Gordon: Williams ready to finish what he started

2014-02-14T01:05:00Z 2014-02-14T11:15:06Z Gordon: Williams ready to finish what he startedBy Jeff Gordon jgordon@post-dispatch.com stltoday.com

The Rams kicked off their 2014 “No Excuses Tour” with the Gregg Williams news conference Thursday at Rams Park.

Williams is the new/old Rams defensive coordinator. He is the man Rams coach Jeff Fisher wanted back on Day 1 of this massive rebuilding project.

But the “Bountygate” fallout ended Williams’ first run at Rams Park after a few months. In his absence, Jeff Fisher’s defensive staff struggled to coax consistent performances from the Jeff Fisher Defense during the past two seasons.

One problem, of course, was the personnel Jeff Fisher picked to run the Jeff Fisher Defense. Some veterans got old on the job. Many younger players had to learn on the fly, enduring many trials while making lots of errors.

But Year 3 of the Fisher Regime is under way. After two seven-victory seasons restored respectability at Rams Park, the team expects to contend for postseason play this season.

"We're in the winning games business," Williams told reporters. "This is a great game, (but) it's a production business. I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work."

Quick turnarounds are the norm in the NFL. This organization took the longer route, choosing to rebuild via the draft while collecting extra picks over a three-year span. 

So Fisher, general manager Les Snead and the entire football operation must nail this draft. The Rams also must cycle out some more fading veterans and get some young veterans over the developmental hump.

The time has come for Jeff Fisher’s players to win more games with the Jeff Fisher Defense. History tells us that Williams can make that happen.

His track record is stellar, aside from that unseemly “Bountygate” business. Williams has built Top 5 defenses at his various NFL stops.

"There are no excuses for this defense not to do that," middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "We're fired up . . . it is a buy-in program. You're going to see a team working hard every day.

"There are absolutely no excuses. We need to be a Top 5 defensive team."

With Williams at the defensive helm, we will hear no more chatter about how coordinator-by-committee failed in 2012, with Gregg's son Blake calling plays. We won’t hear any more about how the job overwhelmed first-time coordinator Tim Walton last season.

Fisher decided to replace Walton during staff evaluations last month. "I was a little big uncomfortable," Fisher said. "As a result of that, I reached out to Gregg in late January.

"The timing was not ideal for Coach Walton, who did a good job for us."

Fisher and Williams had some issues to resolve. Fisher could not have been pleased when the "Bountygate" scandal blew up and soiled his program.

Williams could not have been thrilled with Blake's coaching demise at Rams Park. Gregg watched from the stands at the Edward Jones Dome as his son tried to fill his shoes.

"Gregg and I had to come to terms with a lot of things," Fisher said.

"Those are things between Jeff and I," Williams said.

Despite those things, Williams found comfort in reuniting with his old boss and former colleagues. "There are several coaches on this staff who have played for me and coach with me," he said.

He never ruled out a Rams reunion, despite the earlier issues.

"I always thought this was a possibility," Williams said. "I always thought this was a great place to be."

Williams served his NFL suspension for his shenanigans in New Orleans. He did a year of rehab in Tennessee as an assistant coach.

Now Williams is getting back to work for real. Expect the Rams to play a much more ambitious scheme.

"If we're going to go out and play a football game, I want to know win or lose that we will go out swinging," Laurinaitis said. "I would assume we would be very aggressive on third down.

"There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of disguising. It's exciting . . . I would rather do all of that than sit back in coverage."

If opponents see Williams’ return as an ominous development, so be it. The Rams would rather have a hated defense than one that Golden Tate and others can mock with impunity.

"A lot of people were uncomfortable watching the Super Bowl," Williams said. "Not me. It was a great defensive game."

The Seahawks have a great defense. So do the 49ers. So the Rams will need to build a strong defense to keep up in the NFC West.

"We have our work cut out for us," Williams said. "We want to be a good, solid, if not great-in-some-areas defensive football team."

Follow Jeff Gordon on Twitter @gordoszone and on Facebook at Gordo'sZone.

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Jeff Gordon

This is the new home for STLtoday.com sports columnist Jeff Gordon. Here you'll find his columns on the Cards, Rams, Blues and more, plus his daily "Tipsheet" blog about who's in and who's out in the world of sports.

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