- Asked if Cleveland would be switching to a 4-3 base under his watch, Gregg Williams didn't hesitate to shut down that line of thinking.
"Nope," the new Browns defensive coordinator said. "We're Cleveland-based."
Shortly after Williams was hired, Browns coach Hue Jackson lauded the veteran coordinator for his ability to adapt to the personnel he inherits. Though the Rams played out of a 4-3 a decent amount of time during his three years with the team, Williams had the group learn and utilize multiple, different formations.
"I have 42 words that add up to the 11 that trot out to the field. You guys that have studied me before, we'll play 4-3 and 3-4 in the same game. 3-3, 3-2, 4-1, 4-2, bear, big on five down, big on six down, big on more linebackers, little on more DB's. I have 42 packages of defense," Williams said. "Now everywhere I go, I don't do them all. What it is, coaches sit in a room and we waste so much time wondering what the word is. I have the words already. I've been doing it for so long. So boom, this 11 guys, boom this 11 guys trot out there."
The nature of the competition Cleveland is poised to face six times a year in the AFC North will have an effect, too.
"I'm also not afraid to make sure all of the other people are going to have to work on things that I'm never going to call," Williams said. "They've got to practice all week long on 4-3, 3-4, 2-2, all of that kind of stuff, and I'm not even going to do it next week. So that's OK, too."
- Over the past week, Williams said he's heard from a number of current Browns defensive players and had a few pop by his office for an introduction. He's watched five or six games from last season but admits he won't know what he truly has until he sees them on the practice field.
"In all honesty, I may not watch another clip and I do not care," Williams said. "Until I get a chance to be in the meeting room with them, talk, move around, get on the field with them, that is when the true evaluation is made. One of the things is that I have never complained to one head coach, to one owner, to one GM about a guy I get to coach. Never. Now, do not get offended on how I have to coach him. I have to find a way to get him to work, and if he got in the door at this level he has a skillset.
"I can only affect what mom and dad gave him in the gene pool about that much, and how I do that is not accept what mom and dad says has been alright their whole life. I have to butt their head up against the cap of what the genes say that they can do and can't do."
- Williams joked about his run-ins with Browns fans throughout his career and expressed a sense of excitement about being the beneficiary of all the havoc the Dawg Pound can wreak on opposing teams.
"I can't wait to be on their side now," Williams said. "I say that with respect. I love them. I love the fact that when I came into the stadium, about how loud they were, how much fun they had coming to the games and how much they loved the Cleveland Browns. When we have home field advantage it is because we can flat play some defense. Everybody came to watch that defense rock and roll."
- Asked to describe his defense, Williams needed a few minutes. It was a simple question that deserved a complex answer.
Ultimately, though, it comes down to six words. "Find ball, see ball, get ball."
"We are find ball, see ball, get ball, and if you aren't around the ball when it is over with and we are in our end zone shot, you are probably moving into the broadcast booth, moving into the beer vendor's booth, moving into helping the guy hold the down markers on the sideline," Williams said. "I have already talked with Hue and (Owner Jimmy Haslam) – I can't cut them, but as long as I am here I am going to decide who plays on defense."
- Williams described the recent staff changes on the defensive side of the ball as a collaborative effort between himself and Jackson, both of whom interviewed the candidates.
Of the five new hires Cleveland announced Thursday, four are on defense -- defensive line coach Clyde Simmons, linebackers coach Blake Williams, defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker and assistant defensive backs coach Jerod Kruse.
"I've gone places by myself before. But he believed, and I believe too, is that the familiarity with some of these people that have come in here with me -- some of them have played for me and some of them have coached for me in other places and been with me or things -- the learning curve for them is brief," Williams said. "For some of them, it is just a reminder. They say, 'Uh oh, I forgot Gregg acted that way.' Yeah, I still act that way and we're still going to do this. That helps to hopefully hit the ground running when the players get back in here."