The trademark of any defense with Gregg Williams' fingerprints on it is one that is aggressive and forces turnovers as a result of that style.
Williams, speaking for the first time in training camp as the Titans senior defensive assistant, is hoping that the defense can begin to jell after two lackluster preseason games.
Thus far, the Tennessee Titans defense, while admittedly vanilla in preseason, has struggled to find that identity. But it is still a work in progress and a goal that Williams hopes to accelerate and help defensive coordinator Jerry Gray reach by the time the season opens Sept. 8 in Pittsburgh.
“As you've seen in practice, that's been a big emphasis in practice of what we've tried to do and how we've created so many turnovers in practice,” Williams said. “It was nice to see a step from game one to game two. In game two, we got a couple, and we missed out on a couple of other ones. I hope we do a better job of doing that. Anytime you can create a short field for the offense, give our offense an extra possession, it also takes points off the board potentially against us and is a big part of what we want to do here.”
One of the things that Williams and Gray are charged with doing is to change the attitude and culture of a defense that surrendered a franchise-worst 471 points last season.
And part of changing that attitude is having the players adopt that philosophy that the coaches are trying to sell them on.
“It's been fun to see some of them come in here and match the intensity of the coaches, wanting to be aggressive. I've never coached a player that didn't want to be as aggressive as possible,” Williams said. “I've always said don't use me as an excuse for not being aggressive, because I'm an aggressive coach, I want aggressive players, and all the coaches here do that. So that's been fun to watch them do that.”
Williams said the Titans have been careful not to tip anything scheme-wise in preseason.
“We've done no scheme things here in the preseason. We've just gone in there and tried to play technique-type football, play normal front coverage type football. So we'll be OK in those areas,” Williams said.
The trick, Williams said, is taking the talent that is on hand, and getting them to not only play fast physically, but mentally in their reactions as well.
“Those are the things mom and dad gave them in the gene pool is overall speed,” he said. “But as coaches, we can speed up their information or speed up their decision process by not being afraid to make a mistake, anticipating expected concepts and anticipating expected plays. We're getting them to go full speed in the practice sessions, so you get a chance to correct that decision.”
Williams said he is encouraged by how the Titans have done thus far.
“It's never going to be perfect until it's perfect, but it's been better here than some of the other places I've started,” Williams said.