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 Leslie Frazier

Villaume: Return of the ViKings

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: September 30, 2012 - 7:36 PM

Percy Harvin made a statement instantly. Jerome Felton made a key block on the outside and he was gone. Minnesota would take a 7-0 lead in seconds. Later in the game, Marcus Sherels, refusing to fair catch in traffic, shook off a few arm tackles and raced into the endzone as well. Two return touchdowns and a 20-13 win over Detroit.

I cannot recall a game where Minnesota returned both a kickoff and a punt in the same game. And while I can recall games where the Vikings have won without scoring an offensive TD, it has been a long while. The 2009 and 1998 NFC Championship teams both featured outstanding offenses with parts of a good defense. But how long since 10-3 wins? Take away the returns and Minnesota's offense produced two field goals. Six points and a victory.

Adrian Peterson kept the possession clock near even as he carved through the Lions defense. Christian Ponder avoided mistakes. Add a gutsy call by Bill Musgrave late in the game passing to new 2012 addition Jerome Simpson, and you have enough to win this year.

Kudos to everyone associated with the defense. The defensive line had five sacks, Letroy Guion and Everson Griffen each with two. Chad Greenway had eleven tackles, Antoine WInfield deflected passes and had ten tackles. Rookie Harrison Smith saved a touchdown with a hard hit on Calvin Johnson.Josh Robinson looked good in coverage.  A total team defensive effort.

And that is what has been missing since the domination of the 1970s. Sure we have had many playoff teams, great offenses, but when it came to playoff games we could not stop the best teams in the NFL. Not sure who to thank, or if it will last, but for right now Minnesota is winning with a hard-hitting defense.

Like old times. 

Fingers will stop pointing at Leslie Frazier, as he raises his Northern record to 1-8. The team is playing hard. Adrian is running like a purple beast. Percy Harvin continues to electrify the fan base. And we have a good pass rush with a run stopping front seven. If these young defensive backs like Smith, Robinson, and Chris Cook keep improving, we might just get cocky.

It is good to be a (Vi)King again...

Skol

 

 

 

 

Villaume: Purple fan's predictions on 2012

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: September 9, 2012 - 11:06 AM

It is almost here.

Actually it was here Wednesday, the opening game between the Giants and the Cowboys. Two of my personal 'most-hated' teams in the NFL. Dallas and New York have become staples of NFL television. I watch them both far too often. I really do not care for what happens in the oft-bloated NFL East.

Nor do I care for afternoons of the AFC West. Instead, give me the NFC North. But unless you have a package that provides other game opportunities, or you want to spend Sunday managing the internet and watching from a computer, you basically get what they give you. Maybe that is why I know Oakland and Denver's history better than Chicago or Detroit.

But I digress.

What can we expect in 2012 from our young, recovering Minnesota Vikings? Now minutes away from opening kickoff, most fans I have read, listened, or watched do not expect great things. They realize that Christian Ponder is young and inexperienced. They see Adrian Peterson trying to come back too quickly from a major injury. They scoff at the talent Minnesota displays at wide receiver after Percy Harvin. A defensive backfield too old (Winfield), too young (Smith), or inconsistent (everybody else). Linebackers that make the famous "no-name defense" of Miami seem celebratory.

Their predictions have ranged from no better than 3-13 to a modest 6-10.

And then there is the optimists, blind if unsuccessful, loyal to the end. They see elite talent in Jared Allen, A rejuvenated Kevin Williams, Percy Harvin, Adrian Peterson, and a strong rookie class. They see an 'easy' schedule in the first half of the season. They see Chicago getting old. They see the Packers defense crumbling. They see the Lions as paper tigers. They see what they want to see.

These predictions range from 8-8 to about 11-5 and and a playoff birth. (Even blind homers are realists somewhat, no 13-3 out there).

The funniest part of it all is that most fans on either side will not change their minds after this first game. They will see what they want to see. If the Vikings win, it will be because the Jaguars are bad. It will be because Maurice Jones-Drew held out, or the top tackler was injured. If Minnesota loses, it will be first game jitters for the young ones. Or bad officiating, or play-calling. I find it most humorous that about 1,000,000 Minnesotans feel they are better play callers than Bill Musgrave or Leslie Frazier. Every game. Every year. Except Bud Grant, hallowed be his name.

My prediction?

I will be watching no matter what... Right, honey?

 

Villaume: Drought or Famine? Vikings' Fans Want Purple Reign Back

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: August 24, 2012 - 11:11 AM

When one talks playoff droughts in Minnesota, only the oldest of fans can give a knowing nod. The 1960s was home to the beginning of the expansion franchise, and those first seven years. It was the Norm Van Brocklin years, the coach for the first six fledgling years. Van Brocklin went 29-51-4 with the 1964 season (8-5-1) our only winning year. Bud Grant was pursued and accepted the position in time for the 1967 season. Grant went 3-8-3 that year, before the Vikings' winning ways would begin.

The Vikings' first division title (1968) would precede a run of ten playoff visits in eleven years. Four Super Bowl visits. An NFL Championship. Three NFC championships. Ten division titles. Numerous individual awards, most notably Alan Page's MVP award in 1971. Fran Tarkenton was traded for valuable draft choices by Minnesota in 1968 and then re-acquired in 1972. After a missed playoff, Tarkenton led a run of three Super Bowl visits in four years (1973, 1974, 1976) interrupted by the Hail Mary loss to the Cowboys.

We thought the good times would never end.

The first time since expansion that Minnesota ever missed the play-offs for more than one consecutive season after the expansion years was the drought of 1983-1986. Minnesota finished playing at the Met (1981) and made the playoffs in a strike-shortened 1982 season. Grant started 7-2 in 1983, but finished and retired with an 8-8 season. Les Steckel followed it what is known as the worst of years with Pecos River and a 3-13 mark. Grant was then reinstated and went 7-9 before retiring again, a la Muhammad Ali or Michael Jordan. Jerry Burns was then hired and went 9-7 but missed the playoffs. That winning season signaled the end to the losing way of 1983-86.

Jerry Burns led Minnesota through its' second drought in 1990-91. It was a year after the blockbuster trade that sent the Vikings' future off to Dallas for Herschel Waker. After Minnesota surprised the NFL in 1987 with its' run to the NFC Championship despite suffering an 0-3 beginning with replacement players, the Viking brass felt they were one player away from a Super Bowl win. Boy, were they wrong. Walker was released in 1991 and Jerry Burns quit. Minnesota returned to their winning way.

The Vikings made the playoffs eight of the next nine seasons. When present day Packers and Bears fans make fun of the present day Vikings, the older Vikings' fan can smile. They remember stretches like this one and the 1970s. In 1998, Minnesota amassed one of the greatest offenses in all of NFL history. Rookie Randy Moss, Randall Cunningham, Cris Carter and more. The loss at home to the Falcons by a missed short kick may be the single greatest disappointment in Minnesota history. The 15-1 team would probably be voted Most Likely to Win the Super Bowl in a Do Over, though fans of 2009, 1975, or 1969 may disagree.

Minnesota won playoff games in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000. They were not just making the playoffs, they were knocking on the championship door. And then that is when the weather changed. Minnesota has only made the playoffs three of the last eleven seasons. The 2004 team backed in at 8-8 (but upset the Packers in Lambeau so they are revered). In 2008, Minnesota made a run with Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson at the helm. In 2009, Minnesota famously added Brett Favre and made a serious bid for their first Super Bowl, only to be beaten (literally) by a very aggressive Saints team.

A pair of three year droughts ensued in 2001. We will call this the 2000s Famine.

First, the 2001-03 drought where Minnesota went 20-28. The successful but turbulent Denny Green was let go for Mike Tice at the end of the 2001 season. Tice had a good thing going in 2003, starting 6-0, only to finish with a 9-7 record and missing the playoffs after a last-second Cardinals loss.

Minnesota started 5-1 the next year, only to fall to 8-8 by season's end. The victory over Green Bay kept his job for another year, but eventually Tice would be replaced by Brad Childress.

The drought of 2005-07 was one of mediocrity. The Vikings actually had only one losing season (2006, 6-10) and went 23-25 over the three years. In 2007, Minnesota drafted Adrian Peterson and that seemed to change their fortune. Peterson's 296 yard game in his rookie season typified the type of rain to change a landscape.

Minnesota was decent in 2008, going 11-5 and winning their first division title since 2000. And then there was the addition of Favre, and as any fan who is of reading-age knows, the 2009 season. But the 2009 team was not one of longevity. The holes began to appear. Players left or were injured. A great team disassembled rapidly. Brad Childress would be replaced by Leslie Frazier after a 3-7 start to the 2010 season, one filled with false promise.

Our present drought 2010- is at the two year mark. We are 9-23 in that time, making this the barest drought of all time, including the expansion years. Many feel we are in rebuilding mode and will not see the playoffs for a time. Others remain optimistic that this drought will be no longer than other recent ones.

Many good signs are appearing. A rejuvenated Adrian Peterson. A defensive end that is capable of having season's like Alan Page, Chris Doleman or Keith Millard. Again. A sharpening of the skills of young Christian Ponder. The explosiveness of players like Percy Harvin and Jerome Simpson. The addition of an offensive tackle (Matt Kalil) with hopes of a Ron Yary or Gary Zimmerman type future. Good signs.

But drought is tough to cure. Usually when it is dry in one region (ours) it is fertile somewhere else (the rest of the division). It will take good farming but maybe an added dose of hardship elsewhere. Not to wish ill on my rival teams, but maybe a plight of some kind. Like turnovers from your star player. Or missed field goals.

Because I do expect it to rain soon. And the promised land still waits for us all.

Glory and Skol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Villaume: What can Vikings fans be thankful for?

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: November 22, 2011 - 11:08 PM

Thanksgiving is the football holiday. This Thanksgiving there will be thirty-some at my house. And it will be good. I have been committed to watching the NFL on Thanksgiving since I was quite young. One of the reasons we took over the holiday within our extended family was so that we could enjoy the games without guilt.

And we have. Pass the pie.

This year is another where my Viking hopes have been dashed like a tournament team in the first round. I am of the 70s era, where Minnesota controlled the NFC, let alone the division. I witnessed five years of NEVER losing to the Packers. NFC championships were a common place; division championships expected.

But the 2010s decade has not been good. Year Two with Brett Favre a disaster. This year's transition from Donovan McNabb to Christian Ponder costly. At 2-8 there is little hope... unless you live and breathe Vikings. If that is the case, even year's like this one are dramatic. And there is much to be thankful for this year...

Like the decision to get rid of Bryant McKinnie. It was a bold statement to the team and the league. Leslie Frazier was here to set things right, and coming to camp out of shape worthy of expulsion. Sadly, I see McKinnie nearly every week playing decent tackle for the Baltimore Ravens. Right next to Matt Birk.

Or the jettisoning of Tarvaris Jackson and Sidney Rice to stupid Seattle. How could any team possibly think these two would be worth multi-million long term deals? Big money was saved. Yes, the 4-6 Seahawks look downright ridiculous compared to our 2-8 squad.

Thankful we took the time this off-season to bring in Donovan McNabb. The two year deal looks to be a stipend for mentoring a rookie. Master McNabb demonstrated early that on any given Sunday a team can beat another... for a half.

Or the battle between Owner Wilf, the politicians, and others as to whether the Vikings will play in Minneapolis, Arden Hills, or another state. But with the tailgating locations provided by the Metrodome, they could play in Los Angeles and there might still be $40 car spots taken as if nothing ever changed. In the 70s we partied right outside Met Stadium before the game. In the Metrodome we pour in through traffic similar to Occupy Minnesota.

Oh, I am thankful.

But there really are things to be thankful for at 2-8. Like the fact that only one team (the 0-10 Indianapolis Colts) has a worse record. That puts us in a three way tie for the second draft selection with the Carolina Panthers and the St. Louis Rams. And with only four teams at 3-7 it is a safe bet that we will have a high draft selection like the Adrian Peterson year. The 2012 NFL Draft should be a chance to remedy a two year ailment that won't go away anytime soon.

You see, once the playoffs are dead, hoping for a good draft pick becomes a way to compensate for a lost season. I still am overjoyed with a win, but I also concede that there is a benefit to playing a rookie or inexperienced quarterback beyond experience. Ask the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7), the Miami Dolphins (3-7), the Washington Redskins (3-7), Rams, or the Panthers. Or the winless Colts. Raw QBs make mistakes. Eh, Christian?

And as a Minnesota fan I can quickly reference the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA. No team in Minnesota history has done more to familiarize me with the draft process. No other sport have I spent so much time researching top draft picks. And years and years of failures chasing that number one pick have been more entertaining than the few years with Kevin What's-his-Name.

Well... I am thankful that the Vikings have been in better hands than the Wolves.

We still are, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Villaume: The Future is Now for Ponder

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: October 20, 2011 - 9:06 PM

The present mood among the Vikings and their faithful is sour. A poor start due to second half failures has placed Minnesota in a position of rebuilding before the season's seventh game. Leslie Frazier has given up on the 34 year-old Donovan McNabb despite a decent performance in the most recent loss. Christian Ponder will be asked to perform as he did in last week's mop-up role. He looked good in a meaningless minutes of the Vikings' 39-10 loss to the Bears.

It makes sense in that the chances of making the playoffs disappeared with close losses to the Chargers, Lions, Chiefs, and Bucs, not to mention the blowout by the Bears, to start the season. A rebuild would begin with the first round pick Christian Ponder. Chosen 12th overall, he is the second highest quarterback ever drafted by Minnesota. Only Daunte Culpepper was chosen higher, he being with the 11th pick in 1999.

Culpepper's first year was very different. He played in only one game, and never threw a pass. However, he would go on to start all sixteen games the next year (2000), winning eleven, and threw for nearly 4,000 yards and a quarterback rating of 98.0. The extra year to learn appeared to be good to Culpepper. But Culpepper never panned out. He had big numbers early in his career with the Vikings, but finished 38-42 overall and a mere 2-2 in the playoffs.

Tommy Kramer was chosen with the 27th pick in the first round of the 1977 draft. In his first season he started only a single game (lost) and appeared in six total. His rating was 77.0 with 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions thrown. He became the full-time starter in 1979, with a first year record of 7-9. He would finish 54-56 with the Vikings, 159/158 TD/INT, and 2-3 in the playoffs. Kramer ended up being known for off the field exploits more than his efforts on the field.

Fran Tarkenton was chosen in the third round with the 29th pick in 1961. He, like Ponder, was asked to take over early in the season. Tarkenton would go 2-8 in his first season with a rating of 74.7 (not very good). Fran would not have a winning season until 1964. But ultimately he would have the greatest career by a Viking quarterback, and rivals the greatest of all-time. Tarkenton would finish 124-109-6, with two lengthy stints in Minnesota in a long career.

There were many other quarterbacks chosen over the years. The Vikings, while not known for taking quarterbacks early, did manage to chose a few that were surprising. The 1981 drafting of Wade Wilson with the 210th pick in the draft comes to mind. Wilson was 27-21 while with the Vikings. 1985's Steve Bono (chosen 142nd) was a bust in Minnesota, but he went on to a Pro Bowl visit with the Chiefs. Brad Johnson (1992 chosen 227th) would finish 72-53 with a Super Bowl win with Tampa Bay.

Others were less fruitful. Steve Dils (1979-97th) would start only fiifteen games, finishing 6-9. Names like Thigpen, Booty, Pease, and others forgetten. Bigger busts like Tarvaris Jackson (64th pick and 10-9) trying to be forgotten.

And now Christian Ponder.

If the past means anything, Ponder might benefit from a season of struggles like Tarkenton. This team has far more talent than the 1961 fledgling Vikings, but the records are eerily similar. Tarkenton's two wins in his rookie year may be in jeopardy for most by a Minnesota rookie quarterback. But no one is expecting too much in Ponder's first game at Green Bay.

Given the weakness of the present offensive line, Ponder may end up scrambling more than you-know-who.

No, not Cam Newton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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