Gregg Williams: His Path To The Saints Had a Strange Twist

Randy SavoieAnalyst IIFebruary 20, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07:  Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (C) of the New Orleans Saints talks with Jonathan Vilma #51 (L) and Roman Harper #41 (R) on the field prior to Super Bowl XLIV against the Indianapolis Colts on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

How could you have known on that day back in December of 2006 in the Superdome that you were auditioning for your future boss Sean Payton?

Funny how this damned business works. Everything seems to come full circle.

You had always been a thorn in his side and this day was no exception. The New Orleans Saints were flying high and fresh off one of their most impressive offensive performances in franchise history, a 42-17 victory against the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas no less.

The Saints were 9 and 4, putting up 30 points a game and you were the defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins, who were going no where fast under Joe Gibbs at 4 and 9 late in the season.

You were supposed to be just another victim in this Saints improbable post-Katrina Super Bowl run directed by rookie head coach Sean Payton and first-year QB Drew Brees. Brees looked like the G*d damned second coming or something, throwing for all those yards and touchdowns and how in the hell were you gonna stop this oncoming train the media in D.C. asked.

You never liked those son-of-a-bitches anyway.

You were running on empty. The last place team in the NFC East. All the media pricks at the Washington Post said the game had passed your boss Joe Gibbs by. About all you had left at that point was pride as you traveled to New Orleans to face that unsolvable, pyrotechnic Saints offense.

But you did indeed solve Drew Brees and Sean Payton that day.

You employed your trademark aggressive, unorthodox scheme, and you confused the hell out of the Saints at times along the line of scrimmage.

You stopped the Saints on first-down, something no other defense had done all year. In the fourth quarter, you held Brees to one completion for 15 yards and sacked him once and intercepted him once and, well, generally made life miserable for him all day long.

As the final second ticked off the Superdome clock, your defensive unit held the Saints offense to season lows in points (10) and yardage (270). Brees was an steady but unspectacular 21 of 28 for 207 yards with one interception and no touchdowns.

Your boss Joe Gibbs credited you with with creating a gameplan that halted the league's most dangerous offense in its tracks. In their previous three games the Saints were averaging 35 points and almost 450 yards a game.

Despite the loss, the Saints clinched the NFC South that day but Brees was in no mood to celebrate.

"I won't be celebrating at all tonight, in case your wondering," Brees told reporters following the game. "I have the (championship) shirt, and have the hat in my bag. And I'll go home and put 'em in my closet."

You were hardly a favorite of Sean Payton or Drew Brees or Saints fans that day.

Yeah it sure is funny how time changes things. Heals all wounds.

Three years later, Payton decided if you can't beat 'em, join 'em and hired you as his defensive coordinator despite the fact that you came from a rival coaching clan.

You from the Ryan family. Payton from the Parcells tree.

Hardly drinking buddies were the two of you but you said thirty minutes into your interview with Sean Payton you knew the two of you were kindred spirits and this is where you wanted to be.

Payton said it would be foolish to only hire people who think exactly the way you do.

Maybe Lincoln had it right afterall with that "Team of Rivals" approach of his.

Brees and Payton have long forgiven what you did to them that day in the Superdome.

And as your list of accomplishments grows—you've shut down the game's two best, Brees and Payton in the last four years—one can only wonder how much longer you will remain in New Orleans.

But for now, you're Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator of the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, and that second head coaching opportunity which will eventually come, can wait for now.

But when it does come you will leave with Sean Payton's blessings. One brother glad for the success of another.

You said you are not a savior, but as far as Saints partisans are concerned these days you're the next best thing to one.


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