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WILLIAMS: After Four Years and Four Interviews, He's 'Released'

Assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams, left, here with defensive line coach Greg Blache, center, and Coach Joe Gibbs, molded the Redskins into the 8th-ranked defense in the NFL.
Assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams, left, here with defensive line coach Greg Blache, center, and Coach Joe Gibbs, molded the Redskins into the 8th-ranked defense in the NFL. (By Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)
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"He's my idol. . . . What I've learned in patience and how to deal with people and those things -- how to build relationships -- have been invaluable and will always be invaluable to me and will directly relate to my experiences with Joe Gibbs. With all that being said and done, all Redskins know we are a very close-knit family and that comes from people like Joe Gibbs and me and I feel tremendously proud that I have had an opportunity to work with Joe Gibbs. I just wish it could have been longer."

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Williams spoke to Snyder and Executive Vice President Vinny Cerrato about those allegations during the meeting yesterday, "perplexed as to the origin of the smear," Demoff said.

"Both Snyder and Cerrato agreed that [any disrespecting of Gibbs] had never occurred and told Gregg that those reports were totally false," Demoff said. "They wished each other well in the future and the sides parted."

After his fourth interview Jan. 15, Williams's uncertainty grew when he heard nothing from Snyder and Cerrato while other candidates were being brought in for interviews. Williams intended to withdraw from the process Tuesday, Demoff said. But Gibbs urged Williams to remain in the race during conversations on Thursday and Friday, Demoff said. After the reports Friday, Williams strongly considered withdrawing later that night and into yesterday morning, but did not. He spoke to several players and assistants before meeting with Snyder at his office at Redskins Park for a 15-minute conversation in the afternoon.

Shortly after the meeting, the team released a statement announcing his departure.

Williams led the defense to top-10 ratings in three of his four seasons here and the defense was the backbone of the second Gibbs era as the offense struggled for consistency. But Snyder and Cerrato told associates of their displeasure with Williams as the defense sank to 31st in 2006 after the signing of free agent bust Adam Archuleta at safety. Williams simplified and streamlined his system last season, and influenced the signing of linebacker London Fletcher, after which the unit rebounded to finish ranked eighth despite star safety Sean Taylor's slaying in November.

Several players said Williams was a unifying presence, forging relationships with players on both sides of the ball. Eccentric running back Clinton Portis was drawn to him and he was a driving force behind the establishment of the team's leadership council as well. Williams inspired players in the days and weeks following Taylor's death and helped change the culture in Washington, with the defense notorious for lackadaisical and individualistic play in previous years.

"I think Gregg would make a great head coach, and he has the respect of the players and always produces a strong defense," quarterback Mark Brunell said. "He's wasn't just a defensive guy. He talked to all the guys and had good friendships with a lot of guys on offense.

"He's great to talk to and likable and all the guys know he's a good coach. He gets a lot out of his players and pushes them and you're going to work. There's no nonsense when it comes to football. He's a true professional, and I think every guy would tell you the same thing."


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