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 NFL draft

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.

 

Minnesota: The State of Football

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 9, 2012 - 6:29 PM

The Gophers and Vikings are a combined 3-0.

Of course, they should be, given the level of competition.

I'm not sure exactly what to make of the Vikings' 26-23 victory. They had awful lapses and struggled to beat a lousy team at home, but there were these high points:

-Adrian Peterson, the subject of my Monday morning column, carried 17 times. That's 17 times more than I would have given it to him and about five more than the coaches wanted to, but he looked remarkably healthy and spry. Without him, the Vikings lose this game.

I hope for his sake he doesn't spend the rest of his career on bad teams. He is a rare competitor and deserves to play for championships.

-Christian Ponder looked shaky early, but got better as the game went on. I thought the best thing offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave did was call a few quick passes to Percy Harvin late in the first half. That loosened up the Jaguars' defense, and calmed Ponder, who was at his best in clutch situations late in the game and in overtime.

-The defense was lucky that Blaine Gabbert missed a wide-open receiver for a touchdown and that Maurice Jones-Drew wasn't at full speed. Chris Cook should have played the Jags' go-ahead touchdown pass much better, but how can a receiver get that much space in that situation?

-Chad Greenway made a couple of key plays in pass defense, a good sign from a player who has to be more than just a solid run-stopper for this defense to thrive.

-Jared Allen spent a lot of time on the sideline in the first half looking very angry. He's done that before, but it's ominous this early in the season.

-Kyle Rudolph is going to have an excellent career if he stays healthy and Ponder remains the quarterback.

-Second-guess time: Peterson had two rushing touchdowns on which he was barely slowed as he got to the end zone. Vikings have the ball inside the Jacksonville 5 in the fourth quarter. Twice, Peterson is sent left as a decoy. Both times, the Vikings wound up with a muddled-looking pass play and no open receivers.

Don't over-think it. Give it to Peterson.

-Blair Walsh was awfully impressive. He nailed all four of his field goals, including the 55-yard that sent the game to overtime, and he boomed his kickoffs.

I don't know anybody who doesn't like and respect Ryan Longwell, but Walsh is making Rick Spielman look pretty smart today.

-Only six of Ponder's 20 completions went to wideouts. That's probably wise, but it also indicates that this offense is going to be very limited.

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I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 on Monday. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

 

Not a bad draft for Vikes

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: April 28, 2012 - 6:12 PM
Time to grade the Vikings’ first draft under the leadership of general manager Rick Spielman:
He gets an A, and a B.
He gets an A for doing about as well as could be expected given what he had to work with. He was wise to trade down one spot, pick up three extra picks from the Browns, and still get the guy he wanted in Matt Kalil.
He did well to trade up to get a much-needed safety in the first round. He bolstered the secondary and added players who make sense for Bill Musgrave’s offense, including two (?) intriguing Arkansas receivers.
He gets a B in terms of adding transformative players. When you have the third pick in the draft, you’d like to be able to get someone who produces touchdowns, turnovers or sacks.
Kalil was the right pick given the circumstances, but he’s hard to get excited about.
This was a draft that made sense for the Vikings, a draft that could set them up to contend for a playoff spot in a couple of years.
Spielman did well, and his work has just begun.

Blog

Time to grade the Vikings’ first draft under the leadership of general manager Rick Spielman:

He gets an A, and a B.

He gets an A for doing about as well as could be expected given what he had to work with. He was wise to trade down one spot, pick up three extra picks from the Browns, and still get the guy he wanted in Matt Kalil.

He did well to trade up to get a much-needed safety in the first round. He bolstered the secondary and added players who make sense for Bill Musgrave’s offense, including two (?) intriguing Arkansas receivers.

He gets a B in terms of adding transformative players. When you have the third pick in the draft, you’d like to be able to get someone who produces touchdowns, turnovers or sacks.

Kalil was the right pick given the circumstances, but he’s hard to get excited about.

This was a draft that made sense for the Vikings, a draft that could set them up to contend for a playoff spot in a couple of years.

Spielman did well, and his work has just begun.

I'll write more about the draft for the Sunday Star Tribune. Also on Sunday, I’ll be hosting The Ron Gardenhire Show from 9:30-10 and Sunday Sports Talk from 10-noon with Tom Pelissero. We’ll be in the mobile press box outside Target Field. If you come by to visit, please bring fire.

I’m covering the Twins-Royals game for the Monday Star Tribune. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

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I write more about the draft for the Sunday Star Tribune. Also on Sunday, I’ll be hosting The Ron Gardenhire Show from 9:30-10 and Sunday Sports Talk from 10-noon with Tom Pelissero. We’ll be in the mobile press box outside Target Field. If you come by to visit, please bring a bonfire.
I’m covering the Twins-Royals game for the Monday Star Tribune. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
 

Rare NFL draft that's better than expected

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: April 26, 2012 - 11:08 PM

Let me tell you a secret: Most sportswriters hate the NFL draft.

It requires months of work, much of which proves meaningless to the local team. It's often over-hyped and over-discussed and becomes fertile ground for bad rumors, like the funny one going around this afternoon about the Vikings really wanting Morris Claiborne or, funnier, Justin Blackmon.

Thursday was different. My Friday column explores Rick Spielman's first draft as Vikings' GM, but I'll get in a few quick hitters here:

-This was actually an interesting draft both nationally and locally.

Nationally, the NFL had two tremendously talented yet dissimilar quarterbacks go with the first two picks. Locally, we had the Vikings fooling a lot of national media people about their intentions, then trading down to get the fourth pick, and later trading back into the bottom of the first round, ending up with Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith, two players they had targeted all along.

-While many people have rightly obsessed about cornerback, I love the fact the Vikings took the best safety available. In the Tampa-2 scheme, you need a safety who can drop into the box and make tackles, and prevent big pass plays. And while you can game-plan around a good cornerback, you can't game-plan around a safety.

Think of the impact safeties on good teams in recent years: Troy Polamalu, Bob Sanders, LaRon Landry. They intercept passes and blow up running plays and generally make more impact plays per game than even great cornerbacks.

-I love both picks. Kalil, to me, was the safest pick in the draft, given the number of sure-thing quarterbacks who flame out. Before the draft started, I thought Smith would be ideal for the Vikings but didn't think he'd fall to them, or that they'd be able to trade up high enough to take him.

-Kalil sounded genuinely excited about playing for the Vikings. With Kalil, Christian Ponder, Percy Harvin, John Sullivan, Phil Loadholt, John Carlson, Kyle Rudolph, Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, the Vikings have an intriguing core of young offensive players. Their success will be dependent on Ponder's development, but he'll have a better chance to develop with a bunch of talented young players around him.

-I think Spielman had a very good day, and he left little doubt that he'll target receiver and cornerback during the rest of the draft. He admitted that the draft room worked much better with one person in charge. ``It went a lot smoother,'' he said.

Hard to disagree.

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I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 on Friday to discuss the draft. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

 

I was first in Vikings' press room...which was a mistake

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: April 26, 2012 - 4:09 PM

Checking in from the Vikings' press room, where it has been proven that myself, Tom Pelissero and Kevin Seifert don't have a lot going on in our lives.

We're here, waiting on what has become the most interesting pick in the draft: The Vikings' selection at No. 3.

Vikings' general manager Rick Spielman has succeeding in adding mystery to the pick. My early view on what could be an unpredictable night is this:

The Vikings really can't go wrong.

If they take USC left tackle Matt Kalil, they'll be getting a good player at a position of need.

The same could be said if they drafted LSU corner Morris Claiborne.

Or Oklahoma state receiver Justin Blackmon.

I wrote the other day that Kalil makes the most sense for the Vikings. The immediate future of the franchise depends on protecting and developing Christian Ponder, and Kalil can immediately help with that.

There has been a late wave of media support for Claiborne at No. 3, based on the premise that stopping excellent passing attacks in the NFC North is the Vikings' biggest area of need. That's hard to dispute. But the Vikings should get Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook back on the field next year, and the Vikings' defensive system doesn't place a premium on elite one-on-one coverage.

I can't really argue against Claiborne. I just slightly favor Kalil.

Blackmon is a fine prospect, but I would rank him as the third-best prospect of the three and the riskiest.

The Vikings will improve themselves with either Kalil or Claiborne. They would also improve themselves with the other possibility: A trade for the right price.

I have no idea which rumors to believe and which to dismiss, so I"m not going to break them down here. If I'm the Vikings, I trade down only if I think I can land one of the players they truly value - guessing Kalil, Claiborne and Blackmon - as well as additional picks.

All three scenarios - taking Kalil, taking Claiborne or trading down - could play out very well for the Vikings.

I'll be covering the draft tonight along with Dan Wiederer, Mark Craig and Chip Scoggins.

You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

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Wrote about Wolves' GM David Kahn the other day, and those who support him kept pointing out that the team improved this year and could have made the playoffs with better health.

You're missing the point. The point is that he's been the GM for three years and has brought in one quality starter, Ricky Rubio, who fell to him. He has yet to make one basketball decision that demonstrated professional insight. His best moves - drafting Rubio, hiring Rick Adelman and drafting Derrick Williams - were all easy, obvious, decisions.

We've got to have higher standards in this town. I had people arguing that he's fine because he isnt' that important in the organization because Adelman can make the personnel decisions.

Do you really want an older coach making personnel decisions? Isn't that how teams wind up mortgaging their future, by trying too desperately to win right away? Don't you want Adelman to at least have a smart counter-balance in the front office?

I do.

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Buckle up, people. There will be a showdown in Target Field this weekend.

The Royals beat Cleveland on Thursday and head to Minnesota with a record of 5-14, same as your Twins.

The tension will be...awkward?

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I'm saying it here and now, just as I've been saying for months: I think Andrew Luck will be a good NFL quarterback, and I think Robert Griffin III will be better than Luck.

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I'll check back later tonight when we have some news.

I'll be on KFGO in Fargo with Mike McFeely at 4:35 to talk the draft and Twins. I'll be on 1500espn at my usual time, 2:05, on Friday, and Pelissero and I will run a studio version of Sunday Sports Talk on Sunday from 10-noon, following the Ron Gardenhire Show at 9:30.

 

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