Gregg Williams sees Browns defense going 'above and beyond' in quest for change

Earlier this spring, Browns cornerback Joe Haden revealed to news reporters how new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was quick to make a strong, if not nerve-racking, first impression.

"When I first got here and I met him, I went up to his office and we talked for a while, just about my toughness and about the biggest thing he told me was, 'If you didn't play through your injury I would tell them to get you out of here,'" Haden said then. "So he was in my face as soon as I met him."

When presented with that conversation after Thursday's minicamp practice — the final session before the Browns break for summer — Williams offered a wide smile.

"Here's what I'll tell you, let's just cut to the chase: I'm selling football. If you don't get people to listen to you, you're not going to sell anything," he said. "I'm selling, I think I got his attention, OK? And that's all it is. There's lots of ways to go pat you on the back and that hasn't worked here. So why would we be surprised that all of the sudden we gotta do something different."

That tough-love approach from Williams has left its mark thus far. That is, after all, why second-year head coach Hue Jackson tapped the fiery 27-year veteran in January to mold a young but promising defense that struggled last season.

"My job is to effect change," he said. "If you can't effect change then you gotta go someplace else, you gotta do something else."

Haden and others say Williams — who's known for fielding the best 11 defenders regardless of position — has had little difficulty doing just that over the past few months.

"He's very vocal and in your face," Haden said in April, "and I feel like we definitely need that. We need somebody that is going to keep everyone accountable."

"You can tell that he wants to change the culture around here," third-year defensive lineman Danny Shelton said.

The Browns practice in Berea on the third day of minicamp.

For the first time since his introductory news conference, Williams spoke to reporters and offered something of a state-of-the-defense, which got the best of Cleveland's offense at times over the past week.

"The things that we do here, I am very, very proud of these young men and I have walked into a lot more dysfunctional buildings than this. These young men have come here every day from April 17 (to now) and all they have wanted to do is compete, compete, compete and want somebody to tell them which direction to go," he said.

With a chance to reflect on coming to the Browns, Williams, a native of Excelsior Springs, Missouri, outlined why Northeast Ohio feels almost like his home.

"The people I've met here in Cleveland have just been very similar personality, very similarly welcoming and also has that tough edge, that workman's edge about them. I love that aspect of it," he said.

"I like the general Midwest, I've been all over the country. And then I really like this head coach. I like how there so many things he's ahead of some of the other places I've been and he's doing a good job with that.

"It's a real good environment here. We need to now take the next step. The next step is, obviously we're not here for intramurals, we're here to win," he continued.

"These guys have done unbelievable. There's been all kinds of volunteer-type stuff where I pitch things out to see if they want to do it. I haven't had one single, solitary guy not go above and beyond the extra to have a chance to be good. There's a lot of ways you can cut corners, none of these guys are that way."

The Browns, of course, will have to make good on that approach at training camp later this summer.

"They're doing very well, I'm serious about that, they're doing very well," he said. "But the proof is in the pudding. We have to go play."

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