When Gregg Williams hands one of his players something to read regarding a defensive assignment, Williams prefers to use a color printout. Somewhere along the line, Gregg Williams discovered that color images are best to help enhance memory.
On one level, it's a small anecdote about Williams. But there's a deeper meaning that may be attached as well: Attention to detail is, and has always been, Williams' hallmark.
It has helped him become one of the NFL's most respected coaches and a person whose ideas about playing defense are regarded as avant-garde thinking.
Just ask the Dallas Cowboys, who on Week 15 at FedExField yielded seven sacks to Williams' defense. The Redskins hit them with a defensive whirlwind from which they never recovered. That hurricane was led by veteran defensive end Phillip Daniels, who produced four sacks.
Daniels is one example of a Redskins defensive player who has really played at a high level this year. He joins Shawn Springs, Marcus Washington, Sean Taylor, Cornelius Griffin and others.
All of the aforementioned have blossomed--in some cases had their careers rejuvenated--in the schemes of Williams. It all, or at least most of it, clicked in his first two seasons in Washington. Williams signed a three-year contract extension with the Redskins on Tuesday.
The Redskins' effort week-in, and week-out was first rate and overall Williams guided his side of the ball to the No. 3 ranking in the NFL in 2004. The unit is ranked ninth this year and has been particularly dominant down the stretch.
His brand of defense places a premium on toughness and persistence. What a particular player has done in the past matters little.
As a possible comparison, he has been to the Redskins' defense of 2004 and 2005 what Buddy Ryan was to the Bears' defenses in the mid-80s: Williams is the architect. He even has some of Ryan's personality traits in that he can be the most demanding and blunt of NFL coaches in the contemporary game.
Daniels, one of the team's leaders, recently called Williams a "great" defensive strategist. Added Daniels: "He's going to make the calls that work. He's going to put us in the right position to make plays." With such comments, Daniels is not a lone voice.
For Williams, what it all comes down to is finding the right type of player.
Beyond that, Williams' loves minutiae. Frequently, even just after the conclusion of a game, he can be spotted off by himself jotting down on a clipboard suggestions and comments for his players.
Another factor in terms of what Williams brings to the Redskins is that he seems to have embraced technology and how it may be used to improve a team's play.
Just as it would be misleading to say that the Redskins' defense revolves solely around Griffin, Springs, Washington and a few others, so it would be inaccurate to end discussion of the Redskins' defensive staff with Williams. In the likes of Greg Blache, Dale Lindsey and other coaches, Joe Gibbs has assembled a real think tank on that side of the Redskins Park facility.
At its pith, in Williams' world view, every day is an audition, a job interview. Every day, you had best bring your A-game. That applies to players, coaches and anyone else involved in Redskins football.
Vintage Williams is this comment about cornerbacks in the NFL: "They've got facemasks on and shoulder pads on, too. We expect you to hit." And on some of his defensive starters playing on special teams: "I would not say that anything to do with special teams is sacrificing. Special teams are a very, very important part of what we do."
The architect's favorite project with the Redskins no doubt has been Taylor and this season Williams kept an especially watchful eye on Carlos Rogers, the team's top pick out of Auburn. Says Williams: "We're not going to jeopardize Carlos's learning curve just because of where he was drafted or how much money he's making because we don't care about those kinds of things."
If you really want to know what Gregg Williams thinks about playing in the NFL, though, ask him about leadership. His response: "It's easy for everybody to mark who's the face of the Redskins, who's the leader, all that kind of stuff. But everybody has to be a leader. Every single person on that team is accountable."
There's the other key aspect of Gregg Williams' coaching style. He's always able to make his point and to get it across with clarity.