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 road games

Ensconsed at The Linc

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 28, 2010 - 5:08 PM

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

I agree with Vikings' postponement

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 27, 2010 - 11:53 AM

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I did it! Made it through a day without mentioning Brett Favre.

 

Random thoughts on MNF

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: October 12, 2010 - 1:05 AM

-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.

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Vikes lose opener

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 10, 2010 - 12:49 AM

That was one lousy football game.

The Saints and the Vikings both missed on plays they would have hit last January. Maybe teams need more preseason games, not fewer.

I thought Brett Favre was the difference in the game. He played lousy, and the Vikings lost while scoring nine points. If he had played well, the Vikings would have won.

The Saints weren't very good. Drew Brees missed on a couple of big plays, his receivers dropped a couple of passes, and Sean Payton didn't start running the ball until the second half. The Saints are a much better team when defenses have to worry about the run.

Although Favre and his receivers stunk it up, this isn't doomsday. I figured the Vikings would lose this game, anyway. If Favre gets on the same page as his receivers, the Vikings should win their next two games and head to New York at 2-1. To me, the key part of the schedule is the Cowboys-Packers-Patriots stretch.

-Best moment of the night was Drew Brees, right before the opening kickoff, running to the 20-yard-line, waving to the crowd, and pumping his fist. The crowd responded, in unison, with the ``Who Dat'' chant. Amazing.

-The Twins will win the division, and I believe Ron Gardenhire is the manager of the year. He thought he had three All-Stars, and he wound up with only one - Joe Mauer. Joe Nathan blew out his elbow, meaning Gardenhire had to patch a bullpen together all year.

Delmon Young blossomed under Gardenhire. Gardenhire stuck with Jesse Crain when most of us would have shipped him out, and Crain became one of the best relievers in the league over the last four months. Gardenhire lost Justin Morneau, and yet his team played its best baseball without the former MVP. Gardenhire successfully broke in Danny Valencia during a pennant race. I think this is his best work, and he had a tougher job than Ron Washington, who got to dominate a bad division.

-Adrian Peterson ran with great intensity Thursday. The Vikings should have kept giving him the ball in the second half. He was wearing down the Saints. I wish we really knew how many times Favre checked from a run to a pass.

-Judd, Chip and I shot a video for startribune.com. I'll be on 1500ESPN at 2:40 Friday.

 

Tuesday at Target Field

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: April 20, 2010 - 8:33 PM

Checking in from Target Field. Writing for the Wednesday paper, then I'll turn my attention to the NFL draft.

So...

-The Wild fires Tommy Thompson. Who didn't see that coming?

Whatever you think of Mr. Thompson, you knew Chuck Fletcher would want his own people in that position, and the previous regime did not do well enough in the draft for anyone to make a case for keeping Thompson around. Nice guy, should land on his feet somewhere as a scout.

-The NFL releases its schedules, with the Vikings opening the season on Sept. 9 at New Orleans.

This is final confirmation of what we already knew: Brett Favre is coming back. The NFL would not schedule the first game of the year to showcase Tarvaris Jackson.

I was covering the Vikings in 1998 and 1999, when they lost the NFC title game to Atlanta, then faced Atlanta in Week 1 the next season. The Vikings won that game, but the NFL is an afterthought in Atlanta.

The Saints and their city will be in full party mode. I still say that NFC title game in January featured the best atmosphere I've ever experienced at a football game.

-The Vikings' schedule is fascinating, and more evidence that the NFL knows how to generate maximum interest in its sport.

The Cowboys and Cardinals highlight the home schedule, but the road games are almost all intriguing. Vikings at New Orleans to start the season? What more could a Viking fan ask for? Vikings at Jets? Who doesn't want to see Brett Favre return to New York?

At Patriots? Vikings vs. Randy Moss. At Redskins? Chilly vs. the quarterback he was once rumored to covet, Donovan McNabb. At Eagles? Chilly plays his former employer again.

Add in the natural intrigue surrounding divisional games, and it's a fascinating schedule.

But you'd expect that from the NFL, a league that once was largely ignored for six months of the year and now is the No. 1 sport in the country even during its offseason.

-I don't pretend to study prospects before the draft, so I'll make my predictions vague: I would be very surprised if the Vikings didn't take one or two defensive backs in the first two rounds. I would be very surprised if they didn't take an offensive lineman. I would be very surprised if they took Tim Tebow. I would be very surprised if they took a quarterback in the first two rounds.

I'll be writing off the draft live on Thursday night.

-Delmon Young scored from second on a wild pitch tonight, when the ball kicked away from the pitcher after Michael Cuddyer scored from third. Young scored in part because he's in better shape and in part because he's much more enthusiastic about playing the game this season. In my opinion.

-Amazing first three at-bats for Joe Mauer tonight: Strikeout with nobody out and runners on first and third; groundout with bases loaded; doubleplay grounder.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is Drew Butera's time.

-I'll be on 1500ESPN from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday. I'll sit in with Patrick Reusse from 3-4, then be with Rookie from 4-6. Kevin Seifert and Joe Christensen will be among my guests, talking NFL draft and Twins.

My twitter name is Souhanstrib.

Thursday, I'll be doing the Inside Corner debate with Ron Coomer on the FSN pregame show, which starts at 11:30, and I'll contribute to the postgame show.

 

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