By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 16, 2006
Gregg Williams had stayed away from his longtime friend all week, then raced across the field the moment the final whistle blew yesterday and gave him a midfield hug. Williams, the Washington Redskins' assistant head coach-defense, came into the NFL 12 years ago on the same staff as Tennessee Coach Jeff Fisher, and they have remained close but put their kinship on hold whenever their teams play.
After avoiding one another for seven days and eschewing their usual weekly phone conversations, they are free to share information again after the Titans' 25-22 win at FedEx Field.
For Williams, the end of their conversational embargo could not be better timed, as the stumbling Redskins (2-4) and his slumping defense face a stern task at Indianapolis next week. The Colts are a Super Bowl contender Fisher plays twice a season and nearly beat a week ago.
Let the scouting begin.
"We'll talk a little bit more this week on some of those things," Williams said after the loss. "We'll even do some self scouting -- the [tendencies] they had on us and the [tendencies] we had on them and try to help out a little bit. I'll talk to him about Indy maybe even before he heads out of here."
They shared a brief postgame exchange amid the maze of bodies that flood the field, and Williams hoped to find Fisher before the Titans's bus left the stadium but was unable to. He will glean as much as possible from Fisher this week, however, with the Redskins conceding downfield plays at an alarming rate and the Colts, with Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning, perhaps the premier big-play offense in the NFL.
Fisher's defense stymied Indianapolis in Week 5 before falling, 14-13, at the RCA Dome. The Titans limited Manning to 166 yards passing and held future Hall of Fame wide receiver Marvin Harrison to three catches for 29 yards (Washington entered this game ranked 24th against the pass and in need of all the help it can get).
That loss in Indianapolis was a confidence-builder for the Titans, and they finally put together a winning performance yesterday after an 0-5 start.
"It took us longer to get here than we thought," Fisher said, "but they work hard and you can't ask for anything more."
Williams and Fisher share a mentor -- Buddy Ryan, architect of the Chicago Bears' famed 1985 defense -- and they approach their craft similarly. Both were on Ryan's staff in Houston in the early 1990s. Fisher stayed with the organization as it moved to Tennessee and became head coach.
Williams was his defensive coordinator before leaving to become head coach in Buffalo for three years. He joined Washington in 2004.
Williams, who usually heads straight off the field in victory or defeat, was happy to see his buddy's effort rewarded, although perturbed with the outcome.
"After a ballgame I go [directly] into the locker room, but he and I have been through a lot of battles together," Williams said. "It's been tough on him, and I hate [that] the opportunity to win one came against us, but I just wanted to make sure I was in there."