Are We Witnessing the End of the Williams Wall?

The Williams Wall as we have always known it may be on the verge of getting dismantled.

For five years now, Pat and Kevin Williams aka the Williams Wall have combined to make the interior of the Vikings‘ defensive line the most impenetrable in the entire league.  However, for the second straight season, Pat has broken down heading into the playoffs, leaving the Vikings scrambling to fill the considerable literal and figurative hole left by his absence.

Last year, a broken shoulder sidelined Pat for the final two games of the regular season, and for the team’s home playoff loss to the Eagles.  This year, it’s Pat’s elbow and not his shoulder that is causing the problem.  He was inactive for Monday night’s loss to the Bears, and may sit out the season finale against the Giants.

The Vikings were able to fill in last week with Jimmy Kennedy, who has done an able job this season when given the chance to rotate in.  However, Kennedy is also hurt himself, and likely will not be able to go against the Giants.

This forces the Vikings to turn to Fred Evans, the man who took Pat’s place when he was lost at the end of the 2008 season.  Evans has dropped on the depth chart in ’09, thanks to Kennedy’s emergence, and been inactive several times this season.  Letroy Guion would also likely see playing time if Pat and Jimmy are indeed unable to suit up.

Obviously, for the Vikings, the only concern right now is how to get through the final game and the postseason.  Eventually, however, they will have to address the nose tackle issue long-term.

That may mean a diminished role for Pat Williams, one of the defining defensive players of recent Vikings history.

Williams is 37 now, and will turn 38 midway through the 2010 season, which happens to be the last year of his contract.  Williams has already begun speculating on the end of his career, saying if the Vikings win the Super Bowl, he will gladly retire.  Whatever happens, it seems almost certain that Williams will not play beyond next season.

Given the way Pat’s last two seasons have ended, the Vikings may not feel confident counting on him going into 2010.

The signing of Jimmy Kennedy, a high draft pick in 2003 who never lived up to his potential, was the Vikings’ way of covering themselves in the event that Pat and Kevin were forced to serve their suspensions for violating the banned substance policy.  That suspension never materialized, but Kennedy may still serve as the Vikings’ best insurance policy at defensive tackle.

Kennedy is 30 years old, and though he is nowhere near as dominating as Pat can still be when healthy and well-rested, he has been a solid contributor, and may have a whole late-blossoming career ahead of him.  He certainly has the talent to be a good player, and with Kevin Williams garnering so much attention alongside him, should have opportunities to make things happen.

Kennedy has already seen plenty of playing-time in 2009.  If Pat does return for 2010, the Vikings may elect to decrease his role even more, in hopes of having him healthy for the late season, which would mean an increased role for Kennedy.  And if Pat does for some reason elect to call it a career after this season, Kennedy could step in as the full-time starter.

There is no guarantee of course that Kennedy would be the answer.  The Vikings could go defensive tackle in the draft, or they could sign a free agent.  Or perhaps someone else, Evans or Guion maybe, would emerge as Pat’s heir apparent.

The point is, the way things are going, it looks like the Williams Wall as we’ve come to know and love it will never be the same again.  When the wall finally does come down, it will be the end of a memorable era in Vikings football.

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Tags: Fred Evans Jimmy Kennedy Kevin Williams Letroy Guion Minnesota Vikings Pat Williams

  • joe

    All periods in NFL come to an end – but I agree with your point and sentiments. Personally, I was even more sad to see the “purple people eaters” reign of terror come to an end.

    They should have been able to go out with a bang – the team has the best quarterback possible for their offense. He knows it better than chilly or anyone else because he has played and thrived in it for 19 years.

    Yet chilly would rather pretend to be the bigshot and take the ball out of his hands. Unfortunately, the posts here also tend to proclaim that somehow a back that cannot hold on to or catch the ball is somehow more important.

    This notion that Brett was just gonna give the ball to AD was garbage from the start. We have seen it doesn’t work that way.

    The end of the Williams Wall will be more sad than the end of the Purple People Eaters. At least they have 4 shots at Super Bowl titles.

    Atleast management and fans understood the role of the quarterback – they had some great ones, Kapp and Tarkington.

    This team now has one, but chilly and homers are so hung up with an imaginary “power running game” that they may lose second seed (should have had first seed) and I would not be surprised to see them loose the first round they play.

    And they will lose that round if the “give the ball to AD” crowd successfully undermines the offense by giving us more of what we saw against bengals, panthers, and first-half bears.

    It is clear what player contributed the most to this team, but some would rather save face than win championships.

  • 3rdStoneFromTheSun

    wonder if they return after Brett tosses away a playoff game?

  • joe

    More likely peterson drops the ball in key situations – but you moron homers think that fumbles and dropped passes good and that a near career-year by a sure Hall of Fame quarterback is bad.

    LA is gonna look great in purple and you losers will get what you deserve.

  • Mike

    The Vikings will win the Super Bowl only if they learn from their past losses. Joe has been unable to accurately explain why the Vikings lost to the Cards and Panthers. Joe now claims their problem against the Panthers was that they gave the ball to AD. Actually the Vikings were leading 7-6 at halftime and then proceeded to allow Favre to take the ball and run AD only 3 carries. Joe has also brushed off my explanation: the Vikings need to disguise plays (like they did against the Bears) and take whatever the D gives them (like they did in the second half against the Bears)!

  • joe

    Mike – you yourself say you have no evidence for your theory.

    As long as AD can’t hold the ball/catch the ball, his presence tips the defense on what will happen. Even play fakes too him don’t work cuz he isn’t a legitimate threat to catch the ball anyhow.

    You just rationalize chillyball and worship a back that isn’t as good as you homers proclaim with a nonsense argument (with no justification) that they should disguise their plays.

    Maybe if they all wore those funny noses and glasses and “secret agent man” trench coats, they would finally have that “power running game” that they don’t have now.

    But you don’t get it – this isn’t a power running team and it has nothing to do with whether it is disguised enough.

    As long as you have a one-dimensional back and insist on giving him the ball, you can’t disguise what you will do.

  • Mike

    Joe, we have been thoroughly through my theory. If you want to offer something constructive, please accurately explain why the Vikings lost to the Cards and Panthers, so the Vikings can learn from their past loses and win the super bowl.