NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans senior assistant/defense Gregg Williams is operating way behind the scenes. A coach who used to bask in the public eye stays far out of view now.
But if you watch the Titans defense, you can see him clearly.
The corners are pressing, the defense is blitzing, the fronts are disguised and varied, the packages are plentiful.
All of that is different than what was happening under defensive coordinator Jerry Gray the past two seasons. I’ve written about how Gray is in a no-win situation now in terms of fan and media perception.
I asked Titans general manager Ruston Webster about Williams influence on the defense today during his weekly appearance on The Midday 180 in Nashville.
“I definitely think that Gregg’s had an influence in a positive way on the defense and on our entire team,” Webster said. “... Any time you add somebody with his knowledge, his experience, his attention to detail, I think that’s a real positive for us. Jerry has handled everything like a pro, he does make the calls, he gives it to Gregg and Gregg gives it to a linebacker and they discuss things during the course of the game.
“To say Gregg hasn’t had an influence would be wrong. I think some of our problems last year fall on me from personnel. We didn’t necessarily have the right guys to run the defense that Jerry wanted to at certain positions. So I’m going to take the blame for some of that as well.”
That’s an admirable answer, for sure. The Titans lacked talent on defense in 2011, and part of the blame for that should also be aimed at Bud Adams. His insistence on the pursuit of Peyton Manning stalled the team’s attempts to chase a big defensive player like Mario Williams, and they the settled for a guy like Kamerion Wimbley who’s now undergoing a severe role reduction despite a big contract.
But Gray needed to better realizing what he did and didn’t have and could have coached what he did have better. He admitted as much later in the 6-10 season when the Titans began to play more aggressively, in part because players were asking for it and faring better when given chances at it.
It’s Gray who’s trotted out for the weekly press session, it’s (presumably) Gray who’s leading game-planning meetings, it’s Gray who’s calling the defense.
It’s Williams who’s changed the attitude with great results so far.