Q&A with Williams

Entering his second season as Bills coach, Gregg Williams is facing heightened expectations as compared to his first year as coach in 2001. Here he talks about that as well as some of the ways the Bills plan to get production from their numerous young players.


Q: What do you think of the leadership on this team now, particularly with all the new veteran faces?

Gregg Williams: We're very comfortable with the leadership that we have. Drew Bledsoe brings a presence to our team, a calming influence. The fact that he knows the division well is also a calming influence. And some of the older veterans who have played in big games before have played some of the common opponents before. That aspect is much more relaxing for me going into the year.

Q: How is the offensive line shaping up now, given some of the preseason difficulties they had?

Williams: We feel very good with their athletic presence. We think they can be a very dominant group with more time under their belt. The big thing is that we had a few injuries in the preseason – can't predict those things. But they bounced back very quickly from those things. We just need to give them some time. They got a great attitude together. During our first practice for the regular season they came in with a sense or urgency. They understand that protecting Drew Bledsoe is big on their list.

Q: Do you look back at last year with the intent of erasing the memories with this season's play?

Williams: You always take a look at the history to know where you're gonna go. We've brought in people this year who have been involved before in helping teams turn it around. We need to start off fast. We need to be healthy at the start of the year. And now we have to give our big playmakers the chance to make those plays. Kevin Gilbride has done a good job in keeping the self-scouting done right by having enough guys make enough plays – to show a little bit of everything this preseason so that we can narrow in and get the ball in our playmakers' hands.

Q: This season you only have six divisional games. That makes the divisional games even more important than they have been in the past, doesn't it?

Williams: Every division game is very important. When you start a season off with a divisional game, it's double important. So the game vs. the Jets counts double. This early part of our schedule will let us know quickly how good of a team we can be. We played very tough last year. We were in a lot of ball games. We just have to have the ball bounce our way early in the season to give us some confidence.

Q: Early in the year, do you think there's a real chance that you will have to rely on Drew Bledsoe because it will take time for the line and the running game to develop?

Williams: It's already been done that way in the preseason. Drew has masked some things thathave taken place this preseason. He has played better at his position than some of the other people on offense already. We need to continue to have him do that as people learn this game and get some experience themselves – particularly against division opponents.

One of the things we talked about last year was that when you have a young guy, they usually play much better against the division opponent the second time around because they understand the matchup.

Drew understands the division and that's part of his strength. I will hope that he's able to play at a high enough level that he can mask some of the other things that need to get caught up (with experience).

Q: Do you think you'll be unbalanced with the pass early on?

Williams: We would hope that wouldn't be the case.

Q: Are fan expectations too high for this team?

Williams: A special part about this place right here is that they love their Buffalo Bills. We wouldn't want them to be any more excited than they already are. They need to be excited about the season. We still have a lot of work to do on getting this team ready to go for the long haul. The fact that everybody's excited helps us get things going on this team. It's special to be in Buffalo. Drew likes being here. He's spoke about that. Our young players are going to have a good time walking out of that tunnel for the first time. Wilson Stadium will be a special place.

Q: Is it possible that as good as Drew Bledsoe has been in the past, that this team underestimated what he can do for the offense now?

Williams: We never underestimate anything about Drew. Not one bit.

Q: Is there sense that this whole team has something to prove?

Williams: I think the players who have something to prove are the fun people to coach. To a certain degree whenever you go out there you looking to achieve a certain measure of respect at your individual position, be it coaching or a player. That's the fun part of why we do what we do. That's why we keep score. Everyone has their own self motivations to try to be the best they can be.

Q: You've said young guys play better the second time around against division opponents because they understand the matchups? Now Coy Wire is the starting strong safety as a rookie. How does that make you feel?

Williams: Coy is playing with a unique group that can quickly help him with some of the things he's getting ready to face. But the most impressive thing about Coy is that he can take care of himself. Coy is fine.

Q: How will Chidi Ahanotu be utilized this season?

Williams: He will be playing on some pass rush downs and you'll see him inside and outside. His versatility allows us to play him inside and outside on pass rush downs. But he'll be in on run downs. Of course, we've got some packages where we want him to rush the passer too.

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