BEREA, Ohio — Gregg Williams insists there’s no bad blood between him and Saints coach Sean Payton over Bountygate, despite the fact Payton seemed to run the score up on Williams the last time they met, a 49-21 victory over the Rams on Nov. 27, 2016.
“No. No, no, no,” Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Williams said Friday. “Sean and I are very good friends, and there are still a lot of people in that organization [I know]. I think Sean is, if not one of the best, the best coach I have ever had a chance to work with. He and I are friends for life. We’ll walk together for life with a Super Bowl trophy.
“There are still several guys on the staff that were on my staff down there, too. The thing about Sean is Sean is looking to score the ball every time he has the ball. That’s our job, and there’s no ‘run the score up’ in the National Football League. No. That’s not what the games are about.”
But Browns safety Jabrill Peppers believes that Sunday’s game between the Browns and Saints in the Superdome has extra meaning for Williams.
“Some games are a little bit more personal,” he said Friday. “I’d think that this is one of them.”
But if that’s the case, Williams hasn’t let on.
“Not really,” he said. “The same guy week in and week out. It’s going to be a good game and a good tell-tale for us.”
Williams, who was suspended for the 2012 season for Bountygate along with Payton, says he wouldn’t want offenses to do anything but try to score every time out.
“I guess all of the college games now, it’s hard for me to watch,” he said. “People want everybody to take a knee. This is our job to play defense, and their job is to do what they do. No. A good situation, I have a lot of great memories down there, living down there in the French Quarter.
“This country boy, growing up on a farm and everything and I lived in the French Quarter when I was down there. A lot of good friends still down there, but inside the white lines when we are playing on game day – OK, it’s us against them and that’s how we have to play.”
Remember when other teams passed on Michael Thomas in the draft? So does Thomas.
Likewise, Payton raved about his former defensive coordinator, who he won a Super Bowl with in 2010. That even though he scored two TDs on fourth-and-1 plays and one on a trick play. The Saints rolled up 555 yards against Rams defensive coordinator Williams.
“It sounds like a juicy question,” Payton said on a conference call Wednesday. “Listen, my relationship with Gregg is great. He was part of a championship we won one year. He’s done a great job in Cleveland. You can see his defense made six takeaways last week. You see that on tape. You see the way they’re playing with confidence.
“I think this game is more about the Saints and the Browns and finding a way to win regardless of how many points it takes. They’re a team we do not get to see often obviously being in the AFC, and we’re going to focus on all of the things that can come up in a game, but there is a lot you have to prepare for. Gregg has done a great job with creating different pressure looks. Also, they are very disciplined in their zone looks, so that is what I would say.”
The Browns surrendered 494 yards last Sunday, and are tasked with slowing a Saints offense featuring future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, star wideout Michael Thomas and reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara. New Orleans lost 48-40 to the Bucs last week.
“(Williams) always has a lot of juice,” said linebacker Joe Schobert. “Hasn’t been over-the-top (this week) too much. Obviously going back and playing a guy that he’s coached with and is friends with is going to be an important game, but he doesn’t try to add stress to guys on defense. There’s enough stress in an NFL game anyway, so it’s just been a normal work week … trying to get everything right.”
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