The New Orleans Saints host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, and each team desperately needs a victory. But the Saints have a competitive advantage: Gregg Williams isn’t coaching their defense.
Here’s the point total from the last time Sean Payton faced Williams, who won the 2009 Super Bowl with New Orleans before throwing everyone under the bus in the Bountygate scandal: 49-21. The Saints offense scored seven times, with quarterback Drew Brees throwing four touchdowns and wide receiver Willie Snead tossing in a fifth score on a 50-yard trick play. Tailback Mark Ingram led a rushing attack that gained 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground. It was brutal, and clear payback from Payton for Williams’ role in the Saints’ head coach’s year-long suspension.
The unit Williams fields now doesn’t have the talent that Rams team boasted – like defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the best defensive player in football right now. If there’s any reason to have hope that the Saints will turn it around against the Browns, it’s knowing that Sean Payton’s favorite whipping boy is standing right across the field. Payton and Williams each insist that everything is cordial and professional between them, but the scoreboard tells the real story.
Motivations aside, Williams is just bad at his job. His calls on long distance downs are weekly joke fodder, with safeties being positioned so far beyond the sticks that they can’t be seen on broadcast. Lining defensive backs like Jabrill Peppers and Teshaun Gipson 20 or more yards away from the line of scrimmage takes them out of the equation and makes big gains easy for opposing offenses.
While he’s known for his big talk, Williams calls defense like a coward. He’s afraid to see his unit give up a big play, and would rather die by a thousand papercuts. But the tackling technique he teaches ends up letting big plays happen anyway. There’s no excuse for the Saints offense to struggle this week. Once again, it falls on the Saints’ defense to just be competent.
Injury report: Saints, Browns will each be without staring defensive linemenThese aren’t the same Browns that Saints have faced before