|Gregg Williams will inherit a Titans defense that surrendered a franchise-record 471 points in 2012. (US Presswire)|
During Gregg Williams' first stint with the Tennessee Titans more than a dozen years ago, the intense assistant had a pair of hard-hitting, playmaking safeties in Blaine Bishop and Marcus Robertson.
It helped Williams produce one of the most stifling units in the NFL and eventually land a head coaching gig in Buffalo.
Now in Williams' return to Tennessee, Bishop is encouraging him to instill an aggressive mentality into a defense that surrendered a franchise-record 471 points in 2012. Bishop acknowledged Williams has a delicate balance to strike in the wake of the Bountygate scandal that resulted in his one-year suspension from the league.
“The Titans play really hard but they don't play with a purpose,” Bishop told NFL AM. “Gregg is going to have that team playing with a purpose -- that means playing with a physicality that everyone respects in this league. He's a fiery guy. I wouldn't want to take that away from him as a coach, that's what makes him special.”
Williams signed a one-year contract on Thursday to become a senior assistant on defensive coordinator Jerry Gray's staff. One of the Titans' top priorities in the offseason could be to find an established veteran to play alongside two-time Pro Bowl free safety Michael Griffin. A rash of injuries forced Griffin to play alongside safeties Jordan Babineaux, Robert Johnson, Al Afalava and others in 2012.
“Michael is an exceptional talent,” Bishop said. “He needs to be playing with someone who can help, because I think he played with five or six safeties during the season.”
From 2004-07, Williams served as the Redskins' defensive coordinator. He has often referred to late-safety Sean Taylor as the best player he's ever coached.
“I've had to work very, very hard throughout my coaching career to try to speed people up, to try find another way to get more aggressiveness, to find another way to ask you do more,” Williams said shortly after Taylor's death in 2007. “I never had to ask him. Never.”
Several prominent safeties are set to become free agents including Ed Reed, Jairus Byrd, Dashon Goldson and LaRon Landry.
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