Matt Bowen remembers the primary day of coaching camp beneath Gregg Williams — the primary staff drill, truly. This was 2004, when Bowen performed security for the Washington Redskins. They had been coming off a 5-11 season beneath the easygoing Steve Spurrier, who was changed by the legendary Joe Gibbs and his new sheriff on protection, Williams. They began with a 7-on-7 interval. Fairly routine. Good and simple. Pitch and catch.
Besides Williams instructed his protection to blitz the quarterback — all seven defenders.
“I’ve by no means seen Mark Brunell appear like that in his life,” Bowen recalled with fun. “He ended up throwing the ball away. That was the introduction to how we had been going to play protection.”
Memo to the New York Jets: He is coming for you, this 60-year-old defensive coordinator who flaunts an enormous résumé, an enormous ego and large expectations.
Gregg Williams will possible deliver a dramatic change to the Jets’ protection. Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire
Williams, the primary rent by new coach Adam Gase, will present a tradition shock to the Jets, who completed 29th in scoring protection, their worst rating since 1996. He is a high-intensity coach who will create a degree of accountability that did not exist beneath the earlier teaching employees. Love him or hate him, Williams is a must-watch coach, and it is going to be fascinating to gauge his affect on the 4 largest names on protection: security Jamal Adams, cornerback Trumaine Johnson, linebacker Darron Lee and defensive sort out Leonard Williams.
The anticipated swap to a Four-Three protection, after 13 years of a Three-Four base, might have a profound impact on Lee and Leonard Williams particularly. Let’s have a look, with some assist from Bowen, who performed seven seasons within the NFL (two beneath Williams) and now works as an ESPN NFL analyst.
Leonard Williams: In all probability, he’d be the Three-technique within the four-man entrance, which means he’d line up on the surface shoulder of a guard. The place is designed for the participant to get upfield and make performs, as Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald did because the Three-technique beneath Williams in 2015 and 2016. Corridor of Famer Warren Sapp made the place well-known throughout his days with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The sensation within the group is the brand new scheme can unlock Leonard Williams’ potential. Regardless of stable play over 4 seasons, he has managed solely 17 sacks. An aggressive, one-gap scheme may also help with the sack numbers, but it surely will not be a cure-all as a result of the change is not as radical as you may suppose.
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In Todd Bowles’ hybrid system final season, Williams performed 620 of his 822 snaps as an inside lineman — left/proper sort out and nostril sort out, per ESPN Stats & Info information. Within the season finale in opposition to the New England Patriots, he performed no fewer than 23 snaps because the Three-technique. All advised, he recorded 2.5 sacks as a sort out, 2.5 as an finish.
It actually comes right down to the person participant. As an illustration: Trevon Coley was the Three-technique for Williams final season with the Cleveland Browns, and he managed solely a half-sack.
“I nonetheless suppose you’ll see him rush exterior at occasions,” Bowen stated of Williams. “I believe Gregg will attempt to use him as an interchangeable piece alongside the defensive entrance. That is one of many areas the Jets have to improve; they should add some edge rushers. Should you put Leonard as a Three-technique, now think about when you have a reasonably constant edge rusher exterior of him. It’ll create extra one-on-ones inside for Leonard Williams.”
Lee: He could possibly be the largest beneficiary of the Gregg Williams scheme. Undersized as an inside linebacker within the Three-Four scheme, which induced him to get swallowed up in opposition to north-south operating groups, Lee will really feel liberated within the new protection. He may have extra alternatives to play in area, the place he can excel due to his athleticism. You noticed glimpses of it final season, particularly in go protection (three interceptions). Underneath Williams, he generally is a run-and-hit linebacker.
The query is whether or not he performs the center (Mike) or weak facet (Will). Bowen stated Lee is perhaps a greater match within the center as a result of Williams has been enjoying extra Cowl 2 than he did in previous years, and Lee “can run the center of the sphere in Cowl 2 as a center linebacker,” he stated. “You may see him doing that extra in sub packages. You may as well use him as a blitzer from the middle-linebacker place.”
Like Leonard Williams, Lee is coming into the ultimate 12 months of his rookie contract. (The Jets have but to train their fifth-year choice for 2020.) His once-promising 2018 season ended with a four-game substance-abuse suspension, elevating questions on his maturity. Williams and Lee had been common supervisor Mike Maccagnan’s first two first-round picks, and the group is entrusting Gregg Williams to maximise their potential earlier than it is too late.
Adams: He ought to love Williams’ teaching type as a result of it mirrors the way in which he performs: relentless. He is a do-everything participant who ought to be featured within the new system.
“Should you watched his movie this 12 months, you already know he might be one of many prime safeties within the NFL,” Bowen stated. “There’s no query about that. On this scheme, he can do quite a lot of various things. I believe it goes again to his scouting report popping out of LSU. This was a security who might cowl down, who might play over the tight finish and who might match up with a operating again. Plus, he had the footwork of a nook at occasions. He might play within the slot. And he finds the ball. He’s across the soccer. Guys which are across the soccer, that doesn’t occur by chance.”
Williams will love Adams as a result of he is a wise participant who by no means lets up. The person truly tackled individuals within the Professional Bowl, for crying out loud.
Johnson: He is aware of Williams higher than anyone on protection as a result of he performed for him, 2014 to 2016 with the Rams. He made some huge cash in that scheme — two franchise tags, plus a $34 million assure from the Jets. Johnson’s play slipped final season, however perhaps he can rebound beneath the fiery Williams, who will not tolerate an absence of focus.
“He didn’t play his greatest ball final 12 months — everybody understands that — however he will get a contemporary begin,” Bowen stated. “I believe he is the proper nook in the event you play Cowl 2, for my part, due to his body, his size. He generally is a bodily participant who can jam on the line of scrimmage and sink and get his eyes on the quarterback. However he’ll be requested to play man protection as effectively, and he’ll be requested to play man protection with no assist. That’s a part of the protection. The ability set remains to be there. Possibly this can be a scenario the place, working beneath Gregg and fine-tuning his method, he can get again to what he was.”