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The secret of Gregg Williams's success

Les Carpenter caught up with Gregg Williams and the Saints' defense last week in New Orleans.

The Saints have been so close the past few years, with what might be the most gifted and imaginative offense in the NFL. There has always been a sense that if the Saints could just get a defense that was slightly better than average, they could go to the Super Bowl. Then came Williams, and the defense has gone from 23rd in the NFL in yards allowed to ninth. Now 5-0, the Saints are perhaps the best team in the NFC.
The defense is working because Williams's gibes, attacks and rants almost always seem to work. As a coach, he has mastered that perfect balance of devising brilliant schemes while touching the precise nerves that fuel a frenzy in football players.
"Attitude -- that's 90 percent what he's brought," defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis said. "Attitude. Attitude. Attitude."

By Cindy Boren  |  October 25, 2009; 11:30 AM ET
 
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Next: So far, so good on play-calling relays

Comments

FIRST to say "Mister" Snyder blew it when hiring Gibbs' successor. I guess "Mister" Snyder just blows.

Posted by: 0121 | October 25, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Apparently the Post is a Saints newspaper now?

Anything they can do to paint the Skins organization in a negative light.

So much for unbiased journalism.

Posted by: Rypien11 | October 25, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Uh...excuse me Jason...can you search the Post archives for the articles where you and your boy LaCanfora proceed to tear Gregg Williams a new one with your "unanamed sources" and how "arrogant" Gregg Willima was...

See this is my point....when you win, you're a genius...when you lose...you're an idiot.

Posted by: rickyroge | October 25, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Rypien11,

I don't think that, but the Saints are 5-0 and the Redskins are 2-4. I think with Williams as headcoach, Blache as D.C., and Zorn as O.C. we would've been much better off. Not 5-0 but obviously better than 2-4.

Gibbs built a team around his successor, and DS threw it away. plain and simple. Its hard to praise Gibbs then trash what he built. We did go to the playoffs twice under Gibbs team and Williams defense. Hard to argue with success.

Posted by: dannythe357 | October 25, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

who didn't think Zorn was in over his head? He had never been an OC much less HC. To hire someone like that and not allow them the years it takes to grow into the position is another example of the desperate and rather naive approach of DS and VC. Again, I ask, Which HC would want to come here with these two idiots in charge? My answer is the same sort that would come first for the MONEY. So many FA's have and look what that buys, a group of over paid underachieving millionaires that couldn't care less.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | October 25, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Before everybody gets too crazy with adulation for GG and for what might have been....

Let's not forget he was a HUGE disappointment in Jacksonville last year... Was fired as I recall.

Posted by: carocanesfan | October 25, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

And has head coach, didn't do much in Buffalo, as I recall either....

Or am I missing something (or remembering something wrong)....

Posted by: carocanesfan | October 25, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Andy Reid was a QB coach for the Packers and he was hired to become a Head Coach for the Eagles. That worked out great for them.

I think Snyder was trying to do the same.

Posted by: Vicc | October 25, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

great players make coaches look good more often than the other way around. can only do so much with poor talent.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | October 25, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

carocanesfan,

Great Points.

I remember Grilliams getting fired by Jax.

It's kinda easy to be the defensive coordinator of a team whose offense is capable of scoring 30 a game.

It's the Phil Jackson effect. It's kinda easy to win championships when you have two HOFamers on your teams. Yet he finally did it with just one. It took him long enough.

Posted by: Vicc | October 25, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

To be more precise, GG was under a one year contract with the Jags last year. He was not brought back because it "didn't work out". Which is kinda like getting fired....

Posted by: carocanesfan | October 25, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

why do they always have to go after "big name" coaches? was Joe Gibbs, Bill Parcells or Bill Walsh big time head coaches when they first got hired by the Skins, the Giants or the 49ers respectively??

the answer is NO. was Mike Smith a big name coach before he got hired by the Falcons?? there are PLENTY of good potential NFL headcoaches out there. if they do their homework, they will find one. Just going after big name coaches is just a LAZY way to go about things.

Posted by: joek443 | October 25, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Grilliams' D works best with a prolific offense, which they have in NO.

Here, it didn't work so well. Yes, they could get good D stats, but they couldn't control games w/ that D. And that's what this offense would need.

I also don't like his (and his predecessor here) inability or unwillingness to shift his scheming for the talent.

Posted by: DikShuttle | October 25, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

and the only reason they hired Zorn was becasue nobody else wanted that job.

Posted by: joek443 | October 25, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

ptf had this word about our situation Snyder opted not to give Zorn a vote of confidence . So may be he still goes next week

Posted by: joevick | October 25, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

JK,

Just more evidence that the FO has NO IDEA what they are doing in building a winning team.

...they know how to squeeze a dollar outta ya, but not give ya anything back besides pablum.

Posted by: DikShuttle | October 25, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

ANd by saying these things I'm NOT making a judgement about whether we'd be better off or not if he had become head coach. I have no idea....

But I do remember him getting in pissing contests with players (mine's bigger than your's) and keeping players off the field even if they could help the team (Lavar comes to mind, in his first year here).

Posted by: carocanesfan | October 25, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Hey Kiddz,

I've got my tix for tomorrow nite. But I actually have never been to a game here at FedEx.

I'm thinking of bringing the 'noname' bag hats. And possibly a Philadelphian/English translating dictionary so I can understand the gutteral grunts. I plan on ending every exchange w/ "Say hello to ya muddah fo meh".

But what's the BEST WAY to get to a monday nite game? [and DON'T say 'Practice' ..daumpbump.] I am in dire need of advice here, folks.

thank you very much!!

Posted by: DikShuttle | October 25, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"See this is my point....when you win, you're a genius...when you lose...you're an idiot.Posted by: rickyroge"

Right -- there's even a technical name for it: 'survivor's [winner's] bias'. In sports. it would be where observers inflate the achievements of the 'winning' team, player, or coach to imaginary levels of skill, strength, or expertise, while simultaneously deflating those of the 'loser'. In other words, as a result of its very narrow victory in the Super Bowl, the Steelers find themselves held up as an example of how to do things 'right', diminishing the achievements of other teams that may in some dimension actually surpass Pittsburgh.

If the Steelers' did it, it must have been the correct thing to do, while if the 'loser' Skins did it, it must have been wrong.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 25, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Zorn's hiring and elevation to HC wasn't Daniel's only radical move. First there was the firing of Greg Williams and Al Saunders. I suppose Snyder had already determined he wanted neither at the top -- not big enough names, or maybe he didn't like the way the team had played before the Streak -- or maybe he just had his heart set elsewhere.

Blache, who'd been a coordinator in Chicago, was ready, but Zorn couldn't handle that two pay grade jump.

It was a Danny gamble, the sort bigtime CEO's take in business, mostly impulse, that eventually get them fired. Of course, on Wall Street the parachutes are so generous you do better fired than hired.

Nonetheless, letting Grilliams and Saunders go right after Gibbs really set the team back. That wasn't Mike Shanahan that Dan set in their place. It was a smart, talented, likable if vaguely goofy QB coach with zero experience in the Big Chair. Took us seven or eight games to feel the effect the next season, but feel it we did -- and we're still feeling it.

At least some sense of order has been restored in the wake of the decision to play the season out. Dan can now search in peace for the next victim, I mean candidate. Who knows, maybe the team will go on a bit of a streak. Stranger things have happened.

Despite what the fanz and media think, the difference between a win and a loss in most NFL games is two or three plays.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 25, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

When Frank Caliendo is doing bits on the Redskins..... nevermind, it's just soooo low being a Redskins fan... I was wearing a Redskins T-shirt at my son's football game yesterday and I have never received so much attention. Is this what Snyder envisioned when he bought this team? I doubt it.

CLEGG

Posted by: michael_b_clegg | October 25, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

PIT-MIN about to start here.

Posted by: jiacinto | October 25, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Dik,

I would take the Metro. Take the blue line to the Morgan Blvd. station and walk to the stadium. It's about 0.9 miles, not bad. I was in the DC area for a conference a few weeks back and went to the Tampa Bay game, getting there via Metro.

Posted by: freakzilla | October 25, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Dik,

I would take the Metro. Take the blue line to the Morgan Blvd. station and walk to the stadium. It's about 0.9 miles, not bad. I was in the DC area for a conference a few weeks back and went to the Tampa Bay game, getting there via Metro.

Where are you coming from? If you're coming from Virginia (as I did), you'll want to change trains from the orange line to the blue line at Rosslyn when headed to the game. Getting back to VA might be one step easier, though. When we were heading home after the game, they had a special orange line train running from Morgan Blvd. to Vienna.

If you take paper bags to the game, security might confiscate them at the gate. They were doing that at the Tampa game, and given the high profile of a Monday night game and all that's happened in the past few weeks, I'm betting Snyder's dictating a zero tolerance policy to FedEx staff.

Posted by: freakzilla | October 25, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

To be more precise, GG was under a one year contract with the Jags last year. He was not brought back because it "didn't work out". Which is kinda like getting fired....

Posted by: carocanesfan | October 25, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Jack Del Rio meddled alot in Gregg William's defense. Those two really clashed personality wise, that's the main reason GW didn't work out in Jacksonville. As for him not being successful at Buffalo, he very well may have been successfull in Washington. He basically was Joe Gibb's understudy for four years. This team was built that way and then our twin idiots in the front office threw all of that away and decided to go with a west coast offense.

Posted by: RedskinJim1 | October 25, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Accidentally posted that first post before I was done.

Touchy touch pad.

Posted by: freakzilla | October 25, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Yep, that's what the paper is saying, too.

Thanks Zilla!

Posted by: DikShuttle | October 25, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Riggins: Redskins organization has been taken hostage by a child
By MJD

I apologize, Redskins fans. I'm really not trying to pile on your team here, but the shots at owner Dan Snyder just keep coming, and they're landing too squarely to ignore. This time, it's John Riggins's turn, and he's going for the jugular.

"This is almost a hostage situation. This franchise has been taken hostage by someone who has the mindset of a child. Because everything revolves around them, and it's going to be difficult until that mental adjustment is made; that adjustment in personality. But that's going to be a lot of sessions on the couch with somebody."

If you missed some of the earlier festivities from Kick Daniel Snyder Where It Hurts Week, check out these comments from John Kent Cooke, and these from Steve Largent. The last 48 hours have had to be pretty tough for Dan Snyder.

One odd little thing about the situation in Washington is that Jim Zorn's become almost sort of a martyr now. If Snyder had fired him two weeks ago, public sentiment would've been, "Good, that guy's a loser. Wait until the off-season when we get some big name coach in here!"

But by waiting, and then bringing in Sherm Lewis to take away his playcalling duties (or, as Riggo describes the process, "castrating Zorn, one teste at a time"), Snyder's turned Zorn into a sympathetic figure. Over the last week or so, it really feels like the hatred has shifted significantly from Zorn to Snyder.

Riggo did it in his radio spot, and Largent and the host of he show in Seattle did it yesterday: The feeling for Zorn right now is sympathy. The feeling for Snyder seems to be universal, intense contempt.

Gracias, The Huddle.

Related: Washington Redskins

Posted by: RedskinJim1 | October 25, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

The Saints had just as prolific an offense last year (5,069 yards passing, 34 touchdowns, isn't exactly something to sniff at), and their defense was a shambling disaster.

So to say Williams is succeeding there only because the offense is off the charts seems to ignore their experience last season altogether.

His record in Buffalo suggests he's a better coordinator than a head coach (which you say about tons of coaches in the league right now), but he's still about 10 times more qualified than Zorn was to be a head coach last year.

Posted by: blackjack65 | October 25, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Dan has contracts with all of the former coaches including Gregg Williams to prevent him from telling you what he really thinks. But Williams thinks that Dan and Vinny are a couple of tools.

Players like Mike Williams, Chad Rinehart, Williams from Maryland, the center, Stephan Heyer and the rest of the offesive linemen could memorize every motivational speech ever given and could have the best attitude in history but they cannot play the game. Without blocking Jason Campbell and Clinton Portis cannot do anything. The offensive line stinks and the team stinks. All of this is brought to you by Vinny. Including his cousin Chad Rinehart.

Posted by: HelloNewman1 | October 25, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

looks like 1/3 of the 1st round is expected to be QB's and OT's, with as many as 5 or 6 QB's going. Bodes well for the Skins.

Posted by: chasgiffen | October 25, 2009 3:33 AM

This means we will pick the best LB in the draft!

Posted by: League-Source
____________________________

Actually I did see several mocks predicting Skins would pick an LB (Spikes), a WR, or Tebow... all sent shivers up my spine.

Posted by: chasgiffen | October 25, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Dan has contracts with all of the former coaches including Gregg Williams to prevent him from telling you what he really thinks.

Posted by: HelloNewman1
___________________________

Yep - the standard Redskins coaching contract is probably 17 pages long, with the first 16 handling non-disparagement.

Posted by: chasgiffen | October 25, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The Saints had just as prolific an offense last year (5,069 yards passing, 34 touchdowns, isn't exactly something to sniff at), and their defense was a shambling disaster.

So to say Williams is succeeding there only because the offense is off the charts seems to ignore their experience last season altogether.

His record in Buffalo suggests he's a better coordinator than a head coach (which you say about tons of coaches in the league right now), but he's still about 10 times more qualified than Zorn was to be a head coach last year.

Posted by: blackjack65
_________________________

Agree on all this. GW is the real deal, at least on D. (Plus I'd much rather have an attacking, pressure D than wait & react). So what that he got fired by JAX, as pointed out that was probably a clash of personality or D strategy with Del Rio, and he's nothing special. Plus regarding Grilliams' previous HC stint at Buffalo, who would think he hasn't matured and gotten better in many ways after 4 years under Gibbs and after what happened with ST21? When it comes to rolling the dice, which almost any hire would be, he'd have been a far, far better choice than Zorn. And that's nothing against Zorny.

Posted by: chasgiffen | October 25, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

to vicc
andy reid was an offensive line coach, offensive assistant, then assistant head coach before he became the head coach.

Posted by: jmy999 | October 25, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Hope Grimm is one of the candidates we consider at season's end. There's probably 1 or 2 others I'd prefer for HC, but at least we'd KNOW we'd have real, NFL caliber O-line by next season opener.

Posted by: chasgiffen | October 25, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Blackjack, your logic totally doesn't follow, but that's besides the point.

And you're absolutely right about DoubleG being supremely qualified over Zoron The Moron.

Posted by: DikShuttle | October 25, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

...at least we'd KNOW we'd have real, NFL caliber O-line by next season opener...

And therefore at least a snowball's chance in Hades of making the playoffs.

Which we didn't have this year.

Which Vinny Cerrato either [1] didn't know or [2] he willfully misrepresented to his boss. (And that, as Frank Zappa would say, is the crux of the biscuit.)

Either of which get most people fired in any industry, if they're in any type of executive or general management position.

Posted by: chasgiffen | October 25, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Why is everyone making such a big deal out of the Sherm Lewis hiring? I don't recall, but was there the same reaction when Gibbs came back? Will there be the same reaction if Jimmy Johnson comes back?

Posted by: vegasskinsfan | October 25, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Which Vinny Cerrato either [1] didn't know or [2] he willfully misrepresented to his boss.

Posted by: chasgiffen | October 25, 2009 2:19 PM

That's all? I think there's at least one more possibility. Dan said "I want Haynesworth." Vinny said "If we get him, we won't be able to upgrade the O line and we'll be taking a big risk." Dan said "I want Haynesworth. Make it happen." Same thing happened again when Orakpo's name came up.

Posted by: League-Source | October 25, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

This sunday feels weird... I finally get two see two GOOD football games..... It feels like this is the first time ive seen football all season.....

Posted by: cocodc1 | October 25, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

beep beep

Posted by: chasgiffen | October 25, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Did i just read someone suggesting we draft Tim Tebow,no way man that guy's creepy just like his coach(Coach Creepy!) but seriously Tebow is destined to pastor a huge mega-church and collect more from tithe's than Joel Osteen(he's a very succesfull pastor) who's got more money than Synder(just kidding)but close.How's that Burgundy&Gold protest going how many no show's tommorow at Fed Ex on MNF should be interesting(i mean the no shows,not the game) Greg Williams didn't have a shot here in DC not with Vinny in the Danny's ear and other places on Synder's anatomy Williams is on his way to the Nfc champioship game while Vinny and The Danny are on their way to............... yeah you can fill in the blank.

Posted by: dargregmag | October 25, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Grilliams' D works best with a prolific offense, which they have in NO.

Here, it didn't work so well. Yes, they could get good D stats, but they couldn't control games w/ that D. And that's what this offense would need.

I also don't like his (and his predecessor here) inability or unwillingness to shift his scheming for the talent.

Posted by: DikShuttle | October 25, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

He built a great D in Buffalo and they never had a prolific Offense. With maybe last year as an exception, he always improves his team's Defense.

Posted by: saqster | October 25, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Uh...excuse me Jason...can you search the Post archives for the articles where you and your boy LaCanfora proceed to tear Gregg Williams a new one with your "unanamed sources" and how "arrogant" Gregg Willima was...

See this is my point....when you win, you're a genius...when you lose...you're an idiot.

Posted by: rickyroge

I agree that article was 3 pgs long and tarnished his rep, it was G.Williams tough love that turned S.Taylor's (RIP) career around, or have we all forgot?

Posted by: Istudydrugs | October 25, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Russ Grimm isn't going to be the head coach here unless a real GM hires him. Grimm has enough connections here as a former player to know what Snyder's really like. He'll stay away.

Posted by: lordtwang | October 26, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

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