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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By Jim Souhan
The Vikings fell to 1-7 on Sunday after threatening to win a game that would have threatened their position in the 2014 draft.
The secondary saved them. The secondary played admirably most of the day, holding down on of the league’s best passing offenses, but again failed in the waning minutes, for the third time costing the Vikings a victory in the late going.
Tony Romo led the Cowboys on a game-winning, nine-play, 90-yard touchdown drive, torching a depleted Vikings secondary. On a day when the Cowboys looked lackluster and vulnerable, they did just enough to win.
The Vikings did plenty to lose. Kicker Blair Walsh missed an extra point, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder fumbled in his own end zone to give the Cowboys an easy touchdown, and Ponder threw an inexplicable interception on one of the rare times the Cowboys pressured him.
The Vikings’ defensive line played an impressive game and Adrian Peterson rushed for 140 yards and an inspiring late touchdown, but by the end of the game the Vikings still looked like a team looking for a quarterback.
Against Detroit, the Vikings' defense didn't seem prepared to handle the multiple ways the Lions used Reggie Bush.
Against Chicago, the defensive players intimated they were out of position on the Bears' game-winning drive.
Against Carolina, Jared Allen left some doubt in his postgame interview as to how much confidence he invested in the defensive coaching staff.
Against Green Bay, the Vikings got shredded for 182 rushing and 285 passing yards.
``The Green Bay Packers rushed for about 200 yards on us,'' said defensive end Jared Allen. ``When does that ever happen? When do the Green Bay Packers rush for 200 yards? We've got to stop the run. That was awful. I didn't see that coming whatsoever.''
So I asked linebacker Chad Greenway on Sunday night whether the defensive players were being put in position to succeed.
Read his answer and interpret it any way you like:
``You know what?'' he said. ``The reality is, the call comes into the huddle, we’ve got to make the play. I don’t want to get into a finger-pointing situation. It's not about that.
``When you go through some things, you see there’s more to life than football. This is what we do. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be known as someone who pointed the finger and tried to put it on somebody else. I want to be known as someone who has integrity and want to put the onus on getting better and finding a way. That’s reality. We are where we are.''
I'll be on 1500ESPN from 9-1 tomorrow with Judd Zulgad.
So, which quarterback do you want the Vikings to target with their pick near the top of the 2014 draft?
That might be the only question worth asking about the 2013 Vikings.
Their blowout loss to the Packers on Sunday night leaves them at 1-6, with no quarterback worthy of even an interim tag, and desperate to fix the cornerback position.
Aaron Rodgers demonstrated how a franchise quarterback can control a game on Sunday night, whipping the Vikings with brilliant reads, quick passes, timely runs and flawless decision-making.
The Vikings start Christian Ponder for some reason, and he looked lost throughout the Vikings' 44-31 loss.
Of course, he, unlike Rodgers, didn’t have the luxury of throwing against the Vikings’ cornerbacks.
Maybe that’s the problem with the Vikings’ quarterbacks. They don’t see NFL-caliber corners until they play in games.
What was frightening about the Vikings’ performance on Sunday was that they played with evident fire, they benefited from iffy penalties that led to two scoring drives, Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown, and they were still embarrassed by a far superior quarterback and team.
Time for the Vikings to start scouting Johnny Football, Teddy Ballgame, and any other college quarterback worthy of a nickname.
I'll be guest-hosting the Judd&Dubay Show with Judd tomorrow morning, 9-1 on 1500ESPN.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has been getting beaten up from all sides this week.
If you want to criticize his hiring of coordinators, or clock management, fire away.
If you're really going to keep picking on him for the way he has handled his quarterbacks, you're so far off base you must be related to Nick Punto.
Freeman and his bosses were fully invested in giving Chrisitan Ponder every chance to be their quarterback for the next five years. He failed. He failed miserably. If anyone was going to give Ponder every benefit of the doubt, it was Frazier and GM Rick Spielman. If they gave up on him, you know he's not capable of running an NFL offense.
Frazier switched to Matt Cassel at the right time, when Ponder's rib injury created a natural opening to try out the backup, and Cassel played pretty well in beating Pittsburgh.
Then, when the Vikings had the chance to pick up a talented quarterback without sacrificing a draft pick, they signed Josh Freeman, and got him ready to play as quickly as possible.
Freeman played horribly on Monday night. He showed some poise in the pocket and generally threw toward the correct receiver. He just couldn't hit the broad side of Phil Loadholt with one of his passes. As Frazier noted, Freeman's mechanics are horrible, which led to him throwing too high or too long.
The result was terrible. That doesn't mean the decision was terrible.
In fact, the decision was purely logical. So is the decision to keep Freeman as the starting quarterback.
The Vikings know exactly what Ponder is. They know exactly what Cassel is. As poorly as he played on Monday, there is still a chance that Freeman could revive his career.
In his second year in the NFL, Freeman threw 25 touchdown passes and six interceptions. The talent is there. He has the ability to avoid turnovers under the right circumstances. He has a lot of work to do, but the Vikings are right to invest in a growth stock.
Blame Frazier for the Vikings' record, but not for his quarterback decisions.
I'll be on 1500ESPN today at noon today after doing interviews in the Vikings' lockerroom. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
This is the kind of game that gets coaches fired.
And we could say that two weeks in a row.
The Vikings were embarrassingly inept on offense, in part because of new quarterback Josh Freeman’s inaccuracy, as they fell to 1-5 with an ugly, 23-7 loss to an awful Giants team at MetLife Stadium on Monday night.
Freeman’s primary flaw, even when he played well in Tampa, was his lack of accuracy. He missed high on many passes, and overthrew a few long balls.
What was more surprising was the ability of a mediocre Giants’ defense to shut down Vikings star Adrian Peterson, who rushed for nine yards on eight carries in the first half, the fourth-worst half of his NFL career.
In their last two games, the Viking have been embarrassed at home by an average Carolina team, and embarrassed on the national stage by a terrible Giants team.
These are the kinds of months that get entire coaching staffs fired.
Before the game began, the Vikings could have taken solace in the mediocrity of their divisions, and in key injuries suffered by the Packers and Bears.
By late Monday night, the Vikings couldn’t pretend to be in contention for anything other than the first pick in the NFL draft.
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