Hottest defensive coach on free agent market landed by Saints
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton announced today that they have agreed to hire Gregg Williams as the team’s defensive coordinator. Williams, 50, most recently served as the defensive coordinator/assistant head coach, defense for the Jacksonville Jaguars (2008).
A veteran of 19 years in the NFL, Williams has overseen top 10 defenses in five-of-the-past nine seasons, including three top three’s in the past six years, with three different teams.
“A lot has gone into this decision, and we targeted Gregg as the coach we’d like to hire after our first interview because he was so impressive and prepared,” said Payton. “As an offensive coach, I have game-planned against his defenses in the past, and I know the problems they create. He’s an aggressive coach, but his units are always sound fundamentally. We have some pieces in place for him to work with, and I know he’s excited to get started.”
Prior to his stint in Jacksonville, Williams spent four seasons (2004-2007) as the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins. During that time span, the Redskins ranked sixth in the NFL in defense (306.6), second in the NFC, and seventh in rushing defense (103.8). The Redskins allowed only 19.4 points per game during that span, the ninth-fewest in the NFL.
“Gregg is a tremendous addition to our coaching staff,” said Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis. “We were looking for a coach with experience, a proven track record of success and a clear philosophy on where the improvements needed to be made on our defense and that process.”
In 2005 the Redskins defense propelled the club to its first postseason appearance since 1999. The defense allowed only 11.7 points per game in the last six games. The defense finished ranked ninth in the NFL and sixth in the NFC. In his first season with the Redskins Williams’ unit ranked third in the NFL and first in the NFC. They finished third against the rush and seventh against the pass in the NFL.
Before joining the Redskins, Williams spent three seasons as head coach of the Buffalo Bills. During his tenure in Buffalo, his defenses improved each of the three seasons. In 2003, the defense finished second in the NFL, improving from 15th in 2002 and 21st in 2001. Overall, the Bills’ 2003 defensive and special teams units finished among the NFL’s top-five team in nine categories.
Williams spent 11 seasons with the Tennessee organization (1990-2000), including four seasons as the defensive coordinator (1997-2000). He was hired in 1990 as a defensive quality control coach and was promoted to special teams coach in 1993. Before taking over as defensive coordinator, Williams spent three seasons (1994-96) as linebackers coach.
In 2000, the Titans’ defensive unit led the NFL in total defense for the first time since joining the NFL and the 191 points allowed were the third-fewest in the NFL since the league adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978. The team also established the franchise’s single-season records for sacks (55), fewest passing yards allowed (2,424) and fewest touchdowns allowed (17). The Titans ranked first in the NFL from 1999-2000 with 109 sacks.
Prior to joining the NFL coaching ranks, Williams served as a graduate assistant at the University of Houston from 1988-89 under former Oilers and Redskins head coach Jack Pardee. From 1984-87, Williams was the head coach at Belton (MO) High School after beginning his coaching career at Excelsior Springs (MO) High School.
At each step along the way, Williams has been heavily involved in the community. Williams created the Gregg Williams Foundation, Inc. in 2004 to benefit the children in his hometown of Excelsior Springs, Mo. The foundation’s host website is www.greggwilliamsfoundation.org. For the past five years, he has hosted the Gregg Williams Tiger Golf Classic as well as hosting a coaching clinic and seven-on-seven tournament with a lineman challenge with funds raised going towards the installment of new scoreboards for the high school gym, college scholarship programs, recreation parks, a practice field irrigation system and a newly formed Robotics Teams within the school’s science department.
Williams was a quarterback and also played baseball at Northeast Missouri State where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree. He later earned his master’s degree in education from Central Missouri State. Williams and his wife, Leigh Ann, are the parents of a daughter, Amy, and two sons, Blake and Chase.
Gregg Williams’ Coaching Background
Excelsior High School (MO) 1980-83 … Assistant Coach
Belton High School (MO) 1984-87 … Head Coach
University of Houston 1988-89 … Graduate Assistant
Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans 1990-2000 … Graduate Assistant, Special Teams Coach, Defensive Coordinator
Buffalo Bills 2001-2003 … Head Coach
Washington Redskins 2004-2007 … Defensive Coordinator
Jacksonville Jaguars 2008 … Defensive Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach, Defense
New Orleans Saints, 2009- … Defensive Coordinator