It could have easily been billed as a motivational speech, or as a blueprint for how NFL players should conduct themselves. Last Saturday afternoon at the Washington Redskins mini-camp, Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams spoke openly and candidly about the Redskins, his defensive coaches and players, the media, and life in general in the NFL. Williams opened up his press conference -- a press conference that lasted 30 minutes -- by praising head coach Joe Gibbs and how much enjoyment he gets from coaching with a legend. Williams added: “I have to pinch myself everyday to make sure this is real.”
"The offensive coaches and players have made it very challenging for our defense this off-season," Williams said, noting that the Redskins have more team speed on the field now than at any time during the 2004 season. He also pointed out that the Redskins 2005 defense includes 11 players coming off injuries, "It's like we went out and got 11 free agents."
Williams was also quick to make known that his defense (which finished 2nd overall statistically), closed out last season against Minnesota with just three players who lined up in the opening game against Tampa Bay. Williams called it a 'tribute to his defensive staff'. A staff that Williams said chose to stay in Washington despite many of them receiving offers from other teams. Williams joked that he wouldn't give permission to other teams to even speak to them.
When the topic turned to the players, Williams boasted that the Redskins led the NFL in undrafted players. Out of a 53-man roster, the Redskins had 15 players who were not selected by any team in the NFL. Williams said he could have never predicted the year his defense had last year, and added that he got more enjoyment from coaching last year's team then he did in the previous 10 or 12 years.
When pressed by various members of the media for answers on various topics like whom will fill the middle linebacker position, Lavar Arrington's status and of course Sean Taylor, Williams was at his best. Williams said no one player is bigger than the Redskins organization, emblem or team. On the middle linebacker position, Williams said he likes the guys he has in camp and said he's sure one will separate themselves from the pack. He challenged the media by asking, "who knew who Antonio Pierce was at this time last year." Williams became almost defiant as he asked the media, "How about the job Dale Lindsey did? For that matter how about the job Greg Blache did with the defensive line? What about Coach Jackson bringing in Walt Harris when many of the media said that he was washed up. You're all too busy writing about Sean Taylor. Where are those stories?"
On Arrington Williams said, "It's no secret that I'm a better coach when Lavar is on the field. Last year he played a few games hurt and he wasn't very effective, not very effective at all. The Redskins have a process for an injured player to get back on the field. In fact it's the best process I've ever been associated with in my coaching career and whether you want to believe it or not, Lavar went through that process. I heard a reporter ask Lavar if he's learned anything while sitting out with an injury, Lavar answered, 'yea, don't get hurt.' That's a real honest answer. I think Lavar understands you have to be on the field. This league is full of great players and no one is able to play at half speed, not even Lavar, he's not that good, no one in this league is."
Williams called safety Sean Taylor 'the best athlete' he had ever coached adding that it wasn't even close. "I'm still a Sean Taylor fan. I was asked the other day, do I have one-on-ones with the players? I have one-on-ones, one-on-thirteen's, and one-on-forties if I have to", Williams said. "I do a lot of things you all don't know about."
Williams closed his press conference with some very perceptive words that all NFL players should take to heart. Williams went in to great depth about how playing in the NFL is as much about availability and accountability, as it is about ability. "I know a lot of guy on the streets with NFL ability, but for one reason or another they aren't available. This is a here and now business and if you're not available or accountable then the game is going on without you. I have players come to me with little hurts and say coach I can't go today. That doesn't cut it with me. Let the coaches and the trainers be the judge of that."
Williams singled out rookie Carlos Rogers, saying "the rookie showed the vets something this week by playing on a sprained ankle. The problem we have with Carlos is getting him to take it easy, so today we had to make him sit out, I like that!"
Williams ended his talk, by reiterating that he is a better coach with Sean Taylor and Lavar Arrington on the field, but that he can only concern himself with who is on the field.
After listening to Williams speak on Saturday, while the defense may be slightly better with certain players on the field, it's in good hands as long as Gregg Williams is on the sidelines.
Dan Hines is a writer for theHogs.net. For question or comment, please contact Dan at DEHog@theHogs.net.