It is going to take a lot more than just four wins to get the Tennessee Titans back to the playoffs.
Roughly seven months before the start of the season, though, Gregg Williams’ focus was on just four Ws.
What. Where. Who. Win.
“The four W’s of life are very important to me on what I do from now on in the rest of my career, and that’s ‘What am I doing? Where is it at? Who’s it with? And (is there) the ability to win?’” he said. “And the ‘Who is it with?’ is very important to me.”
After a year away from the NFL due to a suspension for his role in a pay-for-injury program while defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints, Williams was introduced as Thursday as the Titans senior assistant/defense.
The move, which followed his reinstatement early in the day, returned him to the franchise with which he began his career as an NFL assistant and reunited him with Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray. The two worked together with the Titans when Williams was defensive coordinator, in Buffalo when Williams was a head coach and again in Washington D.C. when Williams once again was a defensive coordinator.
He expressed great respect for Gray, whose defense allowed more points than any other in the NFL last season. That had a lot to do with the fact that Tennessee missed the postseason for the fourth straight year, its longest drought since the franchise relocated from Houston.
Neither got specific, though, on how their partnership would work and – only when pressed – head coach Mike Munchak said Gray once again would make the defense calls during games.
“We’ve worked side-by-side,” Williams said of Gray. “We’ve worked in every capacity. He understands that I value his opinion, and guess what, through years of trust; he kind of values my opinion. … The fact that I’m having a chance to work with these guys, who I know -- when I talked about ‘Who’s it with?’ that’s very important if you’re going to try to do something special. I’m excited about working with Jerry and with Munch, but really working with Jerry on the defensive side of the ball.”
Williams spent 11 seasons with the Titans. His first was 1990 as a quality control assistant, a position he held for three years. His last was defensive coordinator, which he had for the last four seasons.
In his final season with the franchise Tennessee led the league in total defense and were second only to the Baltimore Ravens in points allowed. Four times in 12 years as a coordinator with four different franchises his defense has finished in the top 10 for fewest points allowed.
He stressed, though, that he returns to the league and the team as a different coach.
“One of the things that I’ve always chosen to do is take any type of a situation and turn it into an opportunity to improve,” he said. “One of the things that I really did this [last] year was focus on as many self-improvement things as I could. It was a great study year. It was a great year to lose a lot of weight and get back healthy. It was a great year to travel. … It was a good year that way. Anytime you’re as passionate and love something as much as I do this, you appreciate it even more when you come back.”
Munchak, who acknowledged that his own job is at stake following a 6-10 record in 2012, certainly was glad to have him back.
“I have known Gregg for a long time and I feel like this is where he grew up in the coaching world with the Oilers/Titans,” he said. “What better place for him to come back to for his second opportunity after making some mistakes to recharge his career going forward. I know how much he loves the game and how much he wants to be a part of it.
“We felt this was a great opportunity for us and for him to grow together and kind of get through this thing together. He came in here and he knows a lot of the people that are here, which I think is helpful. He knows we are going to do things the right way and he knows how we do things. I think he knows changes have to be made maybe the way he has done things in the past, but I think we are on the same page. I think we are excited about the opportunity and I know our staff is.”
Now they all just need a few more Ws.