When Gregg Williams interviewed to be the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints back in 2009, Sean Payton was so struck by his preparation and intensity that he gave up $250,000 dollars so the Saints could afford the fiery defensive coordinator. Sean Payton envisioned that Williams would bring a similar identity to Payton, but on the other side of the football. Williams brought an aggressive, complex scheme with a lot of swagger.
In the 2009 Super Bowl season, the Saints had the No. 1 overall offense and their defense forced a league lead, 39 turnovers.
These two strong personalities were so much alike, that conflict had to be stirred and the dismissal of Gregg Williams was inevitable after a couple of years. Coach Payton was all out with his schematics and tactics as he attempted an onside kick in the Super Bowl. Gregg Williams was exceedingly passed that aggression on defense with his bounty system and pregame talks of violent attacks on opposing players that could be shown in mid-evil movies.
After the Bounty System penalties were handed out and the Saints coaching staff, management, and key players did their time, Gregg Williams kept his Super Bowl ring and split ways with the Saints organization.
Gregg Williams helped bring the first Lombardi trophy in 2010 to the state of Louisiana. The Williams led defense wasn’t only magnificent at turning the ball over in the regular season, the Saints defense was more dangerous in the post-season. They caused 5 turnovers against the Vikings in the 2010 NFC Championship game and they had a pick 6 against Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl.
The aggressive mastermind behind the Saints Super Bowl defense was suspended indefinitely after the bounty punishment was delivered, but he knew very well that he wouldn’t be out of a job long.
Gregg Williams landed a few coaching gigs after his suspension was uplifted and before ending up with New York Jets today.
*Pro Football Reference
-Tenn. Titans Assistant Coach: 2013-2014
-L.A. Rams DC: 2014-2016
-Cle Browns DC/ Interim Head Coach: 2017-2019
-New York Jets DC: 2019-Present
Gregg Williams has been coaching in the NFL since 1990 and he is one of two coaches to coach every position in the NFL (of course, Bill Belichick is the other). The polarizing figure who coached under Buddy Ryan for the Houston Oilers has been everywhere in modern football history. Gregg Williams wounded up bringing his talents, tone, and experience to the big apple in 2019.
Gregg Williams did a fantastic job as the Jets defensive coordinator in 2019 and continued to show why he’s one of the best minds in the game. In 2019, the Williams led defense ranked 6th in total defense and 2nd in rushing yards allowed. The Jets defense only had one pro bowler (Jamaal Adams) in 2019, and Pro Football Focus just ranked their defensive line 31st out of the 32 teams in the league. Still, Gregg Williams had their blood boiling and motivation high as they were firing off on all cylinders last year.
Gregg Williams is notorious for one-line comments and expletive statements, but one of his media press responses after the Jets victory over Dallas represents his work best. The old school idealist Gregg Williams expressed, “If I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out swinging.” Williams was referring to the game-clinching scene where the Jets were up 24-22 and the Cowboys needed a two point conversion with less than a minute in the game. The Jets sent an all-out blitz with the safety, Jamal Adams streaming right in the quarterbacks face, and all of the cover defenders were left on an island. The Jets forced a quick, incomplete pass and rode off to victory.
Gregg Williams is a dying breed
Gregg Williams was a disciple under the fearless, genius, coach Buddy Ryan (pictured above) on the Houston Oilers team in 1994, where Williams was a defensive assistant and Buddy Ryan was the defensive coordinator.
Buddy Ryan is famous for implementing the 46 defense, a scheme that would put eight defenders in the box. Its simple purpose was to overload pressures and blitzes into opposing offenses that didn’t know how to account for the unusual number of defenders. The main goal by Buddy Ryan, which runs it’s course today by Gregg Williams, is hitting the quarterback and hitting him often. Buddy Ryan used this defensive philosophy on the 1985 Bears defense, which was arguably the best defense in NFL history.
Gregg Williams sat down with NFL Network in 2016 after Buddy Ryan’s passing, to talk about how his mentor played a crucial role in his development as a coach. Williams spoke about how he learned the Buddy Ryan toughness, Buddy Ryan swagger, and, most importantly, the “Buddy Ryan defense.” Buddy Ryan loved Williams so much that he tried to “tag” Gregg Williams when Buddy switched over to Arizona from Houston when tagging coaches was possible. After Ryan retired, Buddy Ryan would always call his former friend Williams, and heckle him to use his favorite play calls more.
Williams is one of the only coaches to learn under Buddy Ryan, and William’s persona stands out in the league today. Washington Football team’s head coach, Ron Rivera, was a linebacker on the 1985 Bears defense under Buddy Ryan, and he has maintained that competitive edge throughout his football career. Buddy Ryan has two sons: Rex and Rob Ryan. Both of whom have run successful defenses in the NFL. Gregg Williams has carried his teachings from Buddy Ryan very far. He may not be punching his co-coaches in the face during a game like Buddy Ryan, but he uses the same coaching methods as the Hall of Fame legend.
Gregg Williams will return to being a head coach
Since 2007, only one head coach has had a winning record for the Cleveland Browns. That coach was an interim head coach named Gregg Williams. Williams didn’t just step in for a couple of games when Hue Jackson was fired after going 3-36-1. Williams stepped in for the remaining 8 games and posted a 5-3 record.
Williams interviewed for the head coaching gig in the 2019 off-season, but the Browns chose to sign their 2018 offensive coordinator, Freddie Kitchens, to be the head coach for the 2019 season. Williams penned a classy goodbye to the “dog pound” as he signed on to be the Jets, defensive coordinator. The Browns fired Freddie Kitchens after a 6-10 record in 2019, and they hired another new coach this off-season.
Former Browns assistant coach, Bob Wylie, was convinced that Williams deserved the head coaching spot, but he intimidated the Browns G.M.
Williams is on another team that could be on it’s way to relieving its head coach from its duties. The Jets went 7-9 last season, and they received plenty of criticism for not adding many star players this off-season. If the Jets struggle this year and their offense continues to be dismal, it will seem obvious that Adam Gase won’t remain as the head coach. It would make sense for the team to promote their efficient defensive coordinator to head coaching duties, a coach acquainted with the culture, an experienced coach, and somebody successful with the team already. If Gase gets fired mid season, Williams would surely be the interim head coach, and he could prove his head coaching worth early on.
If the Jets maintain their head coach for its foreseeable future, or if the whole coaching staff gets relieved next off-season, Williams should get head coaching offers to go elsewhere. Williams will have proven to have an elite defense displayed for many teams, he’s won a Super Bowl, and he’s coaching in a league where teams are realizing that “young, offensive gurus,” aren’t cutting it as a head coach.
Expect the defensive coordinator for the Jets, Buddy Ryan disciple, and appreciator of profanities to be leading a team out of the tunnel soon.