Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher & Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams Press Conference Transcripts

Head Coach Jeff Fisher – News Conference – February 13, 2014

(Opening statement)
“Let me first start off by saying there’s more people in this room than there was when I stood up here for the first time. I didn’t think I was going to see you guys until the Combine, at least those were my comments at the wrap-up meeting on Monday (after the season.) So, you got me a week early. Congratulations and thanks for coming.

Yesterday we formally announced that we would be hiring Gregg Williams as our defensive coordinator and what I wanted to do this morning is give you some background on how we came to the decision, a little bit about the process, and then give you an opportunity to speak briefly with Coach Williams.

In probably mid-January, several weeks after the season was over, what we do as assistant coaches, front office personnel and head coaches is you start the evaluation process. I started that. I gave a lot of thought to the future and the direction of our defense and I have to say I was a little bit uncomfortable. As a result of that, I reached out to Gregg, probably late January. We spent several days together discussing the past, putting the past behind us, discussing the present and then the future and the direction of where we wanted to go with our defense. I also had a conversation with the Commissioner (Roger Goodell), who not only endorsed Gregg but also felt that Gregg would be a good move for this organization. Gregg and I came to terms with a lot of things. We worked out an agreement and, just prior to that, we decided to, as the process was moving forward, I made the difficult decision to let Coach (Tim) Walton go. Obviously, the timing was not ideal for Coach Walton, who did a very good job for us. But, I felt, in the best interest of this organization, that Gregg was the guy for the job. As you know, we have a past together. We’ve won a lot of games together. He’s coached a lot of very good defenses. Speaking for myself and the rest of the staff, he’s very, very excited about being here, as they are. I’ll be available for questions after this, but now I’m going to let you speak with Coach.”

Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams – News Conference – February 13, 2014

(Opening statement)
“I do want to say how wonderful it was to be back here in the home state of Missouri, my home state, and be back in one of the greatest sports towns in the United States. I grew up three and half hours from here, sitting next to my grandmother, who was in a rocking chair. Many nights I grew up listening to the St. Louis Cardinals play baseball. A few of my boyhood idols growing up were (St. Louis Cardinals) Stan Musial, Bob Gibson and Mike Shannon and it’s interesting, my opportunity, now to come here to St. Louis, live in St. Louis, be in one of the greatest sports towns there is, and then the ultimate goal is to help them and help this organization win another championship. It’d be no greater thing for me to say this is my last move. I’ve had an opportunity to work and coach at a lot of good organizations in the National Football League and I really look forward to working for this organization right here and potentially retire right here and win an awful a lot of games. I want to thank the people in the Rams organization, (Rams Owner) Stan Kroenke, (Executive Vice President of Football Operations & Chief Operating Officer) Kevin Demoff, (Head Coach) Jeff Fisher, the Rams staff and the Rams players for this opportunity to come back here and help them win games. We’re in the winning-games business. This is a great game. It’s a production business. There’s no better place for me to live than right now in St. Louis. I’m blessed to be here and I’m ready to roll my sleeves up and get to work. I know this week as we’ve started meeting as a staff, that they’re probably great and they’re enjoying the fact there’s a little bit of a break in the staff meetings downstairs and I’m here with you instead of with them because we have a lot of work to do. We started early this week and we’ll be working hard and doing that knowing that you all want a winner.”

(On if he ever thought he would be back coaching in St. Louis after his suspension)
“I’ve always thought that this was a possibility. I’ve always thought that this is a great place to be. This is a great league that we have a chance to work in. I’m very blessed and honored to get a chance to work every single day in the National Football League. This is the very top of the food chain in what we do. I don’t take it for granted, any day that I get a chance to work in this league. Players should feel the same way. Staff members should feel the same way. Owners should feel the same way. This is a great business to be in and this is a great place to be.”

(On what he thinks about the talent of the defense that is currently assembled)
“When I came here the first time, I liked the nucleus that was here. As I come back the second time, I even like the nucleus better. I’m in the process of studying that right now. As a staff, we’re going through all those things. But, until you get a chance to work day-to-day and have hands-on operation with people, you really don’t know people until you get a chance to put them through the stresses and put them through the meetings and put them through the practices and stuff. But, we’re in the process right now. For me, Jeff has done a great job on how he’s scheduled with the personnel department. The coaching staff has done a very good job. At this point in time, the players aren’t around here. So, I haven’t had a chance to put a lot of time in there with them. But the ones that I knew about before I left, some of those same ones are still here and they have done a great job here the last two years of adding to nucleus.”

(On how he and Fisher patched things up between them)
“Those are things that are between Jeff and I.”

(On how he would describe what he wants to see from the defense in 2014)
“The biggest thing that we do is that, from the defensive standpoint, we’re judged by how well we tackle, how many points you give up. There’s a lot of great defenses in this division and we need to step up. There’s probably a lot of people that were uncomfortable watching the Super Bowl – not me. I thought it was a great defensive game. The people who love to see all the points in the league…I agonize when you see those games that are 50-49. All of a sudden you see a team that played the way Seattle played on defense, that was fun to watch. We have our work cut out for us. We intend to be a good, solid – if not in certain areas – great defensive football teams win championships and that was a great proving ground. Just a couple of weeks ago we got a chance to see.”

(On if he is a different coach now compared to when the Rams originally hired him)
“I think I’m a different coach every single day, and I’ve talked to that about our own coaches here on the staff because each and every day you think about improving. When you, as the leader, as the head coach, as the owner, as the defensive coordinator, whatever position or title you occupy, if you’re not looking to improve and get better you get passed by in this league. You’ll get avalanched in this league. So, yeah, I think I’m better and I understand a lot of really good things and used the time wisely.”

(On how often he watched the Rams defense in his year away from coaching)
“I came to all the home games. I sat up there and I was a season ticket holder, so I had a chance to take a look at all that stuff and not only that, but everybody. We somewhat get kind of pigeon holed in this league by how much time we have to see other people play, but that particular year I got a chance to see a lot of people play. I got a chance to do a lot of growth studies and understanding on other teams in the league that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do. So, I used that time wisely and I’m looking forward to have a chance to use some of that. I’ve been talking about a lot of those factors with our staff right now this past week on some of those growth studies that I went through and had a chance to use, and hopefully we’ll benefit by some of those.”

(On what he likes about working with Coach Fisher)
“One of the things that I kind of adopted several years ago in trying to simplify what we do, how we do. Some of the greatest people I’ve been around take something hard and make it sound pretty simple. And I kind of put four ‘Ws’ of life on what I wanted to do with the rest of my career and where I wanted to work, and that’s ‘What am I doing?’; ‘Where is it at?’; ‘Who is it with?’; and ‘The ability to win.’ I like who it’s with here. This is a tough business and there are several coaches on this staff that have played for me and have coached for me other places, and we have coached together other places. Coaches in this business are salesmen. I don’t have to do a lot of sales with people that I’m familiar with. There’s already a common knowledge and a base of support already set and ready to go, so now you can direct your time and energies to what matter that day. So, the fact that there’s a great familiarity with us, but realize this – it’s been 14 years since we’ve been together. It’s been 14 seasons we’ve competed against each other. It’s fun to be back with people who think and believe the same way you are, so now you get a chance to spend more time with the players because you’re spending less time having to sell or defend yourself with your staff before you ever get with the players.”

(On if he has analyzed the defense from last season)
“I’ve had a chance. I’ve watched every single game and I’ve taken reports and listened to our reports, and those things are good to familiarize yourself with. But, as opposed to what other people do, you need to be good at what you do, and what we’re getting ready to go about doing. So, we’ll spend more time on what we’re getting ready to do as opposed to what’s already been done in the past, but we will take that for recollection and we will take that for knowledge to improve – we’ll use that.”

(On if there are specific areas he thinks the defense needs to improve)
“If I told you, everybody else would know, and I’m not looking to tell everybody else.”

(On if he has playbooks from other teams)
“I have playbooks of everybody’s team, and one of the things, I laugh about that when that happens. And Jeff, playing for Buddy Ryan – you know the first time Buddy Ryan ever had a playbook is when I was his young assistant and it’s one of my most treasured playbooks. George Allen’s is one of my most treasured playbooks. Every time a free agent walks in a building and comes in a building, he gives you the playbook. I’ve had guys that have come to play for me other places that bring my playbook in that they got from guys that went and played for them. That’s just part of it – we all have everybody’s playbook and that was really a joke story to listen to that whole thing go on. When you turn the film on, do you have their playbook? When you match the audio to the thing, do you have the playbook? How much traction did ‘Omaha’ get when (Broncos Qcool smiley Peyton (Manning) said, ‘Omaha’ 46 times one game on TV? What’s that mean? It doesn’t mean anything. The fact that we understand football, we’re coaches, OK. We understand football and don’t need anybody else’s playbook to go about teaching what we’re getting ready to do. I do collect playbooks. I love to collect playbooks. I love to read and see those types of things. I’m a voluminous reader and I love to see what other people call a term that you think that you use in the press. You use this term but we don’t use that term, but we mean the same thing. What is a playbook? That was a joke to me.”

(On how his year with Tennessee went and how the players responded to him)
“It was really good. In fact, when I went back to that staff, five of those coaches played for me at some time in their career, two of them are in the Hall of Fame, one of them went in the college Hall of Fame last year. One of them played special teams for me and one of them played defensive back for me. So that was fun to be around those guys that were on that staff, and then those players there, it was fun. It was fun to go back there and all of a sudden a guy that there wasn’t a lot of like for (Titans Ccool smiley Alterraun Verner when I walked in the building. He didn’t do too bad this year, did he? He made his first Pro Bowl and there was a lot of people that were wondering whether he would even make the team. Then, all of a sudden you come back there. We all have warts, we all have strengths, and one of the things that the good coaches – and Jeff has done this and a lot of people that I’ve had a chance to be with that have been titled as good coaches – is you find a way to use the strengths of every individual you have. You hide the weakness, use the strengths and those players were fun to be around. Those players were good to be around, and we made a lot of improvements there in a short amount of time. It was a good stop, it was good.”

(On if he is looking to recreate the magic between he and Fisher had in the late 1990s)
“I would hope, but the late ‘90s, it was a different game. The game has evolved, and as coaches in this league, if you don’t understand about adapt and improvise, if you don’t understand about evolving, and if you don’t understand about how the league is right now, there’s a lot of principles that were done there in the late ‘90s. There’s a lot of terms that we used playbook-wise that will be adapted into this thing right here now, too. But we’ve got to get ready to play the 2014 version of the National Football League. We’ve got to get ready to play the opponents that we’re going to hit here right now, and we’ve got to be able to adapt the defensive style and fit the players here that we bring in here to get ready to go. But, there will be carryover and we’re looking to try to make an impact with every team we get a chance to coach.”

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