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 coaches

Vikings lose, Harvin debuts

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 17, 2013 - 9:20 PM

Devoted my column to Percy Harvin, so here I'll state the obvious: Christian Ponder should be done as a Viking.

Josh Freeman's horrific performance against the Giants gave everyone pause. It made sense to back off the Vikings' original plans of testing him for the rest of the season. It made sense to allow him to recover from the concussion the team says he had, and to give him time to work on the mechanics that failed him.

Now that Ponder has written a coda to his Minnesota career with a scattershot performance in the Vikings' 41-20 loss at Seattle, it's time for Freeman to give it another try.

The way the Vikings hve handled backup Matt Cassel is proof that they think of him the same way the rest of the NFL does - as a nice backup and nothing more.

Freeman hasn't offered much evidence this year, in Tampa or Minnesota, that he can regain the form that made him a solid NFL starter. But he's still more promising than Ponder and Cassel. Even if there is a one percent chance that Freeman can use the rest of this season to reestablish himself as a quality starter, that puts him ahead of Ponder and Cassel.

And now the Vikings have the perfect opportunity to break Freeman back in: Against a Packers team without Aaron Rodgers.

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I get into this a little bit in the column, but the feeling in the Seahawks' lockerroom was that Harvin will make a very good team great.

Russell Wilson has moved himself into consideration as the best of the league's young quarterbacks. Andrew Luck gets the nod from most experts, but Wilson may be closer to Luck than most are willing to admit.

He's accurate, athletic, smart, tough. He's a great leader. With Harvin, he'll have a downfield threat that will torture safeties who want to creep toward the line of scrimmage to stop Marshawn Lynch. He can return kickoffs, take handoffs and catch short passes, but it's his speed that will make the Seahawks a markedly better offense.

``The thing about him is, he draws attention,'' Wilson said. ``It's hard to stop him because he's so fast, he's so electric, he loves the game, he's so physical. He's the type of guy who's so fast - he runs a 4.3 40, easy - he can make guys miss, but he also wants to be physical with you. It's tough for defensive players to know how to cover him.''

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I think Adrian Peterson is hurting. Either that, or his offensive line has made him gun-shy.

He just doesn't hit the hole the way he did last year. That's either because he's dealing with injuries (including the groin problem that bothered him this week) or because he doesn't expect to get through the first wave of defenders cleanly.

He averaged 3.1 yards per carry on Sunday, and while he didn't have many openings, he also didn't attack the way usually does.

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If Ponder does get benched, John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph should go on strike. Ponder's strength as a quarterback was getting the ball to the tight end. Cassel and Freeman are both more likely to look to their wide receivers.

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Is everyone still excited about turning Joe Webb into a receiver? Sunday, in his most extensive playing time, he caught two passes for nine yards. Every time a talented athlete fails at his initial position in the NFL, everyone says, ``Turn him into a receiver!''

It's not that easy. Webb is still a spectacular athlete and a wonderful runner, but he hasn't built up a lifetime of repetitions at receiver - running patterns, accelerating out of breaks, reading coverages, catching the ball under duress, building up a rapport with a quarterback. It may take years, and guys who are on their second position don't have years.

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The Vikings had little chance to win on Sunday, and Ponder made a bunch of mistakes, but I thought the key moment in the game might have come late in the first quarter. It was 3-3. The Vikings faced third-and-9 from their 37.

Peterson snuck out of the backfield on a screen pass. He was wide open. He had blockers in front of him. He may have scored. He certainly would have gotten the first down and more. And Ponder misfired on a simple throw.

Let's say Peterson scores there. At the very least the game remains competitive for a longer period of time.

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I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. (5:15 Seattle time!) and on 1500ESPN during the Judd&Dubay Show. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

Vikings...win?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 7, 2013 - 10:31 PM

For the second time in three seasons, the Vikings staged a comeback to beat Washington, earning a victory that damaged their draft position.

In 2011, the Vikings’ victory at Washington cost them a chance to draft Robert Griffin III. Thursday, their second-half pass rush beat up Griffin, enabling the Vikings to pull out a 34-27 victory at the Metrodome.

Someday, the Vikings may regret this. Thursday night, just like Christmas Eve 2011, the Vikings ignored what might be best for the franchise and won in impressive fashion.

Christian Ponder played his best game of the season before leaving with a left shoulder injury. Adrian Peterson scored two touchdowns. John Carlson ably replaced Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph. And Kevin Williams recorded 2 ½ sacks – his first two-sack game since 2009 – to help the Vikings’ defense dominate the last 25 minutes of the game.

It was a strange, surprising, and maybe costly victory.         

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.

Quick postgame reaction

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: October 27, 2013 - 10:29 PM

So, which quarterback do you want the Vikings to target with their pick near the top of the 2014 draft?

That might be the only question worth asking about the 2013 Vikings.

Their blowout loss to the Packers on Sunday night leaves them at 1-6, with no quarterback worthy of even an interim tag, and desperate to fix the cornerback position.

Aaron Rodgers demonstrated how a franchise quarterback can control a game on Sunday night, whipping the Vikings with brilliant reads, quick passes, timely runs and flawless decision-making.

The Vikings start Christian Ponder for some reason, and he looked lost throughout the Vikings' 44-31 loss.

Of course, he, unlike Rodgers, didn’t have the luxury of throwing against the Vikings’ cornerbacks.

Maybe that’s the problem with the Vikings’ quarterbacks. They don’t see NFL-caliber corners until they play in games.

What was frightening about the Vikings’ performance on Sunday was that they played with evident fire, they benefited from iffy penalties that led to two scoring drives, Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 109 yards for a  touchdown, and they were still embarrassed by a far superior quarterback and team.

Time for the Vikings to start scouting Johnny Football, Teddy Ballgame, and any other college quarterback worthy of a nickname.

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I'll be guest-hosting the Judd&Dubay Show with Judd tomorrow morning, 9-1 on 1500ESPN.

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.

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