanstrib.
I'm still shocked that Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell called this a ``nation of wussies'' because the Eagles cancelled a football game during a snowstorm.
Really? Pardon me for sounder younger than I am, but this is just the latest example of someone espousing ``The Good Ol' Days When Men Were Men and Women Couldn't Vote.''
How old does this guy sound? I'm thinking Jurrasic Park, high-school-roommates-with-Sid old.
Cancelling a football game because fans who paid exhorbitant prices for their tickets won't crash or die on the highways doesn't make this a nation of softies. It's another sign of progress.
If you're Rendell, maybe you'd like to go back to the days when seat belts weren't mandatory (and more people died in car wrecks); smoking was ``cool'' (and more people died of lung cancer, even those who didn't smoke); concussions were ``cobwebs'' (hmmmm, maybe we've found Rendell's problem); and drinking and driving was just the best way to get to the bar on Saturday night (or are we softies for not being able to navigate with a cut-glass tumbler filled wiht a Manhattan in our hands?)
Rendell probably thinks ``Mad Men'' is the way life should be. Smoke and drink at work, sexually harass women, leave your trash in Central Park and call it ``The American Dream.''
To reiterate: Cancelling the game to protect the safety of their fans on Sunday night was a smart call by the Eagles.
The travesty is in letting TV dictate that the game be played on Tuesday night, instead of Monday night. That's when greed overwhelmed logic.
Rendell said "Vince Lombardi would be spinning in his grave.''
Monday, he said in an interview on 97.5 radio in Philadelphia: "My biggest beef is that this is part of what's happened in this country. I think we've become wussies. ... We've become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down."
Yes, if more people would have gotten into car accidents on the way to a football game, that would help us catch the Chinese in calculus. Sounds logical to me.
In my day, we drank castor oil and walked uphill both ways to school and watched two channels of black-and-white TV and died young AND WE LIKED IT!
Heartening to see the Wolves win two in a row. Seriously.
This is a much more talented group than last year's team. Michael Beasley seems to be learning how to score with the game on the line. Luke Ridnour and Jonny Flynn have improved their play at point guard.
This team isn't going to contend anytime soon, but if you add Ricky Rubio and another high draft pick to this collection, basketball at Target Center could suddenly become interesting, and what more can you ask after a half-decade of putridness?
Whatever you think of David Kahn, he's upgraded the talent in the starting lineup.
Even though I see the Vikings finishing the season with a four-game losing streak, I'd still give the head coaching job to Leslie Frazier. It's not his fault this is a bad team.
Upcoming: If my flight gets home on time, I"ll be on 1500ESPN from 2-6 Wednesday through Friday, before leaving for Detroit and the Vikings' finale on Saturday.
I"ll do Sunday Sports Talk (10-noon) from Detroit this week.
Yes, I agree with the Eagles' decision to postpone their game on Sunday night.
I believe I'm alone in expressing this sentiment. I know the rest of the Twin Cities media stuck in Philadelphia with me for four days - four days! - disagrees.
I get their arguments. This is football. Football gets played in bad weather. Football fans know how to deal with bad weather. This sets a terrible precedent. The Eagles may have postponed the game because they'll have a better chance to win on a clear field on Tuesday than in slop on Sunday night, since the Eagles have more speed and better skill-position players.
While I agree with all of the above, I also walked outside on Sunday night. Star Tribune photographers Jerry Holt and Carlos Gonzalez and I walked through the blizzard to what might have been the only restaurant open in Philadelphia on Sunday night.
The wind was howling. The streets were slick. Snowplows were out, but weren't winning the battle. And I watched all day as local TV stations talked about closing bridges and terrible traffic and injury accidents.
Which leads to my ultimate point: While the postponement is an inconvenience for everyone involved, the Eagles did right by their fans.
It was their fans who would have had trouble making it to the game. I saw one estimate that the attendance might have been as low as 20,000 for a team that always sells out, that features one of the most passionate fan bases in all of sports. It is their fans who would have sat in 40-mile-an-hour winds, getting snow and ice blown in their faces. It is their fans who would have gotten stuck on the sides of roads or in traffic jams, trying to get home at midnight on Sunday.
NFL fans spend lots of money on their teams, and they are guaranteed just eight regular-season home games a year. Whether their motives were pure or diabolical, the Eagles wound up doing right by their fans, and while their decision has messed up my personal and professional schedules, I can't argue with the decision.
The NFL really has a fascinating product, doesn't it?
I do NFL picks with Brad Lane and Tom Linnemann on Sunday Sports Talk, and I might have had my worst week of the season this week. I believe the only pick I got right (we usually pick the five or six best games) was the Packers over the Giants.
Which is why I love writing about the NFL. It is unpredictable because of random variation, and luck, and weather, and circumstance, but also because every time you think you have a team figured out, something changes.
Just when we thought Peyton Manning was having his worst season as a veteran, he produces two great, clutch performances to re-elevate his team.
Just when you thought the Jets may have turned it on, they get swamped by Jay Cutler. Who would have thought before this season started that we'd see Cutler picking apart a secondary that includes Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie?
Who saw this coming from the Bears, at all? I keep calling them frauds, and they keep proving me wrong, and now they've beaten the Eagles, Jets and Packers, and they're suddenly scoring like the Patriots West.
In a season in which no NFL team looks supreme, maybe the Bears can make a run.
I'm thoroughly impressed with the Packers, from Mike McCarthy to Aaron Rodgers to Clay Matthews to Charles Woodson to Dom Capers.
Donald Driver has always been one of my favorite NFL players. How many receivers his size have his toughness and longevity?
What's best about this Packers team is its ability to survive injuries without whining or making excuses - or letting those injuries keep it out of contention.
We're entering the phase of the year where you'll start hearing the Vikings whine about injuries and their stadium and travel woes, but they still had enough talent on the roster to contend this year. They just didn't have what it takes.
Despite my support of the Eagles' decision, I've gotta say, this is a lousy week to be stuck in Philly. I was going to do some fill-in work on 1500ESPN, and my daughter flew in from DC on Christmas Eve to spend a week at home, and I'm spending two days that I would have been home stuck in a downtown Philly hotel, wishing I hadn't already read everything Lee Child and just about everything Stephen Hunter has written.
(I used to be a heavy literature guy; now I like well-written, well-executed escapism.)
This would be a good time to be a movie buff, but I just don't find many movies worth a two-hour investment.
So...I'll be jumping on 1500ESPN sporadically the next two days. I have my usual weekday call-in at 2:40 p.m. with Joe and Pat, and I'll be on with Joe Anderson tonight, I believe at 7:10 p.m.
I did it! Made it through a day without mentioning Brett Favre.
-Brett Favre wouldn't talk about the NFL's investigation into him after the game.
-Think the Vikings made the right decision in letting Matt Birk go? Every time I watch the Ravens, Birk is falling into the end zone on a Ray Rice touchdown run. Every time I watch the Vikings, I see a center screwing up.
-Those criticizing Brad Childress for his game plan are confusing planning with execution. Favre had receivers open in the first half, and either he missed them or the Vikings committed a penalty.
If you want to criticize Childress for anything in this game, it would be his indecisiveness when facing a two-point deficit after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
It's obvious you go for two there. Childress agreed, but only after sending the kicking team onto the field and then calling a timeout to send his offense back out there.
Also, Randy Moss wasn't on the field for the two-point conversion. Then again, Tahi was wide open in the end zone and Favre didn't throw to him. Childress wound up making the right decision, it's just that he cost himself a timeout and then had trouble explaining the decision after the game.
-The Vikings are 1-3, but I think they're in big trouble only if Favre's elbow or the NFL's investigation into him go badly. If Favre is healthy, he and Moss will develop more of a rapport each week, and the Vikings' talent will win out eventually. I think they beat the Cowboys on Sunday, and their game at Green Bay looks winnable considering the Packers' injuries.
Players often say ``It's a long season,'' and often that's a poor excuse. In this case, I think that's the right way to look at this year. If the Vikings can get to week 8 still in contention, their soft second-half schedule and the mediocrity of the division should give them every chance to go to the playoffs, and if they make it to the playoffs healthy, they'll be very dangerous. Of course, that's all predicated on Favre staying healthy and un-suspended.
-Moss spoke after the game, and, for what it's worth, he's saying all the right things and saying them with a smile on his face. He even talked about mentoring Percy Harvin.
-During Favre's post-game presser, he kept waving his left hand around, and running his left hand through his hair. His wedding ring was shown prominently on national TV. I'm sure that was a coincidence.
-The Vikings' safeties continue to be the weakness of the team (along with the center position and third receiver.) They never make plays.
-Childress took the blame for the team looking sluggish at the start while coming off a bye. I, like all good Minnesotans, blame Ron Gardenhire.
-The Vikings need to get Greg Camarillo involved. If they're not going to use Bernard Berrian - and it certainly looks like they're not going to use Bernard Berrian - then they need a third receiver who can make a play. Camarillo, a catch-and-run guy with good hands, should be able to handle that.
-I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 tomorrow (and every weekday afternoon.) Yesterday, we had Childress on Sunday Sports Talk and he admitted the timing of the deadspin report - just before the Vikings play in New York - was ``curious.''
-Moss has lost a step, but he picked up a trick, probably from former teammate Cris Carter. He pushed off slightly on Antonio Cromartie on his touchdown catch, but did so in a way that would be difficult to call.
-While we've all assumed this four-game stretch would be brutal, the Vikings had a chance to beat the Jets on the road, the Cowboys are 1-3, the Packers are beat up and the Patriots...won't have Randy Moss.
-Moss also thanked Tom Brady for sending him an encouraging text before the game.
|Professional baseball (141)||Vikings (164)|
|Gopher coaches (45)||Gopher quarterbacks (10)|
|Gopher recruiting (2)||Gopher road games (1)|
|Gophers disciplinary action (1)||Gophers recruiting (1)|
|Gophers spring football (4)||TCF Bank Stadium (21)|
|The Big 10 (23)||NCAA: football (14)|
|Gophers coaches (55)||Gophers players (35)|
|Tubby Smith (36)||Williams Arena (14)|
|Gophers post season (5)||Gophers roster moves (3)|
|Golf (21)||Soccer (4)|
|Twins news (38)||WNBA (7)|
|Wild news (31)||AFC (9)|
|Bears (18)||Ex-Vikings (9)|
|Football on TV (51)||Lions (13)|
|NFC (60)||NFL draft (21)|
|NFL post-season (23)||Packers (45)|
|Super Bowl (37)||Vikings coaches (71)|
|Vikings defense (26)||Vikings fans (19)|
|Vikings injury report (10)||Vikings management (65)|
|Vikings off the field (23)||Vikings offense (59)|
|Vikings quarterbacks (35)||Vikings road games (12)|
|Vikings rookies (3)||Vikings roster moves (3)|
|Vikings special teams (2)||Vikings training camp (5)|
|Off the field (5)||On the road (19)|
|Quarterbacks (25)||Rookies (3)|
|Roster moves (1)||The draft (42)|
|Ron Gardenhire (115)||Target Field (132)|
|Twins fans (138)||Twins management (183)|
|Twins offense (103)||Twins transactions (85)|
|NBA playoffs (40)||Wolves coaches (72)|
|Wolves draft news (28)||Wolves guards (37)|
|Wolves injury report (7)||Wolves management (76)|
|Wolves players (59)||Wolves trade talk (14)|
|Wolves training camp (11)||All-Stars and honors (78)|
|Fighting (2)||Wild coaching (25)|
|Wild management (35)||Wild off-season news (3)|
|Wild player moves (4)||Adrian Peterson (51)|
|Anthony Herrera (2)||Antoine Winfield (16)|
|Ben Leber (1)||Bernard Berrian (7)|
|Brad Childress (27)||Brett Favre (52)|
|Brian Robison (3)||Bryant McKinnie (3)|
|Cedric Griffin (5)||Chad Greenway (9)|
|Chester Taylor (5)||Chris Kluwe (2)|
|Darrell Bevell (5)||E.J. Henderson (4)|
|Jared Allen (23)||John Sullivan (6)|
|Kevin Williams (2)||Leslie Frazier (37)|
|Madieu Williams (2)||Pat Williams (2)|
|Percy Harvin (25)||Phil Loadholt (2)|
|Ray Edwards (1)||Ryan Longwell (9)|
|Sage Rosenfels (1)||Sidney Rice (10)|
|Steve Hutchinson (7)||Tarvaris Jackson (9)|
|Tyrell Johnson (2)||Visanthe Shiancoe (5)|
|Brad Childress (27)||Darrell Bevell (5)|
|Leslie Frazier (37)||NHL news (9)|
|2010 Winter Games (13)||Olympic curling (1)|
|Olympic hockey (8)||Olympic skiing (4)|
|Olympic village (11)|