Gregg Williams admits he feels a comfort level being back with the Tennessee Titans.
Williams, who was suspended from the NFL last year for his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, said he never thought he wouldn’t get another chance to coach in the NFL, even though the suspension from Commissioner Roger Goodell was an indefinite one.
And to get that opportunity among so many familiar faces is a bonus. Williams returns to the Titans organization where he began his professional coaching career. He was the defensive coordinator in 1999 when the Titans reached the franchise’s only Super Bowl, and the following year when the defense was ranked No. 1 statistically in the NFL.
“I feel like I am home. It is so much fun to see Mike Munchak and Jerry Gray, and Steve Brown and Bruce Matthews and Shawn Jefferson.” Williams said. “Those are five coaches on the staff I had a chance to coach and I am not much older. I guess I was pretty young when I was coaching those guys. … So that is fun. It has been great for me to see just how good a head coach Mike Munchak is.”
The Titans also have Nate Kaczor and Arthur Smith on staff, whom Williams worked with in Jacksonville and Buffalo, respectively.
The real question for Williams and the Titans, though, is how he and Gray will co-exist. Gray retains the title as defensive coordinator, and Williams comes on board with the position of senior assistant/defense. That won’t be an issue, Williams claims.
“We are so much on the same page. One of the things we’ve done for all these years, the years we’ve been apart, we traded so much information back and forth,” Williams said. “It has just been a real good match and a real comfortable match for everybody
“We're very open and we speak a lot, but we always have, like I said, even when we haven't been together. He's like a brother. I'm not that much older than him anyway. We've always called and remained in contact. We've done a pretty good job trying to divide up the workload.”
Williams says that one of his roles, he sees, is being a trusted set of eyes and ears for both Gray and Munchak, so they can devote more time to other areas as well.
“Jerry Gray is the best secondary coach I’ve ever been involved with. I think one of the things, and you’ll have to ask him, is that we me being around, he’s been able to have his eyes and interests there more than having to go over every thing else, and the same with Mike Munchak,” Williams said. “His comfort-ability is that he hasn’t had to be in all the defensive meetings because of his comfort-ability with me, that I’m in the defensive meetings. So now, Mike Munchak gets to do what he loves to do and that’s coach the offensive line.”
But perhaps the most important ingredient Williams brings to the Titans is a competitive fire that has been lacking at times over the past couple of seasons. Tennessee gave up a franchise-worst 471 points a year ago. Williams’ reputation is that he is an aggressive defensive coach, and the Titans will take on that persona this season.
“Well, aggressive is how we're going to be and we’ll never, ever, ever apologize for competing,” Williams said. “We want to be as attacking as we can on defense, and we want to be able to set the tone on who we play against at all times. … We'll play exactly how we have to play from a toughness standpoint and from an effort standpoint."