- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pity the quarterback who has to face the defense of the unbeaten New Orleans Saints at FedEx Field.

Gregg Williams, the former defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins who now holds the same job for the Saints, returns to the area Sunday to face his old team.

And, the Redskins think, he’s coming back with a grudge - a grudge that mostly will be taken out on quarterback Jason Campbell.

“Gregg’s always fired up, but he really gonna want to beat the Redskins because he feels like he should be the head coach here,” defensive end Phillip Daniels said. “He gonna bring everybody. I wouldn’t want to be Jason on Sunday.”

Williams expected to be promoted to head coach of the Redskins when Joe Gibbs retired in January 2008. He had put together three top-10 defenses in four years and had the support of the majority of the players to succeed Gibbs in the top spot. But not only wasn’t Williams promoted, he was fired by owner Dan Snyder and front office boss Vinny Cerrato.

“He’s coming back with probably a little bit of vengeance,” Campbell said with a knowing smile. “I know I’m the prey. I’m going to have to text him, ‘Hey. I had nothing to do with it, Coach. Me and you was good people together.’ He’ll probably laugh a little bit.”

The Redskins defenders who played for Williams, one of the most aggressive coaches in the NFL, know their old boss won’t be laughing.

Williams, they expect, will make Campbell, who already has been sacked 30 times this season behind an injury-riddled line, a substitute pinata for Snyder and Cerrato.

Williams will be “coming in here to destroy us,” just as he did his previous employers when they played the Redskins, defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander said.

Despite Williams’ myriad blitzes, New Orleans is tied for 10th in the league in sacks with 26. However, no team comes close to the Saints’ 22 interceptions or 32 turnovers. And they’ve taken a league-best seven takeaways to the house.

“Before he got here, everyone looked at our defense as a poor stepchild… to our offense,” Saints safety Darren Sharper said. “We wanted to change that mentality. Gregg preached… that we’re not going to play second fiddle to anyone. That we were going to play an aggressive style of defense and that it’s going to take accountability, a lot of hard work and conditioning, that we were going to do things that we might not be accustomed to doing like getting to the football and stripping the football each and every play. And guys have bought in.”

That has been the case almost everywhere Williams has gone in his rise from position coach in Houston to coordinator in Tennessee to coach in Buffalo to defensive boss in Washington, Jacksonville and now New Orleans.

“What makes Gregg different is his attack mentality at all times,” said Redskins middle linebacker London Fletcher, who ran Williams’ defense in Buffalo and Washington. “He believes in pressure, pressure, pressure, a tremendous amount of pressure, create chaos. Never let the offense dictate to you. You’re always going to dictate to them. [Our] offense has to be ready for what they do especially when they’re playing with a lead, which they’ve been doing so much. That allows them to really bring the pressure.”

Williams also puts plenty of pressure on his own players. If they weren’t running sprints or performing up-downs, they were enduring high-volume, expletive-filled harangues.

“As a rookie, I’m like, ‘Is that even legal to say that?’ ” defensive tackle Kedric Golston remembered with a chuckle.

Said cornerback Carlos Rogers: “He’ll cuss you out, but on Sunday, that’s the guy you want to lay it on the line for.”

Safety Reed Doughty will never forget the first words he heard from Williams after the Redskins chose him in the sixth round of the 2006 draft.

“He said, ‘Are you in shape?’ ” Doughty said. “I said, ‘Yep.’ He said, ‘Great, because I’m going to make you puke.’ That’s my one shining moment, and he wanted to see if I’m in shape. I knew it was going to be tough.”

Despite that critical and profane persona, Williams’ aggressive style and success endeared him to his players and assistants.

Safety Pierson Prioleau has followed Williams from Buffalo to Washington to Jacksonville to New Orleans. Cornerback Leigh Torrence played for him in Washington and New Orleans. Defensive tackle Joe Salave’a played for Williams in Tennessee and Washington.

And Redskins assistants Jerry Gray, Steve Jackson and Danny Smith were on his staff when he was the Bills’ coach. Gray also worked for Williams in Tennessee.

“I loved playing for Gregg,” defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin said. “He’s a fighter. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around. With the Giants, I was this, I was that. Gregg gave me the opportunity I needed.”

On Sunday, Williams gets the opportunity he has waited 23 months for. And Snyder and Cerrato are lucky they won’t be wearing Redskins uniforms.

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