Friendship convinced Williams to join Rams
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Gregg Williams considers Jeff Fisher one of his best friends. When asked to join the St. Louis Rams’ staff, he had to accept.
“I have a very close and tight circle of friends. Not many people get inside that circle,” Williams said in a teleconference Tuesday, a day after agreeing to become the team’s defensive coordinator. “He needed my help and I couldn’t say no.”
As for new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, there’s the enticement of working with quarterback Sam Bradford, the No. 1 pick of the 2010 draft. Schottenheimer was impressed with Bradford’s enthusiasm for the new regime.
“I was blown away with how excited he is about the upcoming year and he just seems like a terrific young man,” Schottenheimer said. “I obviously spent a little time looking at him when he was coming out of college and things like that.
“But we had a very nice visit and I’m thrilled to have a guy like that that we can build around.”
Williams has 22 years of coaching experience in the NFL, including six as Fisher’s defensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans. He left the 13-win New Orleans Saints for the two-victory Rams because of Fisher — and says one of the things he likes most about Fisher is how cool he can be under fire.
“He’s very, very intelligent and he’s very patient for this position. Very, very seldom does he make a rash or improper decision,” Williams said. “You’ll see Jeff probably be as calm as anybody.”
Williams promises a culture change with a team that ranked near the bottom of the NFL against the run and often faded late under the pressure of keeping the league’s worst offense in the game. He said getting the most out of players is more important than whether the Rams play in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.
“Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve been able to get a top-five defense, and when we do that it’s because I will adapt to the strengths of the people here,” Williams said. “I think coaches make mistakes when they pigeonhole.”
Williams said the Rams are close to finalizing the defensive staff, which will include his son, Blake.
Williams was Titans defensive coordinator with Fisher when the Titans lost to the Rams in the 2000 Super Bowl. He’s watched replays of the Saints’ Super Bowl championship two years ago, but not the loss to the Rams.
“I was there. The agony of defeat, I guess,” Williams said. “I don’t like seeing those impressions in my mind. That was a tough loss.”
Schottenheimer joined Fisher’s staff after six seasons with the New York Jets, including consecutive appearances in the AFC championship game. In 2009, the Jets led the NFL with an average of 172 yards rushing per game. Schottenheimer is going through game film of the last two seasons, and already is impressed with Bradford’s accuracy and footwork.
“That was one of the things that jumped off the film at me,” Schottenheimer said. “Obviously, I’ve been around a lot of young quarterbacks, but I think this guy’s got a chance to be real special.”
Bradford will be playing for his third coordinator in three seasons, after Pat Shurmur his rookie year and Josh McDaniels this past season.
“As we work through the process and get things going here in a few months, it will not be a problem, I believe,” Schottenheimer said. “I understand how smart he is and how much he wants to work and is excited about the opportunity.”
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