Williams: Bam, Bam, Bam Goes Manning

Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams knows how much damage Peyton Manning can do a defense in a short period of time. "Bam, bam, bam," Williams told the media this week, describing how quickly Manning scored against Williams' Bills team. The Saints coach made no excuse for his comments on Manning previously.

(on his comments about the Saints delivering some ‘remember me hits’ on Peyton Manning)
“In all honesty, it was really kind of a tongue and cheek thing with Blaine Bishop. When Blaine played for me, he was that kind of player. One of the things I worried about Blaine, whenever he would get mad, for the next three or four plays he would abort all coverage, he would abort all responsibilities and just go take it out on the opponent. I would ask him, ‘What are you doing?’ and he would tell me, ‘Giving him some remember me shots.’ We were joking about that and what he said was, ‘You got any remember me’s in you this week?’ I said, ‘Who knows? That could come up.’ It kind of got blown out of proportion, but in all honesty, every single time you play you have that. Even my own son who is in high school – I read where ESPN rated him the 73rd rated football player in the country this year. He was the 10th-rated middle linebacker in the country. All of the sudden he graduated early and is at Virginia Tech now - I told him every single time he played, after the ball game I want you to make sure every player that played against you remembers your number, remembers your name and if they can’t, it’s because you knocked the memory out of them. That’s how good defensive players play. He took that to heart and even made sure that some of the coaches that voted against him for some of the things that they would remember him after games, that they would remember him after games. It’s just kind of a thing from an aggressive nature, from a fun-loving nature that all defensive guys have about them and I’m sure most competitors do too.”

(on how big of a story his comments to Bishop became)
“I was a little surprised that it took off, but in that respect it didn’t bother me because it’s true. I do believe that. I do believe that I want our players to play hard. I don’t want them to have any apologies. I tell them all the time…I told my kids when I was the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, ‘I don’t ever want you to apologize to anybody at any time about being a competitor. When you have to apologize about being competitive, I’ll be down there at the principal’s office. I’ll go down to the school board. I’ll go to whoever I need to,’ because that’s what pushes our life. That’s what pushes successful people. They want to compete and the fact that you’re going to be competitive and be tough about doing those things, I don’t know what I should have said. Maybe I should have said that we’re going to blow him kisses or send him a Valentine Day card or something like that. I don’t know that that would have been the right message to send the defensive guys that I have.”

(on if his bosses took issue with his comments)
“No, they all know. It’s just part of it. It was tongue in cheek. In fact, Blaine has been more worried about it. Blaine is texting me and called me a couple times apologizing thinking I may be dog cussing him about it. I said, ‘Blaine, don’t worry about that. That was just you and I having a good time on the radio.’”

(on the ‘gift’ Sean Payton sent him at breakfast Tuesday)
“The poor waiter came over to the table at brunch this morning and gave me two big jars of peanut butter, saltine crackers and a glass full of sand to wash it down with. Maybe if I took all that stuff down I might be able to keep my mouth shut and not say something at media day that will haunt him all week long like I did last week.”

(on the importance of hitting the quarterback)
“I don’t know what that stat is. (Linebackers coach) Joe Vitt shows a lot of different stats on the night before the games and he speaks to the team the night before the games. We’ve been in the top one, two and we never have fallen below three this year on hits on the quarterback through the whole year. When you hit the quarterback, the whole team feels it in that respect and when you hit the quarterback and/or cause the quarterback to do things a little off rhythm, then you affect the offense from a rhythm standpoint. I always say this tongue and cheek: when you go watch practice - and I was a quarterback, I was an offensive coordinator for 10 years, too – they want to practice on air. Well, the game’s not played on air. The game is played with contact. The game is played with changing the routes, hitting the linemen, hitting the quarterbacks. All of those things have the defense have a chance to be successful if you can go to the head of the offense, the quarterback, and make him get off rhythm. If you can get him off rhythm, you’ve got a chance. Not many people do that with Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning is probably I think the best in the National Football League…he’s been the best in the last four or five years on not letting people getting to him, so we’ve got our work cut out for us this week.”

(on Manning ‘laying down’ sometimes to avoid hits)
"“And you know what? That’s not bad. A lot of people would say, ‘Maybe that’s not tough.’ I don’t perceive it (that way). He understands that he’s the lifeblood of that football team and without him being on the field, their chances of winning go down. I’m not saying anything bad about the backup quarterbacks or anything like that, but he understands that. Also, it’s easier to get back up and throw one at you when you’re not suffering the bruises and the pain and everything of getting driven into the ground. He’s learned that throughout a lot of years. That again shows how smart he is. I wish he was a little dumber and I wish he would stand in there and take some of those hits, but that’s not what he does. It’s pretty smart on his part.”

(on the Super Bowl platform allowing people to discover how colorful and animated he is)
“Probably, but I’ve been doing this a long time and for a lot of years. I really don’t fake who I am. When you stand in front of the players and you stand in front of warriors every day, you can’t be a fake and you can’t be a con. They can smell you out. You can be whoever you want to be as long as they trust you’re being sincere. They’ve always appreciated the fact that I’m in the foxhole with them. We coach aggressive, we coach nasty. I told them from the first day no matter where I go that, ‘All your life you’ve had coaches where you’ve had an excuse to where they slow you down, they don’t let you play the way you want to play. You’re not going to have that excuse here. All my life I’ve been trying to speed people up. I’ve been trying to get people to play tougher, get people to play nastier so you’re not going to have that excuse here.’ They’ve jumped on the bandwagon and they’ve taken the ball and run with it. This is a real fun group of guys to coach. This group was here before I got here. There are only a couple of additions that we’ve brought in here, but the approach and the culture and the philosophy and all those type of things have changed. I met for three weeks with the new coaching staff that I inherited and never once said one thing about X’s and O’s for the first three weeks. We did the same thing with our players once we first got a chance to meet with our players. There are a lot of things from discipline, there are a lot of things from a foundation, a trustworthiness and a team camaraderie-ness before we got to X’s and O’s. Once those things got ingrained, the rest of the stuff kind of fell in place.”

(on Colts OL coach Howard Mudd)
“He’s one of the all-time bests at that position. I can remember going to a high school clinic back when I was a high school coach in Kansas City and he was the offensive line coach for Marty Schottenheimer and the first time I ever heard anybody talk about the inside and the outside zone. It was Howard Mudd back in the mid 1980’s. It was kind of a unique thing on how he was teaching the footwork and the whole zone blocking concept. I never forgot that. In fact I just ran across those notes in my file this week. Every single time I play the Colts or wherever he’s at, I’ve always pulled those notes out. I was speaking that day, he was speaking that day. I was a high school coach, he was a pro coach. Those notes still hold true.”

(on coming within a yard of winning a Super Bowl as Titans defensive coordinator)
“It was 10 years (ago) to this game. It was a tough experience. I’ve never seen that game or watched that game on TV. Every time it comes on I shut it off. People say, ‘Why do you do that?’ Well, I was there. I saw it. I felt it. I would like that to not happen again. There have been a couple of vows that you take and you leave those settings and you say, ‘Is there something else I could have done? Is there another thing I could have helped the guys with.’ That’s kind of spurred on these last 10 years. It’s made me a better coach in a lot of ways, but I will tell you this: it’s a memory that I’ll never forget in respect of coming that short to having a chance to get into overtime. The tide had turned. We had all the momentum in the world. We just couldn’t get it there and get it done.”

(on beating Kurt Warner to get to the Super Bowl this year)
“I’ve had several games against him in years since that game (Super Bowl XXXIV) and every time we’ve competed since that game, we’ve talked about that game. In fact, the very next year we went to training camp in Macomb, Illinois and went through three practices that week. All three practices were fistfights, remembering that one yard short. Some of those guys were trying to back off and felt like it was a game in practice because we had a (ticked) off approach about how we were practicing. We had a preseason game against (the Rams) that year right after it happened and just kind of demolished them. They still have the one that counts.”

(on his desire to draft Drew Brees when Williams was the head coach in Buffalo)
“I might still be there because he’s an important part of that puzzle. He can take an average receiver, he can take an average tight end, he can take an average offensive tackle, and he controls the whole thing. He’s amazing how he can take people and make them better. I always believe this: the mark of someone exceptional at this level is playing exceptional yourself but raising the level of performance around you. The Magic Johnsons, the Michael Jordans, the Drew Breeses, the Peyton Mannings, those kinds of guys can take average guys and make them look pretty doggone good because of their own skill level and their own intuitiveness of playing the game. Drew Brees could have done that and he would have been special to some of those offensive skill guys we had up there. We turned the defense over and we made the defense pretty good when I was there.”

(on watching Peyton Manning’s performance against the Dolphins this year)
“It doesn’t let you sleep at night. I tried to watch that game early in my preparation because I wouldn’t have slept the rest of the two weeks in this preparation because Tony Sparano and the Dolphins did just a phenomenal job of doing everything they needed to do to keep the ball away from the guy and he was able to win the game. Those kinds of things, we’ve researched every game all the way back into games I coached against him in Buffalo, games I coached against him at Tennessee. I go back and look at all those games. You know why I do that? He’s such a pro that I know he is too. I know he is, so it forces me. He’s one of the best pros I’ve ever been around. Peyton and I have a good friendship. We really do. We care about what each other thinks about each other. For instance, when we (Jacksonville) beat them up there last year, we were able to get some hits on him and that kind of stuff. We talked after the game and he wasn’t in a real good mood after the game. After the second game down there, we really played pretty good defense. He had a 140 quarterback rating. He ran over to me like a little puppy dog. He couldn’t wait to talk to me after that game that he had just won. My first words out of my mouth were, ‘What? What do you want me to say? Are you waiting for me to say something nice?’ He starts laughing. I told him this, I said, ‘That’s the best game I’ve ever coached against you that you’ve played. You played lights out in that ballgame.’ And you know what? He did.”

(on Manning throwing three touchdowns in six plays against Williams’ Bills)
“Bam, bam, bam. I know. We did the same thing with the Redskins. We went over there and we had a depleted roster. We were really in the thick of it and all of the sudden, the first five minutes of the third quarter, it was ‘bam, bam.’ Then they got nothing the rest of the game but it was over with. That’s how fast he can do damage. We can’t take a play off. We can’t take one play off.”

(on changing the attitude of the Saints’ defense)
"It’s an everyday thing. You don’t turn attitude on like a light switch. You don’t take discipline and turn it on like a light switch. It was a culture shock to them from the very first meeting. My aggressive demeanor in the meetings, making them defend themselves with explanations and demonstrations on the field. Every single time we stepped on the field of play in practice, it’s been a game. We had to turn that scout team mentality there on defense. I’ve joked with Sean about this, because a lot of times offensive head coaches want the defense to play scout team in practice. You don’t get better on defense that way. You get worse on defense that way. We had to attack our offense. We had to challenge our offense, and we made our offense better because they had a tough time dealing with us this spring. Everything was a thing where it was a step-by-step process. The thing that spoke volumes about these guys was every single time that I gave them a challenge, every single time that I tried to break them… Buddy Ryan would say, ‘Some of these thoroughbreds, you’ve got to break them before you bridle them.’ I tried to break their spirits and make them do physically unbelievable things from up-downs and running sprints and all these things for semi-attention deficit disorder mistakes they were making. It made them stronger. When things don’t break you in times of easiness, then they find out they become stronger later on. I tell them all the time, ‘When you bleed more in times of peace, you’re going to bleed less in times of war.’ They kind of paid the price in minicamp, OTAs and training camp. It was remarkable to see the leaders come back and say, ‘We want more.’ When they started that swagger and attitude back at me, I knew I had them. Now I have to manage them, and that’s not easy. Our motto has been live on the edge, play on the edge, never hurt the team.”



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