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Redskins know secrets of Williams' success

For the second time in as many seasons since he was fired, Gregg Williams will return to FedEx Field to face the Redskins.

Washington's assistant head coach-defense for four seasons, Williams first returned in the 2008 preseason while serving as the Jacksonville Jaguars' defensive coordinator. This time, he's back with the 11-0 New Orleans Saints.

Williams is the architect of the Saints' major turnaround on defense, which has helped the NFC South leaders become arguably the NFL's best team.

Maintaining the same aggressive approach he took with the Redskins, Williams has transformed the Saints' defense, which last season ranked 23rd in the league in yards and tied for 26th in points, into an attacking group that leads the league with 22 interceptions and is tied for 10th with 26 sacks. Although New Orleans is giving up about the same average yardage per game it did last season, it has reduced its points average from 24.6 to 20.1.

On Monday night, the Saints routed the New England Patriots, 38-17. New Orleans twice intercepted Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who failed to throw a least one touchdown pass for only the second time this season.

"You knew Gregg would get those boys going, 'cause that's what he does," cornerback Fred Smoot said recently. "You know Gregg is going to get after it. A lot of times, he'd just leave me and Shawn [Springs] out there in that hard-knock 'zero' [all-out blitz, no safety help] and just tell us to get it done. And you know you better."

With quarterback Drew Brees leading the league's top-ranked offense, the Saints appear poised to make a long playoff run. Not surprisingly, there's buzz that Williams, who led Washington's defense to three top-10 finishes in four seasons, will be on short lists for head-coaching vacancies at season's end. Williams went 17-31 as the Buffalo Bills' head coach and was fired after a 6-10 season in 2003.

Many Redskins defensive and offensive had hoped Williams would succeed Joe Gibbs, who stepped down after the 2007 season. But owner Daniel Snyder determined Williams would have wanted too much control, league sources said, and Snyder eventually hired Jim Zorn as offensive coordinator and then quickly promoted him to the team's top coaching position.

Zorn, formerly the Seattle Seahawks' quarterbacks coach, had never been a coordinator in the NFL. After a surprising 6-2 start last season, the Redskins in their last 19 games are 5-14.

Earlier this season, Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, stripped him of play-calling duties, though Zorn has said he still calls some plays. Zorn is not expected to return next season.

"He'll probably want to get us a little bit more considering everything that transpired a couple years ago with him," said middle linebacker London Fletcher, who also played under Williams in Buffalo. "But at the end of the day, we know he's going to bring his exotic blitzes, his pressure package. But a lot of teams bring exotic blitz packages. So it's something that the offense has to be prepared for."

Williams strives for perfection and pushes players to excel. "He would take you off the field and show you what he meant," defensive tackle Kedric Golston said. "He wanted you to understand the game for you to be a better player. He's an established coach in this league, and he wanted his players to be the best. I just accepted the fact that he's my boss.

"I work for him. And I need to do what he tells me to do. However he tells me to do that, he can communicate any kind of way he wants to. It's just up to me to figure out what he wants me to do and do it. At the end of the day, Gregg Williams cared just like our staff does here. I learned a lot from him, and I had fun playing for him."

Williams still has strong ties to some within the organization, and some of his former Redskins players said they would not be surprised if he became a head coach again soon.

"I got like an old-school feeling from him," versatile defensive lineman Lorenzo Alexander said. "He really was very fair, as far as top to bottom, in how he treated people. He didn't care how much money you made, he went at everybody the same way.

"He was real adamant about running to the ball, holding people accountable and getting after people, too. He's a very passionate coach. And obviously, he's proven he's a very good coach."

By Jason Reid and Barry Svrluga  |  December 1, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
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Next: Cooley: Playcalling is 'a carousel of calls'



"That is part of the major problem here good teams play rookies out of the box and let them learn."

The constant 're-doing' of contracts is why that happens here.

That plus coaches fearing youth.

Over the past couple of seasons, the skins' FO celebrated re-doing some guy's contract in order to get cap space to sign someone who later failed or underwhelmed.

And while that guy underperformed, a rookie sat on the bench and was denied playing time.

The sad thing is that one of the team's most valuable and under utilized players--Ladell Betts--might not be a redskin as age and injury suggest he might be done.

And the guy never got extended time to shine.

Posted by: MistaMoe | December 1, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

"this team has more character then we gave them credit for" the dude on NFL network

"JC is offensive MVP, by far. Would be the team MVP if not for Fletch and Carter." me

Posted by: pabrian2003 | December 1, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I would say Fletcher sort of shuts up those that don't think Grilliams will be extra motivated this week...

Also listening to these quotes shows me, again, why he should have been given a chance to lead this team.

Also Griliams wasn't going to be Vinny/Snyder's fair haired boy....Zorn was. That's it in a nutshell. Nuff said.

Posted by: chrislarry | December 1, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse


"Neither of those teams will beat Texas."

So if Haden or Arenas take away Shipley (a guy who'd be third string at UF), who does McCoy throw to?

I'll await your response while watching video of the gators pimp smackin' the buckeyes and sooners over the past couple of years.

Posted by: MistaMoe | December 1, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I think that was proven more so last year. When Florida's Defense held the highest scoring offense in NCAA history to 14 pts.

Whether its Alabama or Florida, look for a similar outcome.

Defense wins Championships.

Posted by: gatorskinz2000 | December 1, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I still don't get the "extra-motivated" talk....doesn't ring true with me...this isn't 8th grade....GWill is in a much better place, and should be thankful he didn't get the job here...

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | December 1, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

MistaMoe, you funny--but also right again today.

The principal reason that Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly and Fred Davis took a season and a half to begin to produce was that Zorn was afraid to use them. It shocks me that Zorn is conservative as he is. When he was playing I always thought he was a footbal "fighter jock" but that certainly has not been the case during his tenure here. By the time they had reached 6-2 last year they had become extremely conservative both on offense and defense. No gamble in him whatsoever and it shows. Did you notice how many times they ran on 1st down against the Eagles?

I just don't think that you can blame personnel and then turn conservative and have a shot at winning anything in this league.

Posted by: rgj21 | December 1, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | December 1, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

god damn it!!!!!!

Posted by: BrooklynSkins | December 1, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

"this team has more character then we gave them credit for" the dude on NFL network

"JC is offensive MVP, by far. Would be the team MVP if not for Fletch and Carter." me

Posted by: pabrian2003

Derrick Dockery. You never see him get abused at the line of scrimmage like every other starter (all nine of 'em) did, and I'm trying here but I can only think of one time he's been called for a penalty.

Posted by: RedDMV | December 1, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

we could have greg williams coaching right now and with more control - ds
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Posted by: BrooklynSkins | December 1, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

This defense definately doesn't have the same swagger it used to. eFing Snyder! If a HOF coach hand picks his replacement, listen to him and don't think you know everything.

Posted by: dcwun | December 1, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know where can we find a good proven coach, knows organization and players, respected, wants to keep owner in his box, knows how to motivate, already been through a learning experience in NFL, was recommended by a Hall of Fame coach, and was available 2 years ago? Hmmmm.... Now that's bad for business so fire Mr. Snyder!

Posted by: banks1214 | December 1, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"When he was playing I always thought he was a footbal "fighter jock" but that certainly has not been the case during his tenure here."

Posted by: rgj21 | December 1, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I would say that's because Jim Zorn is a better quarterback than he is a coach. Quarterbacks play that position because they want total control over what happens on the field. Jim Zorn can call the play, but he can't throw the ball. He calls plays that he thinks JC17 can convert, not ones that he would throw if he were behind center.

Posted by: Keiser | December 1, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

"Come back, Greggg! Come back! Can't you just come coach the Redskins next year, and pretend like the last two years never happened? Come on! It'll be like those lost years on Dallas, when Bobby Ewing was in the shower, and Pam realized the last two years were all just a bad dream. After you win your Super Bowl with the Saints, promise me that I will be your first cell phone call, ok? Greggg? Greggg?"

Posted by: jaypem | December 1, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

I can't be the only one who hopes Grilliams gets his revenge this weekend and makes the redskins offense look foolish, not that it would be hard to do.

Then again, maybe the fact that his team is now a serious superbowl contender, (something that was never the case in Washington), is revenge enough itself.

Posted by: jbanks979 | December 2, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

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