All sorts of reasons are offered to suggest that the Washington Redskins will make a game of it against the undefeated New Orleans Saints.
The Redskins have played well of late even in losses, holding the Cowboys, for example, to just seven points.
The Redskins have the seventh-ranked defense in the NFL and the second-ranked pass defense.
The Saints are set up for a letdown after their impressive 38-17 win over New England.
The Saints, coming off a Monday night game, have a short workweek.
The Saints won’t be playing in the comfort of the Superdome, forced instead to compete in 40-degree weather at FedEx Field.
But here’s the single most important reason the Saints will dominate and destroy the Redskins on Sunday: Gregg Williams.
You can’t underestimate the grudge factor for a man as passionate as Williams, the former Redskins defensive coordinator who now holds the same job for the Saints.
“Gregg’s always fired up, but he really is going to want to beat the Redskins because he feels like he should be the head coach here,” defensive end Phillip Daniels said. “He going to bring everybody. I wouldn’t want to be Jason on Sunday.”
It’s not just that he was passed over for the head coaching job two years ago when Joe Gibbs left, a job for which everyone believed he was the heir apparent.
It also is a matter of who the Redskins decided to hire instead - Jim Zorn.
To lose the job is one thing. To lose it to someone Williams clearly could outcoach is another.
The Redskins’ players like Zorn. He is a decent man who doesn’t ask much of them, and they have responded by playing hard.
But this is something you likely will never hear any Redskins player say about him: “He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around.” Those words instead were spoken by defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin about Williams, his former boss on the Redskins’ defense.
There is no way Williams won’t have his troops fired up to exact revenge - and to a degree far greater than any other coach that Daniel Snyder has wronged.
A number of former head coaches and assistants have come back to get their piece of revenge against the Redskins.
Some, like Mike Nolan, the Redskins defensive coordinator in 1999, failed. Nolan leads the defense of the Broncos, who lost to the Redskins 27-17 earlier this season.
Others - Al Saunders, Terry Robiskie, Marty Schottenheimer - succeeded.
Former Redskins coach Norv Turner is 3-0 against his former team as both a head coach and a coordinator. Most notably, Turner’s awful Raiders team upset the playoff-bound Redskins at FedEx Field in 2005.
Turner probably had more of a grievance than any ex-Redskins coach that Washington has faced under Snyder - until now. Turner was known for his placid demeanor. Williams, on the other hand, is legendary for his temper and volatile personality. And while Turner was five years removed from the Redskins when he won his revenge game, Williams is just two years removed.
That means, in addition to the grievance being fresh, Williams still knows the tendencies of most of the Redskins players and some of the coaches. Jerry Gray and Greg Blache, for example, both worked for Williams.
“He’s coming back with probably a little bit of vengeance,” quarterback Jason Campbell said.
A little bit?
Do you really think Gregg Williams will allow his defense to lose to Jim Zorn and his chaotic committee of play callers?
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