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

Big weekend for Mn sports

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 17, 2012 - 9:12 AM
It was quite a weekend for Minnesota sports fans, a weekend made possible by perhaps the two most popular athletes in the Twin Cities these days.
One captivated because of accomplishment, the other because of promise. Both exceeded expectations while coming off of major knee surgery.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 212 yards, moving him within reasonable striking distance of Eric Dickerson’s rushing record of 2,105.
Ricky Rubio returned to Target Center and made the kind of deft, heady plays that have made him a national phenomenon.
That’s not an exaggeration. When you talk to national NBA writers and talk to people around the country, they find Rubio more interesting than any Wolves player since Kevin Garnett was a teenager.
Both have a chance, in the season following ACL surgery, to lead their teams to the playoffs. And both teams currently hold the sixth seed in their respective conferences.
We tend to speak of the local sports scene as if it’s one big organism, when actually it’s a collection of independent businesses. But if we want to toss all of local sports into the same category, things are looking up.
The Vikings have a chance to go to the playoffs in what I thought would be a rebuilding year.
The Wolves have a chance to go to the playoffs despite a stunning array of injuries and a recent history of awful personnel moves.
The Twins are building a future winner and could, with one more veteran pitcher, be more competitive this season.
The Wild will play again…someday.
The Gopher basketball team is the best of Tubby Smith’s tenure.
And Gopher football is in a bowl game, which, while it doesn’t impress me, is better than the alternative.
Other than Peterson’s long runs, the most interesting play of the Vikings’ victory, to me, was Everson Griffen’s interception return for a touchdown.
On the play, Chad Greenway faked a blitz from the left side of the defensive line. At the snap, he sprinted to the right flat to cover. Griffen dropped from defensive end into coverage as safety Harrison Smith dropped deep. Bradford saw Griffen but thought he could get the ball past him.
Griffen was an outstanding high school running back. He’s a remarkable athlete. Once the ball was in the air, the Rams were in trouble. Griffen intercepted and scooted down the right sideline to the end zone, shaking off a tackler.
Greenway put his hand in the air, the touchdown, when Griffen was still 20 yards from the end zone. Griffen’s teammates know how talented he is.
Tampa-2 defenses are known for predictability. That play was the latest example of Leslie Frazier and Alan Williams’ ability to mix up coverages and looks this year. And it was the latest of Griffen’s plays that justified the team’s patience with him when he was known for throwing wild parties and underachieving.
Another fascinating week awaits.
The Wolves face Miami and Oklahoma City. The Vikings travel to Houston to face the Texans, who allowed 105 yards to Colts running back Vick Ballard on Sunday.
I’ll be on 1500espn today, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 2:05 p.m., and on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 each morning to talk sports. You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

Pondering Ponder Again

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 9, 2012 - 6:07 PM

You can look at it as a positive, that the Vikings' running game and defense were strong enough on Sunday that they rarely needed to throw the ball.

Or you can look at it realistically and say that quarterback Christian Ponder continues to regress.

Sunday, he completed 11 of 17 passes, which is fine, but he threw for just 91 yards against a defense stacked up to stop Adrian Peterson. He took just one sack, but almost fumbled while foolishly trying to throw the ball away on a play that could have turned into a game-turning fumble.

He threw one awful interception into triple coverage. And he continued to look skittish in the pocket.

His post-game press conference lasted less than two minutes, because we have nothing left to ask him and he has nothing left to say.

He's a nice guy, if that sort of thing matters to you. He really is. He's accountable and friendly and honest and all that good stuff. But he's playing lousy football.

If there was a positive development in the passing game, it was that there were a few Michael Jenkins sightings on Sunday. He caught four of the five passes thrown his direction. With Kyle Rudolph catching zero passes, Jenkins at least helped move the chains a few times.

My Monday column is about what the victory meant for the team and Leslie Frazier.

I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud on Monday at 7:15, and on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. with Reusse & Mackey.

Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

 

Wild day at Lambeau

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 2, 2012 - 6:45 PM

In the first 47 years of Vikings history, Viking running back produced one 200-yard game.

Scine 2006, Adrian Peterson has produced three.

He rushed 21 times for 210 yards and a career-long 82-yard touchdown on Sunday. Because of Christian Ponder's two horrific interceptions deep in Packers territory, Peterson's efforts weren't enough, and the Packers won, 23-14.

Since Washington ``held'' him to 79 yards, Peterson has rushed for: 153, 123, 182, 171, 108 and 210 yards. On the season, he's rushed 213 times for 1,236 yards and seven touchdowns. He's averaging 5.8 yards per carry.

His previous career-high was 5.6 yards per carry in limited action as a rookie. His yards per carry starting in '07: 5.6, 4.8, 4.4, 4.6 and 4.7 before this season.

He's never been better. With four games remaining, he could challenge his career high of 1,760 yards, set in 2008.

The question of the day is whether the Vikings are wasting the best years of one of the best running backs ever to play the game.

``It's very disappointing, especially the way we ran the ball today,'' Peterson said.

What struck me, watching it live, was that the Packers entered this season once again as a Super Bowl contender, and the Vikings were thought to be rebuilding, and yet the Vikings would have won at Lambeau with a competent performance from their quarterback.

If you want to play the good news/bad news game, the good news is that the Vikings look capable of beating the Bears and Packers with decent quarterback play; the bad news is they're not getting decent quarterback play.

As I wrote in my column for tomorrow's paper, the Vikings are making a mistake, hanging the entire season on Ponder. If he plays poorly, he should be benched, just like anybody else on the team.

-I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. on Monday, and on with Reusse and Mackey on 1500ESPN tomorrow afternoon.

My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

 

Return of the LPR

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 27, 2012 - 2:14 PM
This week’s Local Power Rankings:
1.        Gophers hockey. They have been far from flawless, but they’re talented and entertaining and ranked up where they belong, near the top of the national rankings.
2.        The Wild. Still undefeated.
3.        Gopher basketball. There is no shame in losing to Duke this time of the year. Duke dominates early-season tournaments. Andre Hollins and Trevor Mbakwe both turned in big games last week, two excellent signs for a talented team.
4.        The Vikings. I know, I know, they are sliding down a slippery slope, but pause for a moment and recognize this fact: They are 6-5 and a victory on Sunday at Green Bay would keep them in playoff contention. I know, I know, but let’s not pretend this is a predicable league.
5.        The Timberwolves. Kevin Love’s return, and his inability to shoot to his standards while recovering from his hand injury, have jammed the previously flowing offense. The Wolves will figure it out, but it’s been a rough week.
6.        The Twins. They haven’t done anything to fix their pitching yet. But it’s early. We probably can’t begin to judge their winter until they trade Denard Span and sign at least one veteran starter.
7.        Gopher football. Despite all of the negative things that have happened this season, it’s too early to call for Jerry Kill’s head. It’s not too early to suggest that his continued seizures, and the fact that they seem triggered by stress, are a bigger problem than Woody Teague wants to publicly admit. Yes, the seizures will hurt recruiting. Yes, the seizures are a threat to ticket sales (I wouldn’t want to risk seeing anyone suffering in that way on the sideline.) Yes, the seizures are a threat to Kill’s career. It’s sad. It’s also true.

Souhan blog: On Torii, Wolves and another vicious hit

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 14, 2012 - 6:47 PM

Catching up on the day in sports while I wait for the three healthy Timberwolves to play Charlotte tonight at Target Center:

-I'm happy for Torii Hunter, and happy that he'll be visiting Target Field more often next season.

Hunter signed a two-year deal for $26 million with the Tigers. I think the Tigers were right to over-pay Hunter, who isn't the dynamo he once was but remains a valuable corner outfielder who will improve the Tigers' lineup and team personality.

He's still an excellent fielder with a strong arm, and he is driven to win a World Series before he retires. I don't know how to place a dollar figure on personality, but Hunter will be a positive influence in the Tigers' clubhouse.

When you're the Tigers and your goal is to win the World Series, it's reasonable to overpay for an older player who suits your needs.

-When will NFL players learn? The NFL fined Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins $30,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Jay Cutler, one of the most vicious plays of ths season.

Cutler had run toward the line of scrimmage and dumped off a short pass. As he relaxed while looking left, Dobbins smashed his helmet into Cutler's chin, leaving Cutler injured.

I don't think $30,000 is enough. So much money and prestige is at stake in the NFL that the penalty for illegally brutalizing the opposing quarterback should be far greater.

Dobbins excused his hit by saying that Cutler was running with the ball and that Cutler actually ran into him.

In other words, Dobbins, like so many NFL players, hasn't adapted to the concussion era. That's why the NFL should be as vicious with their punishments as Dobbins was with his hit.

-Speaking before the game, Rick Adelman sounded almost bemused by his team's injuries. He said he's never seen anything like this. He's down to nine healthy players and hopes to get J.J. Barea, Nikola Pekovic and Brandon Roy back soon.

He raved about Andrei Kirilenko's defense and hustle, saying he appreciates it even more after he watches game tape.

He also lamented the loss of Chase Budinger for months to a knee injury, saying, ``He was big for us.''

-Charlotte guard and former Wolf Ramon Sessions is scoring 16 points per game off the bench for Charlotte. Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is averaging 12.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

-Some readers of today's column on the Vikings' stadium deal asked why I wasn't hard on the Twins for selling personal seat licenses. Simple. The Pohlads invested lots of their own money in Target Field, more than they were required to, and they limited the PSLs to elite seats. The Wilfs are exploring PSLs for a large number of seats. I continue to be against that.

-I'll be on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. tomorrow.

 

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