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.
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.
Eli Manning has made five career starts against the Vikings.
In those games, he's thrown three touchdown passes and 11 interceptions, and the Giants have gone 1-4.
Against the rest of the NFL, Manning's career numbers are: 217 touchdowns, 148 interceptions, and a 77-59 record.
Perhaps Manning's worst game as a pro came in Jersey against the Vikings. The Vikings would finish 8-8. The Giants would rally to beat the previously undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.
On Nov. 25, 2007, the game was a mismatch. The Vikings intercepted Manning four times, returning three interceptions for touchdowns, and won, 41-17, with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.
Dwight Smith intercepted Manning twice, returning one for a touchdown. Chad Greenway and Darren Sharper each intercepted one and scored on returns.
Sharper had a knack for reading Manning, and baiting him into throwing into coverage. And those Vikings defenses were particularly tough on teams that wanted to play traditionally, by running to set up the pass. Pat Williams and Kevin Williams didn't allow many rushing yards, and the front four put lots of pressure on quarterbacks in obvious passing situations.
Manning lost his first four career starts against the Vikings before finally beating them, 21-13, on Dec. 13, 2010. Even in victory, the Vikings held him to one touchdown pass and intercepted him twice.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 9:30 Tuesday with Judd&Dubay.
Last time the Vikings played a Monday night game at Met Life Stadium in Jersey, the Vikings were in the middle of another lost season, but the personalities and circumstances were dramatically different.
Brad Childress was the coach, and fighting for power within the organization. Tonight, the Vikings' coach will be Leslie Frazier, whose job may be in as much jeopardy today as Childress' was in 2010, but who plays his role with more diplomacy.
Brett Favre was the quarterback, and fighting off tabloid stories about his texting habits. Tonight, the quarterback will be Josh Freeman, who, unlike Favre in 2010, is hoping to play another 10 years in the NFL.
Randy Moss was the supposed midseason saviour. Tonight, Freeman plays that role, trying to prove that Greg Schiano really is who we think he is.
The Jets beat the Vikings on that rainy Monday night in 2010, but what I really remember was dealing with Moss and Favre after the game.
Moss was difficult, parrying interview requests until Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press challenged him to talk, and Moss did. That night, you could not have imagined that a television network would ever hire Moss and pay him for his thoughts.
Favre was masterful. Not on the field, but in the cramped, overcrowded postgame interview room. If Anthony Weiner could handle negative press and difficult questions about his personal life the way Favre did, Weiner could be president, instead of out of politics.
The Minnesota media had already asked Favre plenty of questions about his texting habits and relationship with Jenn Sterger. This was the New York media's chance to go after him. Favre calmly turned every question towards football without getting angry or offering any new information.
I think Favre would have made the perfect politician. He looks and acts like a leader. He is a master at manipulating the national media. He has fame and money on his side. And he is the best press-conference manager I've ever interviewed.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 9:30 instead of noon today so I can catch my flght to New York. I'll also be on KFGO in Fargo with Mike McFeely, probably around 3:30 Central time. I'll also be on 1500ESPN at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday before heading back to Minnesota.
My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib. Thanks for reading.
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