Gregg Williams talks about LaVar Arrington's recovery, Part 1.
Gregg Williams talks about Arrington's recover, Part 2.
When asked about how important Arrington's return was to the defense, Williams said, "The Redskins organization, the Redskins emblem, the Redskins defense, whatever it is, is more important than any one individual. We proved that last year. Now, I'm a better coach when I have players like LaVar Arrington on the field, there's no doubt about that, but he has to be healthy. [Last year] he gutted up and played a few games injured and he was not effective at all."
We'll be better when those big-play players are healthy, but not if they're half speed," Williams continued. "When I say that half speed, there is a great deal of competitive balance, everyone is on such an even stand that a guy who is half speed in this league can't survive. There's nobody that good in this league."
Among Arrington's complaints during his outburst to some reporters early last April was that the Redskins forced him to come back against the wished of his doctor:
I'm taking as much time as I need, and if that means they're upset and want to get rid of me, then so be it. But I'm not coming back before my knee is better. I tried it their way, and it got me on crutches again. Now I'm going to try it the way that Dr. Andrews and the rest of the medical staff want me to do, and that's the bottom line.Williams disputed that Arrington was rushed back. "This organization is the best I've ever been with on making sure that there is a process that you have to go through before you get (back) on the field," he said. "And that process was executed with him last year, too."
Over the course of the 2004 season, Williams' defense was playing with a total of 11 undrafted free agents on its depth chart and still finished as the top-ranked unit in the NFC. Therefore he had some added credibility when he said, "There are so many players out there on the street corner than have NFL ability. If ability was all it took to play in this league those guys wouldn't be on the street corner any more."
What does it take beyond ability? "It's more about accountability and availability," Williams said. "This is a production league for a coach, for a player, for an owner, for anybody, that's what it's about."
Despite his tough words, Williams clearly had some sympathy for what Arrington is going through in his rehab. "It is eye opening when you haven't been injured in a long time. You find out an awful lot about yourself when you have to rehab because it is a very lonely time," Williams said. "It is a tough time, but it does wake you up and make you say, ‘I need to do whatever I can to keep my body in shape, I need to do whatever I can to keep myself out of harm without making the defense weak.'"
Still, Williams offered no assurance that Arrington would ever be the same as he was before his injury. "Sometimes guys come back and never ever get hurt again. Sometimes it could be the start of the finish."
Click here for a transcript of Williams' comments