New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg WilliamsWednesday, November 24, 2010
"It was a fast week. This is the eighth Thanksgiving game I have been in. It's pretty fun. I always enjoy playing Thanksgiving. Some of the NFL Network's ones on Thursday are hard (to prepare for) but for whatever reason the Thursday on Thanksgiving, there is a little bit different attitude. The players like doing it. From a coaching standpoint, after you have been doing it as long as I have been doing it – information is information and it really forces you to take out the nuggets. It is good for me with this staff. This is the first time I have had to go through this on Thanksgiving day with my own guys. It forces them to be better. I have been real pleased with how they have done as far getting guys the information they need and hopefully their bodies have recovered."
Will the Dallas receivers be the toughest you guys have faced this season?
"They are a pretty good group. There are some good matchups there. I am a fan of them till you have to play them. The young (Dez) Bryant kid has done very well. Miles (Austin) is…I like those kinds of guys that have come in and earn their stripes in this league. He is a guy that a lot of people counted out. All he has done is earn his contract and earn his spot. Those guys you like. I have known Jason (Garrett) for a long time. When I was head coach of the Buffalo Bills we thought about signing him. Their running backs are solid. It will be a good test for us at this point in the year."
What difference have you seen with the Cowboys now that they are under the direction of Garrett?
"I thought as a backup quarterback, he has been in a coach in waiting. One of my good friends in the business is Troy Aikman. In my Houston Oilers days and Dallas Cowboys days from the time he first got drafted and Jason came in to back him up. We would have five or six practices or scrimmages against those guys at the Cowboys training camp. He has been a coach in waiting for a long time. It has been fun to see him put his personality on things. You don't have to be a screamer. You have to be a person who has driven principals. He comes from a coaching family. I have known his dad Jim since the mid '80s. It is fun to see him do things. It really is. I know he had some opportunities a few years ago and now he came to the Cowboys instead of taking those opportunities. He has wanted the 'right one.' I would advise him to take the 'right one.' I have been in that situation before too. I have been a friend of his for a long time. I think all those Garrett boys have done a good job in this profession. I don't know why you go to Princeton to get in this profession. Just like my own son."
Because of their coaching change, can you take anything away from last year's game?
"They are who they are from our side. Defensively, I haven't taken a look at one snap to see what they have changed defensively going from Wade (Phillips) to Paul (Pasqualoni) running it. Offensively, it is the same. There are no changes there. Each year, when you go from last year to this year you look how Jason is using his personnel. Is there a personnel change with a new guy like No. 88 – Dez Bryant coming in? We have to be ready for those types of things but it is still the same."
Is there any difference in preparing for QB Jon Kitna instead of QB Tony Romo?
"Each time there are a few nuances or style of quarterback play but basically it is the same offense. Are there a couple of different likes or dislikes in route combinations? Yeah. Are there a couple of different launch points as opposed to where Tony does in the pocket? Yeah, but basically it is the same offense."
What are your impressions of WR Dez Bryant?
"He is a really good football player. Sometimes we get hung up on somebody's athletic ability. In all honesty, and I am not saying this tongue-in-cheek, it is really the fifth thing on our board that we look at defensively. What I like about him and what I have watched him do is his commitment to his teammates and how hard he plays the game. He plays with passion and energy. He doesn't play like a prima donna. He doesn't play like an individual guy that says 'look at me'. He plays like a hardnosed teammate that you want to play with. For rookies, sometimes it takes them a while. Their whole life they come into situations where everybody has patted them on the back. Maybe a few of the things he has had to overcome, maybe he sees this as a second chance to prove himself. I do know this – he plays hard. I respect that. I won't respect a guy's ability, no matter how good they are, if they don't play hard. Those kinds of guys that pick and choose when to play in a ball game, those kinds of guys can stand by me as long as I am here. Mr. (Tom) Benson may have to pay them but I don't have to play them."
How much has your defense improved this season?
"Empowerment is powerful. Meaning, how soon can I transfer ownership to what we do here to them. It's not me, please believe this – the assistant coaching staff is strong. The leadership on this defensive football team is strong. I am going to say about midseason last season, and I tease Jon Vilma about this, it was some of those down games where (Scott) Fujita wasn't on the field. All of a sudden, Jon's leadership overshadowed everybody else' leadership on the defense. They started the year that way. It was a thing where, I had them hooked and so constantly I am giving it to them. I let them process it and take ownership. The thing that we have to continue to get better at is, and I think it is something that is not looked at strong enough in this league, is functional intelligence, or common sense as my dad would say, about playing situations in a game.
"For instance, it's 2nd and 18 when Mike Williams double moves Jabari Greer. Jabari is great football player but (Williams) stuttered his feet after five yards on 2nd and 18 so why would you stop your feet? If he catches the ball who cares?
"You can't play the same technique on every single play. You have to be able to grow and understand what you are playing situationally. For instance, if a guy is dribbling the ball down the floor and he is at half court, are you going to get in his face and guard the jump shot? He might drive around you just like Mike Williams ran around us. We have to continue to do that. We are light years ahead of where we were last year but we still aren't good enough in that yet.
"When you start putting a mix of players in there, young players coming in always screw up the mess a little bit but Patrick (Robinson) has really done well catching up to speed. He never thought he would learn this much this fast. The one young guy that just does outstanding on understanding situations is Malcolm (Jenkins). He has done a great job fitting in with some of these other players."