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 Bears

Favre on the ``heated discussion''

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 21, 2009 - 12:03 AM

When Vikings coach Brad Childress was asked about the ``heated discussion'' between himself and quarterback Brett Favre during the third quarter, he didn't deny it took place, but he didn't elaborate much.

Favre elaborated.

My column for the Monday paper (not the early column that some of you got, the one without quotes, but the one I wrote for our later deadline) contains all of the quotes Favre offered on the subject on Sunday night. To summarize: He wasn't happy that Childress considered benching him, for whatever reason.

Again, my column on the subject delves into the subject and contains all of Favre's quotes on the topic. It's in the Monday paper.

My short take: Favre wasn't the problem Sunday night. His offensive line (particularly Bryant McKinnie) was awful. The Vikings' defense got ripped in the fourth quarter, but even when it was limiting the Panthers in the first three quarters, it wasn't making enough big plays. As a couple of defensive starters said after the game, there's nothing wrong with a defense scoring some points, too.

Steve Hutchinson and Jared Allen, in particular, sounded mildly disgusted by the team's performance, although they didn't say anything too harsh.

My short take No. 2: The Vikings have lost three of their last four games on grass, with the only victory in that stretch coming at Green Bay, in a game Favre was desperate to win, a game that the team wanted to win for Favre.

Since they moved into the Metrodome, the Vikings have struggled on grass. Even their good teams have struggled on grass. Their lone regular-season loss in 1998 came at Tampa, on grass.

I wouldn't be surprised if the last two losses, at Arizona and Carolina, are the product of an overconfident team playing on an unfamiliar surface.

Here are the two real problems with the loss:

1) Favre is incredibly strong-willed, for better and worse. If he senses a lack of trust on the part of Childress, their relationship could go south in a hurry, and with it the season. I don't think that will happen, but that possibility was raised Sunday night.

2) The Vikings no longer are assured of a first-round bye, because they are only one game ahead of the Eagles, and neither of their remaining games look like gimmes. The Bears stink, but the Vikings just lost a cold-weather game on grass to a mediocre team, so they shouldn't exactly be cocky about this one. And the Giants, for all of their problems, are talented and well-coached.

To me, the elite teams in the conference _ the Saints and Vikings _ no longer look all that much stronger than the teams they may have to face in the playoffs _ the surging Eagles, the talented Cowboys, the mercurial Cardinals, the intriguing-if-flawed Packers.

This is going to be quite interesting the rest of the way.


Upcoming: I'll be on with Reusse at 6:40 on am-1500 to recap the Vikings game. I'm on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:14. Flying home tomorrow, taking a few vacation days from the paper, although I'll continue to do the radio spots.

I have a big piece running in the Friday paper on the Star Tribune Sports Person of the Year.

You can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib.

 

What a thumping

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 7, 2009 - 12:00 AM

Let's see, the Vikings couldn't run the ball, Adrian Peterson looks startlingly mortal, the offensive ilne is beat up, the defensive line got whipped, the secondary got exposed, the middle linebacker who was playing very well is lost for the season, and Brett Favre threw two awful interceptions and a couple more passes that should have been picked off.

Ah, but it didn't snow.

There are two reasonable ways to look at this game:

1) At 10-1, with the division pretty much clinched, coming off three easy games, the Vikings just weren't ready emotionally to do what it took to beat a good team fired up for a big game at home.

2) The Vikings' flaws can be exposed when they play good teams, especially good teams with dynamic passing games and physical fronts.

The Cardinals are physical and athletic, and Kurt Warner was very sharp Sunday night. I picked the Vikings to win because I expected either Matt Leinart to start or Warner to look woozy. Instead, he went after the Vikings' weaknesses with great success.

The Vikings need to get Antoine Winfield healthy. They also need to reestablish their running game, which, when it's working, strengthens the rest of their team.

Without a good running game, Favre becomes reckless and the defense can be exposed. This defense specializes in playing with a lead, or stuffing run-first teams. The Cardinals threw the ball with ease.

I've been saying for weeks now that Adrian Peterson appears to be playing with some kind of injury or limitation. He just doesn't look dynamic or fast right now. I also said during his first two seasons that we should enjoy him while he's healthy, because his running style does not portend a long career. Defenses are just too big, fast and violent to play running back for long without the ability to make defenders miss. Peterson takes a lot of big hits for a great back.

I've praised Brad Childress a lot the last two years, but I disagree with his insistence on keeping star players in the game after the game is decided. Shortly after he saw E.J. Henderson break his leg, he left Favre and Peterson in the game for the Vikings' last drive. Nothing good can come from that, and plenty of bad can result.

Several players looked quite shaken by Henderson's injury. E.J. has turned himself into a team leader after being a big question mark early in his career, and he was having an exceptional game Sunday.

Suddenly, the stretch drive looks more interesting. The Packers can close the gap to two games by winning on Monday night, and the Vikings have Cincinnati (one of the best teams in the league), Carolina (unpredictable), Chicago (ok, the Bears stink, but it's a grass field in late December, and Favre no longer likes playing in the cold) and the Giants (who were left for dead before beating the Cowboys on Sunday, and may have a lot to play for.)

Maybe the Vikings react well to this loss, whip the Bengals, and erase all of these questions. But this felt like watching one of Denny's lesser teams, when they'd build a good record against mediocre quarterbacks then get shredded by a good one.

As Favre said after the game, good teams start peaking now. He was praising Arizona, and perhaps questioning whether his team will rise to that challenge.


Upcoming: I'm on with Reusse on am-1500 at 6:40, then WJON at 7:14. I'm taking vacation from the paper this week but working on a project that will run in the Sunday paper. (Buy the paper instead of tipping the Barista for pouring you a coffee. Seriously. That's worth a tip?)

I won't be on FSN for my weekly debate with Jim Petersen this week, but will resume next week.

You can follow me on Twitter at SouhanStrib. If you become my 1,000 Twitter follower, I promise to reward you with a free copy of the autobiography that Sid wrote himself.

 

Another SORT

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 29, 2009 - 1:17 PM

-A giddy reader emailed me during the radio show this morning to point out that Montana scored 61 points on the South Dakota State team that lost to the Gophers 16-13 two games ago.

Remember that the Jackrabbits did not allow the Gophers an offensive touchdown in that game, and the game-winning field goal came after a Jackrabbit fumble deep in their own territory.

Then again, how can Tim Brewster's recruits match up to the veteran depth of Mighty Montana?

-I recognize that Tubby Smith's 10-man rotation provides advantages. He can demand full defensive intensity, he has fresh legs with which to press and run, and he has few offensive standouts who deserve to be on the court for 35 minutes.

But playing 10 or more players has to be damaging to offensive continuity and rhythm. Despite the legend of The Microwave, Vinnie Johnson, most offensive players require time to probe and attack a defense's weaknesses. Running fresh legs into the game rarely is going to benefit a team offensively.

-My KSTP cohort Brad Lane reports that the Wolves drew a decent crowd on Friday night. My guess: The lenses of those Kurt Rambis throwback glasses have been painted to make fans think they're entering a Vikings game.

-I'm at the Vikings game today. To be blunt, I'm going to be killing off some vacation time between now and the end of the year, so I may not appear quite as often as usual in this space or in the paper. I'll use Twitter to let you know when I write a new blog or column.

-Reusse and I disagreed this morning on the proper point spread for this game. I'm picking the Vikings big _ I believe they're becoming increasingly confident and comfortable on offense, and I don't think the Bears can score enough to make this a game.

The main concern for the Vikings, to me, is that they haven't been good at breaking on the ball or intercepting passes. If Cutler is allowed to get away with a few mistakes, will he have a big game?

Probably not.

-I had Jake Mauer on the show this morning _ Jake the Brother, not the Grandpa or Dad _ and he said something interesting when I asked whether Joe would want to put up with the tumult of playing in Boston or New York.

He said that Joe is so low-stress that his surroundings just wouldn't affect him, and that winning a championship is more important to him than the size of the contract.

I still believe Joe will be signed within two months, but the Mauer camp has been consistent in saying that believing he'll be able to win a title here is the biggest factor in his decision.

-Upcoming: You can follow me at SouhanStrib on Twitter. I'll be on the air Monday morning with Reusse at 6:40 a.m. on KSTP, and on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:14 a.m.

-Enjoy the Bears. If that's possible. I'll be sitting near Sid, so I just hope not to be struck by food shrapnel.

 

Why not?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 9, 2009 - 3:49 PM

So I took my daughters to Annie's Parlor on Sunday night, and as we left to walk to our car, we passed a street musician playing the guitar and singing.

Then we realized what he was singing. This wasn't your typical street guitarist who thinks that Bob Dylan simply hasn't gotten enough recognition and must be mimicked until we all fully appreciate his brilliance and nasal-osity. No. This was a street musician who wanted to impart deep thoughts for the betterment of mankind, and so he sang, and I am not making this up, ``Feline dementia/Feline dementia/I think my cat has/Feline dementia/First she wants inside/Then she wants outside/I think my cat has/Feline dementia.''

Not sure what the title of the song was, but I'm guessing ``Like a Rolling Stone.''

That stupid story was not apropos of nothing. It was apropos of this:

That street musician might be a little less crazy than ESPN basketball analyst John Hollinger, who wrote, in part:

``And it's especially worth noting that if the Cavs are back in the 45-50 win range this season, King James might be a much more portable commodity this coming summer. If he's looking at a Cleveland lineup with one majestically talented player and several spare parts, one would think the comparison to such arrangements in New York or New Jersey wouldn't be dramatically different.

But those aren't close to being the most palatable changes of uniform available. For instance, it bears mentioning that joining the Chicago squad LeBron's team lost to Thursday night would be dramatically different. With a young star point guard, quality big men and lots of secondary help, the Bulls -- who could get as much as $20 million under the cap if John Salmons opts out of his contract, conveniently opening a spot in the lineup for LeBron at the same time -- would offer a more clear opportunity for long-term success.

Let me throw out an even crazier proposition -- Minnesota. The Wolves will have the cap space to make a run at LeBron, depending on a few variables -- or at the very least can get there fairly easily if they know there's a chance for a player of this caliber. (Declining an option on Ryan Gomes, for instance, is done much more easily if it allows you to replace him with the best player in the league.)

Minnesota is generally thought of as one of the NBA's least-desirable relocation options, but let's consider it from a winning perspective. Who would you rather play with for the next five years: Al Jefferson or Anderson Varejao? Kevin Love or Ilgauskas? Ricky Rubio or Mo Williams? Jonny Flynn or West? Ramon Sessions or Daniel Gibson? Next year's fourth pick or next year's 24th? It's obvious, isn't it?

And as Howard Beck points out in today's New York Times, the advantages of one city over another are minimal from a financial perspective -- it's as easy to put Cleveland, Minnesota or Sacramento on national TV as it is the Knicks. Really, the main considerations are who LeBron wants to play basketball with and whether he can handle living in that city day-to-day.

All the attention will be on New York, of course, because it's New York and because LeBron is playing there Friday night. But really, the possibility of his joining the Knicks is just the tip of the iceberg. If the Cavs' true level is just as a 45-50 win team, then a lot of other situations look at least as appetizing, if not better. Thus, for Cleveland, the truly terrifying part about this season's slow start is not what it may do for its playoff seeding in the spring, but that it may fuel LeBron's search for greener pastures this summer.''

Imagine that: Target Center being described as a greener pasture.

What I really took from Hollinger's comparison of Cleveland and Minnesota's rosters was this: I was right on last week when I wrote that James' supporting cast is getting worse, not better, and that the Cavs are in trouble.

I also think the Wolves are proceeding brilliantly this season. If you tank games all season, nobody will be able to accuse you of tanking games at the end of the season while you position yourselves to land the first pick in the draft.

 





 

Why not?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 9, 2009 - 3:49 PM

So I took my daughters to Annie's Parlor on Sunday night, and as we left to walk to our car, we passed a street musician playing the guitar and singing.

Then we realized what he was singing. This wasn't your typical street guitarist who thinks that Bob Dylan simply hasn't gotten enough recognition and must be mimicked until we all fully appreciate his brilliance and nasal-osity. No. This was a street musician who wanted to impart deep thoughts for the betterment of mankind, and so he sang, and I am not making this up, ``Feline dementia/Feline dementia/I think my cat has/Feline dementia/First she wants inside/Then she wants outside/I think my cat has/Feline dementia.''

Not sure what the title of the song was, but I'm guessing ``Like a Rolling Stone.''

That stupid story was not apropos of nothing. It was apropos of this:

That street musician might be a little less crazy than ESPN basketball analyst John Hollinger, who wrote, in part:

``And it's especially worth noting that if the Cavs are back in the 45-50 win range this season, King James might be a much more portable commodity this coming summer. If he's looking at a Cleveland lineup with one majestically talented player and several spare parts, one would think the comparison to such arrangements in New York or New Jersey wouldn't be dramatically different.

But those aren't close to being the most palatable changes of uniform available. For instance, it bears mentioning that joining the Chicago squad LeBron's team lost to Thursday night would be dramatically different. With a young star point guard, quality big men and lots of secondary help, the Bulls -- who could get as much as $20 million under the cap if John Salmons opts out of his contract, conveniently opening a spot in the lineup for LeBron at the same time -- would offer a more clear opportunity for long-term success.

Let me throw out an even crazier proposition -- Minnesota. The Wolves will have the cap space to make a run at LeBron, depending on a few variables -- or at the very least can get there fairly easily if they know there's a chance for a player of this caliber. (Declining an option on Ryan Gomes, for instance, is done much more easily if it allows you to replace him with the best player in the league.)

Minnesota is generally thought of as one of the NBA's least-desirable relocation options, but let's consider it from a winning perspective. Who would you rather play with for the next five years: Al Jefferson or Anderson Varejao? Kevin Love or Ilgauskas? Ricky Rubio or Mo Williams? Jonny Flynn or West? Ramon Sessions or Daniel Gibson? Next year's fourth pick or next year's 24th? It's obvious, isn't it?

And as Howard Beck points out in today's New York Times, the advantages of one city over another are minimal from a financial perspective -- it's as easy to put Cleveland, Minnesota or Sacramento on national TV as it is the Knicks. Really, the main considerations are who LeBron wants to play basketball with and whether he can handle living in that city day-to-day.

All the attention will be on New York, of course, because it's New York and because LeBron is playing there Friday night. But really, the possibility of his joining the Knicks is just the tip of the iceberg. If the Cavs' true level is just as a 45-50 win team, then a lot of other situations look at least as appetizing, if not better. Thus, for Cleveland, the truly terrifying part about this season's slow start is not what it may do for its playoff seeding in the spring, but that it may fuel LeBron's search for greener pastures this summer.''

Imagine that: Target Center being described as a greener pasture.

What I really took from Hollinger's comparison of Cleveland and Minnesota's rosters was this: I was right on last week when I wrote that James' supporting cast is getting worse, not better, and that the Cavs are in trouble.

I also think the Wolves are proceeding brilliantly this season. If you tank games all season, nobody will be able to accuse you of tanking games at the end of the season while you position yourselves to land the first pick in the draft.

 





 

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