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Williams Talks Defense

Saints DC says Saints locker room is "the best I have ever been a part of"

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New Orleans Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams post-practice media availability
Saturday, July 30, 2011

As a defensive coach who loves contact, how do you feel about the new format with one-a-days and the limited practice with pads?
"In 2002, when I was the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, I petitioned the NFL to do away with two-a-days.  For people not to understand that fatigue and accumulated contact are directly related to injuries, well they're not very smart.  How we go about practicing once a day and how we go about practicing twice a day,  Sean Payton is very smart.  Even when we had two-a-days, we've taken the load off those guys.  So, I'm fine.  However they say we're supposed to practice, as long as we have our guys back (with the team), our meetings scheduled, we'll get our guys ready to go.  One of the things that we did since we had so much time this offseason is we went through every what-if scenario possible as a defensive staff and we said, 'What if this thing stays locked out and we have three days to play Green Bay, can we get ready?'  What happens if we had eight days, can we get ready?  We prepared for every scenario.  We worked 60, 70, and 80 hour work weeks. 

We really didn't take much time off this summer.  We had a chance to do a lot of really neat projects defensively.  We had a chance to get ahead of our opponents for next year.  We're playing a different division.  Look at the first month of our schedule.  They're all teams that the Saints haven't played in a while.  I have at other places, but what are those teams going to be like?  We were able to research those things, and the other thing we did was I think we did a really good job as a staff contributing to the personnel acquisition on what we did for the draft. 

I think we did a really good job in the personnel acquisition with who we targeted out there for unrestricted free agents.  The other thing we did really well was figure out what we can do better schematically to help the guys here.  I hope you guys have recognized that we're not a cookie-cutter here.  You have to conform to our scheme to play for us.  As a coach, I have to adapt to the guys I have to coach.  The most important thing we have to do this training camp is pick the right 53 guys.  Now if that means changing our scheme, then we'll change our scheme.  Just because I like calling something doesn't make us very good.  I've got to try to call things that we can play, that are best for our skill set, and I've been real fortunate.  

Shaun Rogers is 6-4.  Cameron Jordan is 6-4.  Is that by design?  Is that to block down passes or any specific reason?
"We're going to look different getting off the bus.  You've got bigger people.  We have to get those bigger people to play with the same tenacity that our smaller people have played with in the past, but we sure look different.  Shaun Rogers dwarfs me when I walk into the huddle.  I've wanted to coach him ever since he came out of Texas.  We've finally had a chance to hook up.  Talent-wise, he could be up with the second, third, fourth best players I've had a chance to coach. 

Now, he doesn't know how to play yet.  He's had a lot of coaches allow him to do a lot of different things.  I'm not looking for a committee decision and I'm not looking for his decision.  He has bought into the way we're going to coach him, and he has bought into the way he's going to get a chance to play here.  I think he is a great hire for the New Orleans Saints.  We didn't recruit him.  He recruited us.  We interviewed him to see if he could be a part of us.  That was really critical in the way Mickey (Loomis) approached that whole thing.  I think he did a great job with the way he set the tone for that whole thing.  We interviewed Shaun Rogers to see if he would fit in with us. 

The other thing I hope you all also took a look at this offseason was the most important decision Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton, Joe Vitt, me, or anybody else who had a chance to have a vote in who we brought in here is let's make sure we bring the right kind of people into our locker room.  You know how hard Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have worked to have the right kind of locker room?  This is the best locker room I've ever been a part of."

Do you like the personality Shaun Rogers has brought into the locker room?
"Yes, and watch how he is here.  I couldn't be more proud.  Here's the deal - if he's not right, put it on me.  You can blame me.  I'm fine with it.  He'll be fine."

The back end of the defense is looking the same with Roman Harper coming back, isn't it?
"With Roman coming back and Patrick Robinson, I can't wait to see Patrick make that big jump just like we asked (of) Malcolm Jenkins and his big jump.  Patrick will make a big jump this year here, too.  We're getting Tracy Porter, Jabari Greer, and all those guys healthy.  A lot was said last year about how tough Jabari Greer was.  Jabari played 11 or 12 games with a fully dislocated shoulder.  I think that shows remarkable resolve.  That's our culture here.  Our culture here is that is what you do."

Talk about the road back for Jonathan Casillas after a promising offseason last year and a good preseason.
"He has to prove that he can be available week-in and week-out.  It doesn't make a difference if somebody has talent.  We've cut a lot of players that have had a lot of talent throughout my coaching years, but if you're not available you become a reporter, a coach, or an insurance salesman but you're not a professional athlete.  So you have to be available.  What he knows is that he has to be available.  Stanley Arnoux was waived a couple of days ago because he wasn't available.  This is a brutal and tough position.  This is a production business.  I love seeing Jonathan Casillas practice, but I would like to see him play more."

How key was re-signing Roman Harper to your defense?
"It was very key.  He's come light-years.  You've got a two-year-in-a-row Pro Bowl football player that's back, that's young, and is continuing to improve. He's continuing to get better. A lot was said about his last game and it's unfortunate you guys don't know much about football.  You guys criticized him for two plays in that last game of the year.  You're dead wrong because he played well except for two plays which he played poor on.  But I could say that for about 99 percent of them out there.  I'm really happy that Roman Harper is back.  We need him here.  I'll be a better coach and we'll be a better team because Roman Harper is back here."

Isn't this how it's supposed to work with these in-house guys like Jermon Bushrod, Roman Harper, Lance Moore getting re-signed the last few days.
"It's critical.  This is how it's supposed to work.  It's critical because if you look at the teams in the league that are any good, they work the hardest to keep the guys that they know.  Usually the guys that become out there on the market, their teams aren't going the extra mile to get them back.  I think it speaks volumes for how Sean (Payton) and Mickey (Loomis) want this place to be run.  Again, it's really easy why I continue to say it, and you guys think I'm leaving, but I continue to say I like it here.  It's the best place I've been in that respect right there."

Isn't it also a tribute to the scouting on the front end?  You're getting the right guys from the beginning?
"It's very critical about getting the right guys the first time around.  When you get a guy that's young, you get a guy to mold that guy better than a guy that comes in here and thinks he knows everything anyway.  Young guys come into the league and are eager to know, 'How do you want me to do this coach?'  You can mold him from day one.  We have a responsibility to make sure Cam Jordan, Malcolm Jenkins, Patrick Robinson, and Martez Wilson… when those guys walk through that door, we want to make sure we put a stamp on them.  We break them down before we build them up.  Sometimes you have to break them before you bridle a thoroughbred.  I don't want them to spit the bit.  I want them to keep the bit in the mouth our way every single day.  And some of these guys, we're a culture shock to.  I'm not concerned about other people's acquisitions or where other guys went in the league.  Let's just get our guys back that we know we have an investment in, and I think Mickey and Sean do a fabulous job of that."

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