CLEVELAND (AP) — Gregg Williams talked tough.
Now he has to get the Browns to play that way.
Cleveland’s new defensive coordinator made quite a first impression during a fiery, 48-minute introductory news conference Thursday in which the former Buffalo head coach vowed to bring out the best in his players but refused to address his NFL suspension.
Williams, who spent the past three seasons overseeing the Rams’ defense, addressed topics ranging from his passion for coaching to his respectful relationship with Browns coach Hue Jackson during his meeting with reporters at the team’s facility.
However, the 58-year-old would not discuss the one-year league ban imposed on him for his role in the notorious “Bountygate” scandal with the New Orleans Saints. Williams and head coach Sean Payton were suspended by Commissioner Roger Goodell for the entire 2012 season for allegedly offering to pay players bonuses for injuring opposing players.
Following eight minutes of remarks, Williams opened the floor to questions and was immediately asked about his suspension.
“Yeah, we’re not here to talk about that,” said Williams, who wore the diamond-laden Super Bowl ring he won with the Saints to the news conference. “What else do you want to talk about?”
Williams didn’t waste any time in describing how he wants to fix the Browns, whose bottom-feeding defense played a major role in the team’s 1-15 record in 2016. Buffalo’s coach from 2001 to 2003, Williams said that teaching players drives him.
“I could be doing a lot of different things in life other than coaching, but I love coaching, and I love mentoring young men,” he said. “I love coaching at this level. I’m happiest during the season. I’m happiest when I’m in the office. I’m happiest of all time when I’m in between the white lines competing. A beer or two, no tobacco, no prescriptions hardly at all, but I don’t mind saying this: I’m a competition-aholic, and it’ll be from practice to meetings to games, love to compete.
“There’s a lot of things here that we’ve got to stir the emotions and stir the culture on being more competitive, and then once we’re more competitive maybe we’re lucky enough to be in the position to win. But we have to be able to compete first.”
Williams was let go in Los Angeles shortly after the Rams fired Jeff Fisher. He said one of the main reasons he came to Cleveland was to work with Jackson, a coach he matched wits against for years.
Williams won’t commit to a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme because he prefers to use multiple formations. One thing he did commit to is getting his players to be physical.
“From an attitude standpoint, they’re never going to play for anybody that’s going to let them play more attacking, more physical, more aggressive than me. I’ll back them up,” he said. “I’ve only coached two or three guys in the league that I’ve ever had to put my hand on and back up. My whole life I’ve been trying to speed up your decisions and speed up your toughness and get you to play harder, get you to play tougher, get you to play meaner, and so that will be the way.”
Williams also went out of his way to rile up Cleveland’s fans, saying on previous visits as an opponent that he was treated rudely.
“Back a long time ago in the late ’80s and early ’90s when I got in the league, I’ve been hit from the Dawg Pound by transistor batteries, size D and C batteries, dog biscuits, dog bones, beer cans, beer bottles, and I can’t wait to be on their side now. And I say that with respect. I love them.”