NASHVILLE -- When the Tennessee Titans hired Gregg Williams to help with the defense and restart his NFL career after a year on the suspended list, many wondered how the Titans would define Williams' role.
Head coach Mike Munchak elected to retain Jerry Gray as defensive coordinator, despite the club allowing a franchise-record 471 points in 2012. Williams' aggressive style and nature was needed to help return the Titans to some level of respectability, something he said he will make sure he brings to the table in his role as senior defensive assistant.
"Well, aggressive is how we're going to be and we'll never, ever, ever apologize for competing," Williams said. "We want to be as attacking as we can on defense, and we want to be able to set the tone on who we play against at all times. ... We'll play exactly how we have to play from a toughness standpoint and from an effort standpoint."
Williams, who received an indefinite suspension from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in 2012 for his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, was reinstated after one year out of the game. Williams indicated that he felt all along that he would get another chance to coach in the NFL.
And he is glad that opportunity is coming in a familiar place with plenty of familiar faces. Williams' coaching career began with the Houston Oilers, the forerunner of the Titans franchise, and he was Tennessee's defensive coordinator when the franchise made its only Super Bowl appearance after the 1999 season.
"I feel like I am home. It is so much fun to see Mike Munchak and Jerry Gray, and Steve Brown and Bruce Matthews and Shawn Jefferson." Williams said. "Those are five coaches on the staff I had a chance to coach and I am not much older. I guess I was pretty young when I was coaching those guys. ... So that is fun. It has been great for me to see just how good a head coach Mike Munchak is."
The Titans also have Nate Kaczor and Arthur Smith on staff, whom Williams worked with in Jacksonville and Buffalo, respectively.
Of course, one of the big questions for Williams is exactly how much input he will have considering Gray holds the coordinator title. Gray was Williams' defensive coordinator when Williams was head coach of the Buffalo Bills for three seasons. They worked together again when Williams was the defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins.
But can the two co-exist with Gray actually having the superior title now? Williams says it won't matter.
"We are so much on the same page. One of the things we've done for all these years, the years we've been apart, we traded so much information back and forth," Williams said. "It has just been a real good match and a real comfortable match for everybody.
"We're very open and we speak a lot, but we always have, like I said, even when we haven't been together. He's like a brother. I'm not that much older than him anyway. We've always called and remained in contact. We've done a pretty good job trying to divide up the workload."
One of the things that Williams says he can provide the Titans is an extra set of eyes and ears on the practice field and in meeting rooms to allow not only Gray, but also Munchak, to do more hands-on coaching at their positions of expertise.
"Jerry Gray is the best secondary coach I've ever been involved with. I think one of the things, and you'll have to ask him, is that we me being around, he's been able to have his eyes and interests there more than having to go over everything else, and the same with Mike Munchak," Williams said. "His comfort-ability is that he hasn't had to be in all the defensive meetings because of his comfort-ability with me, that I'm in the defensive meetings. So now, Mike Munchak gets to do what he loves to do and that's coach the offensive line."
In other words, there won't be a lack of input and responsibilities for Williams in Tennessee, and the Titans beleaguered defense should certainly benefit from his presence.