Louis Villaume

Louis Villaume, a lifelong Minnesotan, has been a Vikings fan since the late 1960s. He's also the seventh grade football coach in Rockford and works with the school's varsity team.

Posts about Chester Taylor

Villaume: NFC North All That In 2011

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: August 29, 2011 - 12:43 PM

The third preseason game between the Vikings and the Cowboys shed light on what to expect this season. Minnesota played well, and if not for a special teams miscue, probably would have defeated a good Dallas team. But that is why they have preseason, and certainly a blocked FG return for a touchdown is no reason to have deflated hopes. These things can be fixed in time.

The offensive line, much aligned in media, responded with their best game. John Sullivan opened up a few big holes, as did Steve Hutchinson. Charlie Johnson played well at left tackle, Anthony Herrera was decent. Phil Loadholt was beaten on a rush once or twice, but held his own for the rest. The second unit faltered some, but Joe Webb appears to like that -- as he can then run free. Adrian Peterson looked brilliant again. Donovan McNabb was precise in attack. Bernard Berrian made some decent catches. All in all, a good day on the offense.

The defense once again missed a few tackles, but not too many. There was definitely openings in zone coverage that allowed Dez Bryant to haul in big gains. The pass rush, so important to the coverage, was not as strong as hoped. Jared Allen did seem to hurry Tony Romo a few times, but obviously this team needs Kevin Williams to penetrate from the inside. Fred Evans and Guion started at tackle and were adequate. Christian Ballard did get a sack in the second half. Chad Greenway looked like a 'franchise-tag' player. The Hendersons were decent, though E.J. was run through on the Cowboys only offensive TD. In the secondary, Cedric Griffin made tackles, but often it was after a decent gain. Chris Cook also gave up a few significant gains. Players fighting for roster spots stepped up, most notably Marcus Sherels and Jordan Parks.

Just about ready for the start. The only problem is, so is everyone else....

The Green Bay Packers, owners of four Super Bowl rings (including last year), are poised and ready. They get back JerMichael Finley and Ryan Grant to an already explosive offense. Aaron Rodgers has looked better every year and the only question marks seem to be the offensive line's struggle in the preseason. They are the favorite to win the division.

The Chicago Bears, last year's winner, will be in the mix. Jay Cutler has his best year in some time, and Matt Forte proved he was not on the decline in 2010. Also running the ball could be Marion Barber and Chester Taylor.  The Bears' defense will be strong led by Brain Urlacher and Lance Briggs. While not expected to win the division, many are choosing the Bears as a wild-card entrant.

The Detroit Lions are poised to achieve their first winning season in a long while, and with Matthew Stafford, Jahvid Best and Calvin Johnson, have big play potential that has been lacking. Of course, all the attention is on the defensive tackles: Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Expectations are higher in Detroit than at anytime since Barry Sanders left. The Lions are the popular "sleeper" pick for 2011.

So where does that leave the Vikings?

Most do not think Minnesota has a shot at the playoffs, but concede they will be improved under the new regime of Leslie Frazier and the savvy quarterback Donovan McNabb. Losing the entire Williams' wall for at least part of the season should have an impact on the defense. The secondary is suspect at best. The best hope is that the Vikings find a pass rush that limits the secondary being exposed.

An 8-8 season would be an accomplishment according to those in the know. The division is fierce, the schedule is tough. But the Dome has been repaired, and a new brighter look comes from the changed roof. The turf is new, and hopefully, safer than previous turf. Anything can happen, right?

I think the Vikings will be better than expected. If the turnover ratio changes, and it should, Minnesota will find itself in games many would not expect. McNabb's veteran leadership, combined with Adrian Peterson's skills, could be enough to make a run for the division title again. After all, Minnesota has won the division (in its' many forms) eighteen times, eight more than the nearest competitor (Green Bay and Chicago). We are quite used to winning.

A final preseason game stands in the way. Important battles to make the roster are the news of the day. The spots for the secondary and wide receiver should be especially tough. Sherels has become a fan favorite, as he is a Gophers alumni. Another former Gopher, defensive lineman Cedric McKinley, played well late in the Dallas game. At receiver, my new favorite, Emmanuel Arceneaux will try land a spot, or at minimum, make the practice squad. After his big catch against the Cowboys, the secret may be out. It is my opinion that he will soon make us forget about Sidney What's-his-Name.

My prediction? The Vikings will be better. Will better be enough? I do not know yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North Draft Review and Grade

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: April 25, 2010 - 11:44 AM

A review.

 

Chicago Bears.

What are they smoking down there near Lake Michigan? Trading away picks for quarterbacks who like to throw interceptions; drafting more quarterbacks; limiting growth to five overall picks. Times are tough in Illinois.

By the time they draft their first selection, most fans had tuned out of the NFL Draft. Pick 75 was a free safety, Major Wright, from Florida. The Bears best pick may have been at 141, where they added Joshua Moore, a cornerback from Kansas State. Then, with pick 181, they added another QB despite glaring needs all over the place. Dan LeFevour was one of the many QBs to drop off the charts, expected to go about three rounds earlier. The Central Michigan thrower is respected, but c'mon, he is a MAC quarterback.

Grade:  Incomplete (I cannot fail students who try .. I think they tried).

 

Detroit Lions.

I almost thought they would go a whole draft without taking a wide receiver, but with pick 255 they chose Tim Toone from Weber State. Watch him be better than all their first round picks of years' past.

The Lions had six picks, having traded up to get Jahvid Best with the 30th pick (with the Vikings). Of course, Ndamukong Suh, 2nd overall, is the focus of the draft, and he should be very good. But Best is small, and has a history of concussions already. The much needed corner was drafted at 66th, a slow one from Iowa, Amari Spievey. OT Jason Fox taken at 128th, fits a need. Detroit had two of the three first round picks for the North. They should improve the most, but, that is a misnomer.

Grade: B. Feels like an A compared to last 10-15 years with Matt Millen and friends.

 

Green Bay Packers.

After witnessing the Vikes batter Aaron Rodgers senseless for a couple of seasons, and Chad Clifton hobbling around like a one-legged sloth, we knew linemen would be chosen. But how many?

The Packers are close to the Vikings, and definitely a choice for wild-card early predictions, if not ready to usurp Minnesota. Green Bay had three selections at 23rd, 56th, and 71st. They added Bryan Bulaga, an OT from Iowa; Mike Neal, a DT from Purdue; and Morgan Bennett, a free safety from Georgia Tech. Of the three, Neal was the biggest stretch,as many 'experts' felt there were better DTs on the board. And back-to-back Big Ten athletes? Don't they watch the Bowl games? As expected, the Pack added a 2nd OL with the 169th pick in Marshall Newhouse, a OT or OG, from TCU. He could be a nice find. Late, Green Bay found James Starks, a 6'2, 220 RB from Buffalo, with the 193rd pick. He may make the squad as GB running backs are not that good.

Grade: B-. I expected more from a smart organization, I hold them to a higher standard than Detroit or Chicago, whom both are horrid at this draft thing.

 

Minnesota Vikings.

It was the draft to protect Brett Favre's return. Minnesota got him some protection in Toby Gerhart and Chris DeGeare. And we addressed some of the defensive concerns, but not all. Lifers were wondering why no Jimmy Clausen or late Tony Pike selections?

I love the efforts Favre gave us last year, and think he will return. With Chester Taylor gone, Minnesota had to find a replacement, and Gerhart from Stanford comes with high hopes. Experts wondered if Ben Tate of Auburn would not have been a wiser choice, but Gerhart could be a great extra blocker in passing situations, at least as good as AP; hopefully as good as Taylor. CB Chris Cook of Virgina, 34th pick, helps a sore spot as the team wonders what Cedric Griffin can bring after the late injury of 2009-10. Lito Sheppard, a Childress reunion player, will help. Experts love the choice of Everson Griffen, DE of USC, with the 100th pick. A potential steal as he dropped from early round possibilities. Pick 167 was local phenomenon Nate Triplett who played as Delano. He is a beast who could rival Farwell on special teams. Pick 199 is Joe Webb, a running quarterback from Alabama-Birmingham, who may move to WR or that funky Wild-Cat spot.

Grade: B+. I wanted Vikes to address OG earlier, and QB later. But there is a reason I am not in the draft room. Assuming my home team knows more than I do, I give them the best grade. Because I can.

 

Skol Vikings.


 

 

 

CB, RB, DE .. what is missing?

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: April 24, 2010 - 10:06 AM

Virginia's Chris Cook filled a need, we seemed to be down to the water boy against the Saints in the defensive secondary. I though we needed help at safety as well, but landing Cook makes sense. DT Brian Price of UCLA went right after this selection, and many hoped the Vikings would address an aging, albeit very good, defensive line. But Cook made sense, what with Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, and Matthew Stafford our opponents in nearly 40 percent of our games.

Stanford's Toby Gerhart was a decent pick. He is big and fast and replaces Chester Taylor. Some thought he was not the best running back available at the time. Ben Tate of Auburn ran under 4.4 and had an outstanding 40 inch vertical leap at the combine, But Gerhart will be a crowd favorite, blasting through tackles, running faster than his big body should. Hopefully, he is not a fumbler.

Trading up to get Gerhart, the Vikings forfeited their 3rd round selection, With the dropping down to the 34th pick earlier, however, the Vikings did switch 4th round picks with the Lions. So after a long wait, the Vikings landed Everson Griffen, a 1st round talent DE from USC. Griffen came to USC ultra-respected. He was a star running back (scored 22 tds) in high school along with his DE talents. He has a recent history of not playing to his potential, as he actually lost his job in 2008. But he came back with a vengeance in 2009.

All in all, good stuff. But where is the offensive line help?

 

 

 

Pack in the Dome

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: October 3, 2009 - 9:45 PM

The Minnesota Vikings began their storied history in 1961. One of the immediate rivals was the border Green Bay Packers. Monday Night's game will be the 96th regular season affair. In 2005 the two teams met in their only playoff battle in Green Bay. As of now, the Vikings are 45-50-1 lifetime against the Packers. The rivalry has been a roller-coaster or wins and losses. In the Dome, the head-to-head results are: 14-12-0 Minnesota.

The Metrodome has been home to the Vikings since the 1983-1984 season. The first time that Green Bay visited, Lynn Dickey led the Packers to a 29-21 victory. Dickey would win again in 1984. Zorn, Wright, Majkowski, Dilweg, and Tomczak would follow. When Brett Favre took over in 1992, our record versus Green Bay in the Dome was 3-6. The next sixteen years would be our rival led by Favre. Minnesota was 10-6 in those years.

In 2008 Aaron Rodgers started his first time in the Dome. Most people recall last year's 28-27 win that ended with Mason Crosby missing a 52 yard field goal. Rodgers was 15-26 with no interceptions. He threw for 142 yards. Adrian Peterson was the hero, running for 192 yards and a score. Chester Taylor added 113 total yards and a td. The game was not as close as the score indicated.

The Dome's history ends for the Minnesota Twins either in a day, or two, or sometime after this season. The football games will continue in the Hefty Bag, as will the sell-outs, and all the hype that makes Packers vs. Vikings games something special. Hope those who are lucky enough to have a ticket get there early. I suggest the grill be ready by 3 PM, we need you loose and loud.

 

 

Pack in the Dome

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: October 3, 2009 - 9:45 PM

The Minnesota Vikings began their storied history in 1961. One of the immediate rivals was the border Green Bay Packers. Monday Night's game will be the 96th regular season affair. In 2005 the two teams met in their only playoff battle in Green Bay. As of now, the Vikings are 45-50-1 lifetime against the Packers. The rivalry has been a roller-coaster or wins and losses. In the Dome, the head-to-head results are: 14-12-0 Minnesota.

The Metrodome has been home to the Vikings since the 1983-1984 season. The first time that Green Bay visited, Lynn Dickey led the Packers to a 29-21 victory. Dickey would win again in 1984. Zorn, Wright, Majkowski, Dilweg, and Tomczak would follow. When Brett Favre took over in 1992, our record versus Green Bay in the Dome was 3-6. The next sixteen years would be our rival led by Favre. Minnesota was 10-6 in those years.

In 2008 Aaron Rodgers started his first time in the Dome. Most people recall last year's 28-27 win that ended with Mason Crosby missing a 52 yard field goal. Rodgers was 15-26 with no interceptions. He threw for 142 yards. Adrian Peterson was the hero, running for 192 yards and a score. Chester Taylor added 113 total yards and a td. The game was not as close as the score indicated.

The Dome's history ends for the Minnesota Twins either in a day, or two, or sometime after this season. The football games will continue in the Hefty Bag, as will the sell-outs, and all the hype that makes Packers vs. Vikings games something special. Hope those who are lucky enough to have a ticket get there early. I suggest the grill be ready by 3 PM, we need you loose and loud.

 

 

      

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