Last year, when NFL observers would bet anything that “Bountygate” ruined the career of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, he took his one-year suspension in stride and just let the suckers talk.
For all of the negative attention that the bounty scandal received, especially after an audio tape was released with Williams telling the team “kill the head and the body will die,” it never fazed the ones initiated into the NFL circle.
Something isn’t quite right with Williams. Remember he didn’t just want Frank Gore running sideways, he also wanted his head sideways. The man seems borderline crazy, and that’s exactly why the Tennessee Titans knew they had to have him back.
Williams is now doing his second tour with the franchise. The last time he was with the Titans they had the No. 1 defense in the league and were fresh off a Super Bowl appearance.
Back then, Tennessee’s squad was absolutely fearless, just as every other has been with Williams coaching them up on defense. Jeff Fisher knew what he was getting when he hired Williams as defensive coordinator of the Rams last year before the suspension kicked in.
In February, the Titans were a long way from that dominant presence of 13 years ago. They were a pedestrian defensive unit in 2012. Williams was brought in to change the culture and attitude, the same way he did in the season New Orleans won the Super Bowl.
That’s when Sean Payton restructured his own contract by a quarter million dollars just to put Williams on.
The Titans are basically working with two figures in a lead position, with Williams as senior assistant to defensive coordinator Jerry Gray. The players notice how both coaches have asserted themselves, only in different ways.
Gray is more of the stick-to-the-game-plan, cool customer type. Williams still wants guys running sideways and he isn’t apologizing for it.
From Titans beat writer Jim Wyatt:
"Never, ever apologize for competing. We want to be as attacking as we can on defense. And we want to be able to set the tone against who we play against," Williams said. "We attack, but we have to give the players the say. … There are a lot of coaches in the National Football League that are afraid to give players say. I'm proud to give players say."
Right or wrong, there’s value in a defensive coach who wants to dictate what the offense does and stays proactive rather than reactive. There’s value in a guy who encourages his players to be as violent as the competition lines allow.
The NFL looked at Gregg Williams and saw a serious problem. The Titans looked at him and saw a solution.