|From Gregg to Greg, Redskins defense gets a trim|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 03 May 2008 11:34|
Blache has trimmed the play book, cutting out some of the many ``packages'' - or formations - that Williams so liked to brag about. Williams always left the impression that the success of the Redskins defense had a lot to do with clever coaching - the running joke was that the extra ``g'' stood for ``genius'' - while Blache is deflecting the attention back to the players.
``We will have fewer packages because this is about the players,'' Blache said after a practice at this weekend's minicamp. ``This is not about building the perfect castle or whatever. It's about giving the players something they can execute in the heat of battle under stressful situations. We are trying to be a hard, physical defense that's intimidating with our speed and hitting ability, and you can't do that when you're thinking about 20,000 different things.''
It's not that Williams was a failure during his four years in Washington. The Redskins ranked in the top 10 in total defense three times, although there was also an embarrassing 31st-place ranking in 2006. It was Williams' abrasive style that had its detractors, leaving him with a huge selling job on his hands when he sought to replace Joe Gibbs as head coach when Gibbs retired at the end of last season.
As it turned out, owner Dan Snyder fired Williams and promoted Blache. Jim Zorn then got the head coaching job. Those loyal to Williams were stunned.
``I hated to see Gregg Williams leave because I was close to him and I care for him as a person and a coach,'' said middle linebacker London Fletcher, who followed Williams from Buffalo and essentially became the Williams' surrogate voice on the field. ``But after speaking with Coach Blache and understanding how he is and getting to know him better, and knowing that they kept a lot of the defense, I was excited. It's a business. If you play this game long enough, there are coaches that come and go.''
Despite the switch from Gregg to Greg, the Redskins defense should look more or less the same. The projected starting 11 is essentially intact, although cornerback Carlos Rogers and linebacker Rocky McIntosh are recovering from knee injuries that could keep them sidelined when the season starts in September.
``One of the things we are trying to do is maintain continuity,'' Blache said, ``keep stuff that the players understand.''
The Redskins began the offseason with an aging defensive line and with little depth at linebacker or safety, but they didn't address any of those needs in free agency or in the higher rounds of the draft. Cornerback Justin Tryon of Arizona State was the only defensive player chosen by the front office in the first five rounds.
``When I was a kid, I wanted a pony. I never got it,'' Blache said. ``So you never worry about what you want; you make do with what you have. We have some very talented people regardless of their age. I think they compete at a high level.''
Blache also cited Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston, productive sixth-round picks from two years ago, as evidence that defensive talent doesn't have to come from high in the draft. There are also undrafted free agents who can contribute.
``It's just a matter of finding guys with the talent, the desire, and putting in the time to coach them. That's why they call us coaches,'' Blache said. ``They don't call us interior decorators.''
But they do call Blache a generous host. For a decade or so, wherever he's been, he and his wife have invited scouts and coaches to their home the day before the draft. He also has been hosting a yearly get-together for the defensive line, a tradition that he might not continue now that he's in charge of the entire defense.
``Just the way the defensive line ate, with the cost of groceries today, I don't know if I can afford to have the whole defense over,'' he said with a laugh.
Blache is often candid and funny while addressing reporters, which is surprising considering how much he dislikes the ritual. He boycotted the media for more than a year, but now - because of his promotion - reluctantly is talking again.
``I'd take two prostate exams to one press conference,'' Blache said. ``This is like a dental appointment. I will send Christmas cards, but there won't be any invitations to the house.''