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Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams Looks Back and Forward

    **New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams**           
    **(on the game Friday night)**        

"It was good to see us take the ball away, and when I say take the ball away, they were all created takeaways, they weren't give-me takeaways. They were things where we had to knock the ball out and had to be conscious of where the ball was. We did the same thing of where we had the quarterback have to reset and go to a third receiver and now he's behind time and throws the ball and Jonathan (Vilma) steps in front. Those things were created takeaways. We need to see those. Those were good but I can't believe we didn't score. I can't believe we didn't score. I wasn't real pleased with that and these guys know that. We have to finish those things; we work too hard on that. Our offense is dynamic and there's no sense in anybody blaming our offense on that stuff; we had the ball out and we have to put it in the end zone in those situations. It was good to see our young guys – guys that you don't know about and I don't know a whole lot about – play pretty solid in the second half. I thought they did a real good job on how we wanted to play in the run front, how we wanted to knock linemen back in run fits and decent in the passing game. In the second half, they were real solid.

"As far as setting the depth charts, I say again that they're not set. It doesn't make any difference how many people think that Malcolm Jenkins is going to be third-team. Those guys that played at the end – some of those guys really played well at the end and they're going to start working their way up and play. Until we go into Detroit, there won't be any depths set; we're going to play a lot of different combinations. We do that in practice every day and we do that through the games; we'll mix that stuff up.

"The things I thought we had to improve on is that we had three explosive passes. All three very correctable and one of them was a tremendous teachable moment. They threw a five-yard hitch to a wide receiver – (Chad) Ochocinco – we miss a tackle and we had two defensive linemen run a wide receiver down. If you don't think that's special, you're missing something big. That's special. Charles Grant pushed the guy out of bounds. Unfortunately, they didn't get the feed to see that the guy steps out of bounds. Unfortunately that just happens in a ballgame. Anthony Hargrove was stride for stride. I joked with our guys after the ballgame that if I was Ochocinco, I'd think that maybe I lost a step when you have defensive linemen running you down down the field in the wide-open field. Roman (Harper) did a real good job too. I thought that was a culture-change-of-attitude moment for this group of guys when you have guys doing that. We don't like those explosive passes, but to do that right there, that was big time.

"Our tackling has to improve every week. As much as we'd like to tackle in practice, we can't do that. We know that in pro football we can't do that; we wouldn't have guys healthy to play in games if we tackled live. I don't care if you're a Hall of Fame football player, if you're a Pro Bowl football player, the first time you tackle live there is a lot of rust that has to get knocked off. We tackled pretty decently for an early preseason game, but not near good enough to be the way we want to play on defense. That has to improve and then our situational awareness has to improve. That touchdown at the end of the half made me gag and I had a hard time sleeping. I'm a bad coach if we can't understand that situation after a timeout. Yes, there have been a lot of eyes opened in the meetings because when I go into meetings and I talk to grown men about things that should be obvious – it obviously wasn't obvious. That was not a very good thing to have happen at the end of a half – bad coaching, bad playing, ignorant. And they understand that.

"I thought there were many, many, many great teachable moments in the ballgame. As well as Sean has our practices scripted – I think he covers everything; it's so much fun because we're doing things that are applicable to the game. As much as we plan as coaches, we can't teach live game situations in practice – they just don't come up at game speed. We had so many things come up that were great teachable moments and I couldn't wait to have our guys in a room with that starry-eyed look, all these grown men saying, 'Coach, help me. Help me learn how to do that.' That's the fun part of what we do. I have a real good staff here, but until we went to the game I didn't know how they were going to react. There were some really good things, obviously things we have to improve on, and it's going to be that way throughout the whole preseason. This week we're going to get a whole new set of circumstances that are going to come up. We'll be playing an AFC South team and I'm pretty familiar with them after being in the division last year with them. I think (Gary Kubiak) does a great job; what they do offensively is very potent and there will be some great teachable moments for these guys this week too.

"Short story – we have a long ways to go but I saw some really, really good things in the ball game."

When you go into this week of practice with the Texans this week, will you establish some type of tempo to make sure that everybody is on the same page?

"I couldn't care less if they're on the same page, quite honestly. They're going to have to catch up to us. We're going to practice our way. There won't be any referees out there and we'll play them in the parking lot if they want to play in the parking lot. We're going to go over there and play. They'd better be ready because we'll be ready."

So you don't set something up the night before?

"No. Sean may, but I'm not. I know all of those guys and they know me too. I'm sure they're ready to roll."

If one team plays one way and the other isn't matching that, can you benefit from that?

"I don't care how they play. All I care about is how we play. I learned that from Buddy (Ryan). There was a teachable moment for me on Christmas Day 1993. We were playing the San Francisco 49ers; Steve Young was playing quarterback. Spencer Tillman is my special teams captain and I'm the secondary coach. We got every one of their signals and I go to Buddy and say, 'Hey, I know exactly what they're doing.' This was in a game and he turned and chewed my tail off. He could've cared less about what they were doing. It's about what we do. We'll make sure we know what we do and they're going to have to match that. Even in a practice situation. We're going to take care of each other; none of us want to get hurt, but we're not going to partner up, shake hands and do all that kind of stuff. That's all overrated; we have to get better."
What did you think of Malcolm Jenkins' play Friday?

"I thought he played very solid. I was very impressed with him. Some of the things of what we saw in college we need to see against pro speed. He can be real physical; he's real long; he's not afraid of contact. That's why I think he can play corner, nickel and safety. Corners that move in and play safety have got to be physical. He can do all of those things. Now you'll see him take a jump up and play against even faster people this week. Again, it wasn't anything about earning stripes. I really didn't want Malcolm to get a lot of work in that game because he's still going through the soreness. His body was so sore because of starting late and I didn't want him to go out there and pull something. I just wanted to get him in there towards the end of the game and get him a little confidence. He could see the situations going on; he could see the concepts that Cincinnati had going and now just go up. All rookies are nervous when they get out there but I thought he did real well."

How rare is it to have to learn so many different spots? Does that attest to his mental acumen?

"It does. I spent a long time with him on that and that was one of things that in my mind really elevated his status for us to go get him because he could do that. When I came back – and I spent a lot of time up there with him prior to the draft – when I came back and gave that as a part of my report, he jumped up in our eyes because he could do those things. This is a game of attrition and again, we want tackles to play end, we want ends to play tackle, some of our ends can play linebacker, some of our linebackers can play strong safety. We're going to have to be able to field a team if there is a rash of injuries. We had to get through a game in the Astrodome in 1994 playing against Dan Marino and we had to go to a 34 defense because we didn't have any healthy linemen and we lost three defensive backs. We had one package to beat Miami coaching on the sideline and that was just what we had to do."

Could you do that here? Could you go to a 3-4 if you had to?

"We could go to anything you need here. We could do whatever we need to do here because those are the kind of players that we're trying to group up here. The staff is strong enough; Joe Vitt is a really, really good football coach. Bill Johnson is a really good football coach. They've been around. Dennis (Allen) is a young and up-and-comer and those other young guys are all strong. They're all very versatile coaches too. They can coach more than one position. That's how we're trying to train these guys. Training camp is really a long march and we're trying to put them into as many different scenarios as we can so that they can learn conceptually over just one single position."

Have you seen in Jonathan Vilma the kind of player that can make your defense work?

"He had a pretty good game the other night. It was obvious to see that they didn't let him play running back when he was in high school. We also told him that he would've been a top ten pick if he could score. We were on him pretty hard. But I always thought from afar – I wanted to draft him when I was at Buffalo, almost traded for him when we were in Washington and then the next year he was traded here – that he would be very similar to London Fletcher. There are a lot of similarities between him and London. He just hasn't played quite as long in this system of defense but he has picked it up very well. He's doing some things right now where there's a great chess match and a great thinking man's game going on between him and Drew (Brees)."

How much information does he have to process?

"Difference-making players, great, top-notch players and captains not only play at a really high level, but raise the level of the people around them. If you don't raise the level of play of the people around you, you're just a highway cone. We don't need highway cones out there. We need players that are going to rise up and help the other people rise up. Jonathan is good enough that he'll play at a high level, but the way he can help everyone else out with the cues, the little fast-thinking things, the tips, he can raise the people around him, Fujita, all those linebackers are real sharp and can do that. That's what good leaders can do, not just good football players, leaders of men. They have to be able to do that. They fit in very well here. I think they're excited about the fact which I learned from Buddy (Ryan) also where I give them a huddle call, it starts with them and after that they take care of it on the field. They play quarterback on the field. I played quarterback a long time ago and a coach let me call the game which was the worst thing he could have ever done. Defensively through Buddy Ryan's system that's what we do. The Ryan brothers and I still use that system. There's a lot of checking going on out there. There were several things you in the ballgame the other day you might not have been able to see from the novice eye, us making checks when they're making checks, us playing a chess game. There were about seven instances where the quarterback checked into the thing we wanted them to run and we smack them in the mouth. That's fun. Jonathan Vilma and those kinds of guys like him can do that. It's not easy to coach that way, but I'm comfortable with that. I'm comfortable living on the edge. I'm comfortable with getting people to think way out there and I'm comfortable that we have smart players here. We have to keep them healthy. That's a key part of it, keeping them healthy."

Will you work on any of your packages in a preseason game?

"It will not come in the preseason. (Detroit Lions head coach) Jim Schwartz is a young assistant I helped hire a long time ago. Jim Schwartz is an assistant who worked for me and Jeff (Fisher) for quite a while. When I took the head job with the Buffalo Bills, Jim Schwartz took that job and we're very good friends. I'm not interested in Jim seeing anything until that day."

Do you plan on showing  nothing until that day?

"We have a plan on the personnel department. We want the coaching staff to be able to evaluate these guys from fundamental and functional intelligence standpoints. We were only three, four or five different calls in the ballgame. We did very well with that. We want to see them tackle, run, cover, rush so that we can get a good grade on them. The most important job we have as a coaching staff in training camp is picking the right 53 guys at the end of training camp. That's part of how we're going about coaching and our game plans in the preseason."

Are you more evaluating the one-on-one battles now?

"Yes and I will tell you this. They got a mouthful the other night with one sack and 33 pass rushes. They have to do better than that. We were affecting the timing of throws pretty good. We have to affect pass rush and temperaments with a four man rush. You have to be able to do that and this is a good time to see that. We won't watch hardly any film on Houston, Oakland or Miami. We don't care about it. What we're trying to do is what we need to have done. I think Sean has the camp really scheduled well. He has the practices scheduled well with good versus good or us versus them because the practice slows down when you hold cards. It slows down. You have to do it once the season starts but you shouldn't in preseason. Sean doesn't and neither do I."

Can you talk about Hargrove chasing down Ochocinco? Do you feel like you have a gem in him?

"He's rare. We have a 300-pound man that runs like a linebacker. You'll see him in more situations. I hope he continues to play as well as he has."

Can you talk about Scott Shanle?

"He's a lot better football player than I knew. I would be hard pressed to say that…We have a good mix of guys right there, but he's very talented. He's very sharp. He's a good coverage linebacker. I think you saw that when he came on with a lot of man to man situations. He can rush too. I didn't know that much about him until I got here."

Do you agree he seems unappreciated outside of this building?

"Joe Vitt told me when I got here that arguably he thought he was the best linebacker on this team. Every time I get to see him play I like him a little bit better. I don't love any of them right now. I like them a little bit more each and every day. When we make the 53-man roster, we'll all go to war together when the season starts. He's a good young man."

How did Jason David play?

"He had some good plays. We had some plays where guys would have helped him. It is what it is. Every day in this league is an interview. Each week I've thought he's bounced back and played pretty decent and obviously every week's important for these guys. Everyday's an interview. It's an interview for me and an interview for them and that the practices. When the lights go on, you need to be able to do in games what you do in practice. It is what it is. It's a tough league in that respect."

Can you tell Hargrove is looking for redemption?

"I love coaching those kinds of guys. I specialize in those kinds of people. Coaching is what it is X and O's wise. Sometimes getting difficult people to change, getting them to learn more or learn faster, or giving them another opportunity and giving them tough love and show them how to live a disciplined lifestyle, I really, really like giving him this opportunity. I don't think he could be with a better group of coaches in the league than where he is to get him his second, third chance or whatever it is. He's a guy that's shining in interviews. Now he just has to keep his nose clean and do the right things every day. He's 100 miles an hour, has a great personality is fun to be around and has fun playing in the games. We didn't get him many reps and threw him in defensive tackle, pretty good job with a minimal amount of work. I think he could be a real good three technique, which is your more athletic tackle.

Does he remind you of La'Roi Glover?

"Very similar body style kind of a player. Very similar to relate to. He's got a long ways to go in production because that guy was a great player. Movement wise at this stage in their careers, they are similar."

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