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 Vikings management

Greenway on defensive woes

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: October 27, 2013 - 11:30 PM

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.''

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I'll be on 1500ESPN from 9-1 tomorrow with Judd Zulgad.

This 2nd-guessing is silly

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: October 23, 2013 - 10:45 AM

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.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN today at noon today after doing interviews in the Vikings' lockerroom. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

Something strange in London

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 27, 2013 - 4:40 AM

London

The Minnesota writers from the Twin Cities in London for the Vikings game have developed a morning routine. We eat breakfast, scan the papers, look at each other and say, ``Nope. Nothing.’’

There has been no mention of the Vikings-Steelers game at Wembley in the major morning papers. I haven’t seen a mention on the television, although at least one member of our traveling party has seen a 20-second clip of a Vikings’ practice.

In a country that reveres soccer, cricket, the America’s Cup, Olympic sports, snooker and rugby, this is not particularly surprising.

What’s surprising is that the Vikings are being covered by a large contingent of reporters who seem to be both legitimate and British.

Unless the NFL hired a squad of actors to imitate reporters and legitimize the game.

The British journalists ask intelligent questions and seem keenly interested in American football. Maybe they’re saving all of the coverage for Sunday.

If my personal experience ia any indication, the Vikings should have a big advantage over the Steelers on Sunday.

I landed at midday Monday. I think I had completely recovered from the flight, jet lag and time change by Thursday morning, about 72 hours later.

The Steelers arrived Friday morning. They’ll be playing an NFL game about 54 hours after having landed.

I agree with Jared Allen. The NFL can talk all it wants about putting a team in London, but no NFL player will want to play for a team based here.

We’re covering Vikings practice in Watford right now. Mark Craig, Chip Scoggins, photojournalist Carlos Gonzalez and myself will post columns, news stories, videos, photos and blog posts all day at Startribune.com.

We had a tough assignment last night: Shooting a video of Mark Craig taste-testing beer in local pubs. The funny thing is, Mark’s a Bud Light guy. He recoils at the sight of fruit in beer, or any beer that may hold more color than a glass of ice water. So the beer-testing didn’t last long. He found a European version of Bud Light and settled in for the night.

Souhan blog: Adrian Peterson on London

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 24, 2013 - 9:51 AM

Adrian Peterson looked tired. At least he looked better than London's version of the Vikings' mascot.

That version was a small cutout figure outside the soccer fields surrounding Wembley Stadium, where the Vikings made their first London appearance on Tuesday.

The mascot was small and purplish, with what looked like goat horns. It looked like what the creators of Pokemon would have envisioned a Viking to be.

Peterson just looked worn out. He played catch with London schoolchildren and ran them through the drills. Here's what he had to say as the Vikings prepare for their game on Sunday at Wembley against the Steelers:

``I haven't had the opportunity to talk to anybody who's played over here, but we have a pretty good game plan to adjust to the time change and be ready to play on Sunday,'' Peterson said. ``It's just another game on the schedule, but it's definitely time for us to get a W. This is not a vacation for us. It's time for us to focus and win a game.

``It can be challening, but it's challenging for the other team, too. Equal playing field.''

I was impressed by the attitude of the Vikings' players and coaches. They put on a good show with the kids.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he didn't know if defensive backs Chris Cook, A.J. Jefferson and Jamarca Sanford would practice on Wednesday. That's bad news this week. The Steelers don't run the ball well. Their only hope offensively is for Ben Roethlisgberger to make big plays with his wide receivers, particularly Antonio Brown.

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Please check in at startribune.com regularly for updates, stories, columns, blog posts and videos from London, where Chip Scoggins, Mark Craig, photojournalist Carlos Gonzalez and myself will be covering the team all week.

I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon with Judd and Dubay each weekday, per usual.

 

Think positively(?)

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 15, 2013 - 6:35 PM

My Monday column deals with the confusion and raw emotion surrounding the Vikings' loss at Soldier Field, so in this post I'll address a positive:

The Browns come to town next week.

And another positive:

The Vikings get to play the in-decline Steelers in London after that.

And another positive:

The Vikings then get a bye week in which to prepare for an 0-2 Carolina team.

The sky isn't falling. It's just raining a little.

I know the favorite statistic of the national media is that since 1990 only 12 percent of teams starting 0-2 have made the playoffs.

But most of the teams that start 0-2 had little hope before the season began.We're talking about Jaguars and Browns and the like.

The Vikings did win 10 games last year. They stil have the MVP. Their defense started showing signs of life on Sunday, creating four turnovers. And their quarterback played his best half of the season in the second half on Sunday.

More important is who the Vikings play. They didn't figure to be better than 1-1 at this juncture, because they hardly ever win at Chicago. So they're one game behind schedule with the Browns, Steelers and Panthers coming up. If they could put together a three-game winning streak, they'd be in contention.

And while their schedule after that seems daunting, Washington isn't nearly as difficult a matchup as it was considered to be before the season began.

Starting 0-2 leaves the Vikings with little margin for error, but it's not over until it's over, or unless you lose to the Browns.

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I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. to talk about the Vikings game and other stuff. I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon with Judd&Dubay.

Also, I haven't received any feedback on my Jerry Kill column. If you'd like to let me know what you think, please send all emails to SHartman@startribune.com.

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