Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams spoke to the media at the conclusion of minicamp on Thursday. Here is our reader’s digest on what he had to say:
Not As Much of a Shock
- Even though there are some new players this year, the level of knowledge and feel for each player is much, much more in year two. Williams said, “I think that at this time this year, there is a knowledge and a trust about me. I am not as much of a shock to them.” He also says they are further along this year than they were at this time last year.
The Addition of CB Denzel Ward
- Williams likes the competition in general they have at cornerback, and said “that area is probably the one we are spending a lot of extra time with” because of how much turnover there was in the roster.
- There won’t be much to learn for Ward playing press coverage at the NFL level, but Williams is impressed with how quickly he has been accepted (just like Myles Garrett was last year) by the veterans as one of them:
“From an intelligence standpoint, it is not very hard because he just has to count to one and cover the guy that is the first one in from the sideline. Now, from an ability standpoint, that is another thing, but he fits in ability-wise. He has covered some awfully good guys. He has had a chance to play at a very high level in college. Both he and (DL) Myles (Garrett) – I will have to say this, I want to be honest with this – have fit into the locker room faster than most rookies that I have had the chance to draft. I do not move them up the depth chart without the understanding of how they are fitting in with the other veterans that play on the field.”
- What about the team’s decision to take Ward over Bradley Chubb? I’ve said several times before that it sounds like the front office’s decision on that was really influenced by Williams’ input, and his comments seemed to confirm that:
“I would have loved to have (Broncos LB Bradley) Chubb, but at this point in time, I do not think that he covers the deep ball well enough as a press corner (laughter). Nor does he intercept the ball well enough (laughter). I have an Ogbah, and I have got a lot of other guys out there. ... Denzel fits in with what we need to do, how we need to improve here and how we need to improve as a team here.”
Where Will Mychal Kendricks Fit In?
- Last year, Williams stressed that every defensive player needed to play more than one position. He views Kendricks as already fitting that bill, with the ability to play inside, outside, and in a variety of packages they do.
- Williams also had kind of a personal attachment to Kendricks from when he was being drafted:
“I wanted to draft him when he was coming out, but we did not get him picked soon enough at the other place that I was at. This is going to be fun to have a chance to coach him this time around.”
Jabrill Peppers’ New Role on Defense
- This one might please Browns fans the most — although Williams again talked about player versatility, he added, “It is so much fun to get a chance to have him in the box [at strong safety].”
- With that said, there will still be some competition with Derrick Kindred, who Williams called “one of the best strong safeties I have had the chance to coach in my career in the run game and zone pass game.” Williams believes Peppers has those same instincts and that the two are pushing each other.
- At defensive tackle, he thinks the players will be “much better and comfortable.” “We are all vertical, knock back, coming off of the ball and knocking you back,” said Williams. He praised Caleb Brantley, Larry Ogunjobi, Jamie Meder, and Trevon Coley. He said Caleb and Coley are both doing well in three-technique, and that Meder is “probably one of the best run players in the NFL.”
- Williams had tons of praise for Myles Garrett in general, and is also high on Emmanuel Ogbah.
- Regarding things the defense needs to improve upon from a year ago, he mentioned forcing turnovers.
“We have to take the ball away better, we did not do that very well at all – and we have to do a better job of when we are down in the scoring zone and the red zone. We have to do a better job there. Overall, you will see when those two areas are right there expand because our secondary is better – we will see as it comes out – then you will have a chance to see the production being better on defense. I think that we have to take the ball away better. We have to.”
- Williams brought up how before he got there, the Browns’ defense was worst in the NFL in deep balls, both in attempts and production, allowed. In 2017, they were No. 1 in that area because they discouraged people from attempting to do that (with Peppers being so deep). “Now, we have to make plays when they do it,” said Williams. “That will be the next step for us to do.”
- But what about the deep passes vs. how many points they actually allowed?
“A 2-yard touchdown is different than a 75-yard touchdown. A 5-yard touchdown is different than a 14-yard touchdown. It all has to do with depth and length of the play. We have to do a better job down in the red zone. We have to do a better job defending the goal line. We have to do a better job than that. There have been places that I have been where it has been outstanding. That is the next step for these guys here to be up there at the very top. We have got to do a better job of that.”