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 defense

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.

Souhan blog: Eli's different when he sees purple

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: October 21, 2013 - 6:21 PM

Eli Manning has made five career starts against the Vikings.

In those games, he's thrown three touchdown passes and 11 interceptions, and the Giants have gone 1-4.

Against the rest of the NFL, Manning's career numbers are: 217 touchdowns, 148 interceptions, and a 77-59 record.

Perhaps Manning's worst game as a pro came in Jersey against the Vikings. The Vikings would finish 8-8. The Giants would rally to beat the previously undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.

On Nov. 25, 2007, the game was a mismatch. The Vikings intercepted Manning four times, returning three interceptions for touchdowns, and won, 41-17, with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.

Dwight Smith intercepted Manning twice, returning one for a touchdown. Chad Greenway and Darren Sharper each intercepted one and scored on returns.

Sharper had a knack for reading Manning, and baiting him into throwing into coverage. And those Vikings defenses were particularly tough on teams that wanted to play traditionally, by running to set up the pass. Pat Williams and Kevin Williams didn't allow many rushing yards, and the front four put lots of pressure on quarterbacks in obvious passing situations.

Manning lost his first four career starts against the Vikings before finally beating them, 21-13, on Dec. 13, 2010. Even in victory, the Vikings held him to one touchdown pass and intercepted him twice.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN at 9:30 Tuesday with Judd&Dubay.

Souhan: Cassel is the right choice

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 29, 2013 - 3:18 PM

Matt Cassel wasn’t always accurate. He fumbled on a play that could have turned the game in the Steelers’ favor if the Viking hadn’t recovered. But he was decisive and he threw with certainty and timing, allowing the Vikings’ receivers to make plays down the field and run after the catch.

That should be good enough to win the starting quarterback job for the forseeable future. The Vikings have built a strong offensive team and Christian Ponder’s indecisiveness had sabotaged the team’s plans to complement Adrian Peterson with legitimate outside receivers like Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson.

Sunday, with Cassel behind center, Simpson and Jennings looked like big-time playmakers. Not coincidentally, Peterson found room to run. The result was a 34-27 Vikings victory over Pittsburgh that saves, or at least extends the competitive portion of, the Vikings’ season.

By the time they come off a bye to face Carolina at home, the Vikings should have a healthy secondary, and a quality group of receivers who will have had more time to work with Cassel.

After one start, it's clear: Cassel is better than Ponder, and the right choice moving forward.

Time for Cassel

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 26, 2013 - 2:47 AM

My column in Thursday's paper recreates the way I think the conversation between Leslie Frazier and Christian Ponder might have gone.

Here I'll put things more plainly.

Ponder coming down with a mysterious rib injury is perfect for the Vikings. They can take a look at Matt Cassel in a must-win game heading into the bye week, then make a more full-informed decision on the quarterback position. If Cassel plays brilliantly, he keeps the job. If he plays poorly, the Vikings can go back to Ponder and hope he has cleared his head, and they never would have actually benched him.

Of course, this is only speculation. The Vikings aren't about to tip their hand on this one.

For those wondering why, given all of the Vikings' problems, Ponder is the only one facing a potential benching, I go back to what Jerry Burns always said: Changing left guards doesn't send a jolt of electricity through your team. Changing your quarterback does.

Also, remember how much the Vikings invested in their passing game during the offseason. They signed Greg Jennings. They traded into the first round to draft Cordarrelle Patterson. Having a quarterback willing to hang in the pocket long enough for those players to get open (assuming Bill Musgrave actually puts Patterson on the field) might be a good idea.

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I keep waiting for some sign of the NFL's popularity in London.

Haven't seen any indication in London proper that there is an NFL game this Sunday. Haven't seen a word in the major newspapers or on the morning TV shows. Or on the evening TV shows. I'm sure there has been media coverage, because there are plenty of reporters covering the Vikings' appearances and practices. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places.

The NFL chose well when it chose the Vikings to play here and spend the week promoting the game. They're a willing group of interviewees and ambassadors. When I spoke with Jared Allen yesterday, he used the phrase ``bangers and mash'' about 12 times, saying he loves the food in London.

During the Olympics, I often made fun of London's food, but Allen's right. You can find great restaurants in London, just not where I was staying during the Olympics. The Strib's traveling entourage has particularly enjoyed the Grazing Goat Pub. Mark Craig even tried a dark beer before switching back to something resembling his traditional Bud Lights.

I thought the highlight of the press conferences was Rick Spielman saying he called home to tell his wife to bring her bathing suit, the weather was so nice here.

Not so fast, Rick. It's overcast and threatening today.

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I'm spending today with photojournalist Carlos Gonzalez in London, looking for some local color. I mean, colour. Thanks for reading. Remember, we have Mark Craig, Chip Scoggins, Carlos and myself covering all angles of the Vikings' trip to London, including the game. Please check back on Startribune.com for columns, stories, notes, blog posts, photos and videos.

Souhan blog: Adrian Peterson on London

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 24, 2013 - 9:51 AM

Adrian Peterson looked tired. At least he looked better than London's version of the Vikings' mascot.

That version was a small cutout figure outside the soccer fields surrounding Wembley Stadium, where the Vikings made their first London appearance on Tuesday.

The mascot was small and purplish, with what looked like goat horns. It looked like what the creators of Pokemon would have envisioned a Viking to be.

Peterson just looked worn out. He played catch with London schoolchildren and ran them through the drills. Here's what he had to say as the Vikings prepare for their game on Sunday at Wembley against the Steelers:

``I haven't had the opportunity to talk to anybody who's played over here, but we have a pretty good game plan to adjust to the time change and be ready to play on Sunday,'' Peterson said. ``It's just another game on the schedule, but it's definitely time for us to get a W. This is not a vacation for us. It's time for us to focus and win a game.

``It can be challening, but it's challenging for the other team, too. Equal playing field.''

I was impressed by the attitude of the Vikings' players and coaches. They put on a good show with the kids.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he didn't know if defensive backs Chris Cook, A.J. Jefferson and Jamarca Sanford would practice on Wednesday. That's bad news this week. The Steelers don't run the ball well. Their only hope offensively is for Ben Roethlisgberger to make big plays with his wide receivers, particularly Antonio Brown.

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Please check in at startribune.com regularly for updates, stories, columns, blog posts and videos from London, where Chip Scoggins, Mark Craig, photojournalist Carlos Gonzalez and myself will be covering the team all week.

I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon with Judd and Dubay each weekday, per usual.

 

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