Williams Keeps A Brave Face

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 1, 2006

On a personal level, when Redskins Park is in the rearview mirror and he allows his gruff coaching exterior to relax, Gregg Williams had to be stung when an anonymous player ripped his coaching style and defensive strategies in a story on ESPN.com last weekend.

But if Williams, who is paid more than some head coaches, has been bothered by the player's comments, he isn't letting it show. A fierce and demanding presence who is not inclined to reveal any weakness or much public emotion beyond his exhortations from the sideline on game day, he saves introspection for home, for quiet moments with family or halftime chats during his daughter's high school basketball games, those close to him say.

It obviously helped that his players delivered their best performance of the season Sunday, shutting down the Carolina Panthers using the same coaching tactics that were criticized in the article. And he has little time to dwell on anything other than preparing for quarterback Michael Vick, with Washington's slim playoff hopes on the line.

Still, sources close to Williams say he was hurt by accusations that his team had quit on him. With the Redskins (4-7) facing a big game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Williams was not in an expansive mood yesterday during his weekly session with the media.

"I'm not talking about that article," Williams said.

The unidentified player questioned Williams's tactics, techniques and personality, but the coach has changed nothing about his approach this week, players and coaches said. Williams has maintained that while he has failed to call the right play on occasion and hasn't made the best adjustments in the second half of games, the success of his defense depends on execution during games. Before Sunday, the Redskins, who have the highest payroll in the NFL, routinely dropped possible interceptions, missed open-field tackles and committed costly penalties.

Williams says that when players follow the system, make tackles, hold onto potential interceptions and play with passion -- as they did in the 17-13 victory over Carolina -- they will win more often than they lose.

"It's nice to be able to get a W after how hard you work," Williams said.

Nor did Williams address the matter with his defense, team sources said. The defensive players discussed the ESPN story at a players-only meeting, team sources said, agreeing to put it behind them, and did not anticipate any changes. Some said that to do so would invite failure ("Gregg is who he is," one veteran said, "and he's had a lot of success doing what he does.").

"He hasn't changed and he shouldn't change," veteran defensive back Troy Vincent said.

The unidentified player was also critical of Williams for allegedly allowing safeties and cornerbacks to meet separately for the first time this season. But the coach said assertions that his meeting routines are "unprecedented" are "incorrect."

"I've been doing this for a long time and we're meeting the same way we've been meeting for a long time," Williams said. "They're two different positions and I've been doing those for a long time on a lot of different staffs and Buddy Ryan's staffs. You do that. Everybody looks for time to get their position coach, and then there's combination times when the entire defense meets."

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