Rams coach cleared hiring of DC with Goodell
BEFORE HIRING Gregg Williams as his defensive coordinator for the second time, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher cleared it with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Williams was part of Fisher's first staff with the Rams in 2012, but only for a few weeks before getting suspended for his role in the Saints' bounty scandal.
After a news conference to introduce Williams yesterday, Fisher said he'd been in contact with Goodell throughout the process 2 years ago and "I wanted to inform him about the direction I was thinking about going."
"He was very excited, and he endorsed it."
Before signing Williams, Fisher said the two spent a few days revisiting the 2012 experience. The suspension left the Rams in a bind and they went without a coordinator in '12.
Fisher said then that the suspension was "warranted" and, asked whether he'd consider Williams in the future, said he'd "cross that bridge when we come to it." After the 2012 season he fired Williams' son, defensive line coach Blake Williams.
During his suspension, Williams had no contact with the Rams but said he attended all of the home games. He was a defensive assistant last year at Tennessee and called it a "good stop."
"His handprint was all over the Tennessee defense, it was obvious that he'd gone in there and had a significant impact," Fisher said. "I'd say 60 to 70 percent of our terminology is his. I just really felt strongly about just pulling together."
Fisher initiated contact a few weeks after the season ended, and believes he'd surprised Williams. He made room by firing Tim Walton after one season, telling Walton he'd done nothing wrong but that Williams had been his first choice.
The 55-year-old Williams was defensive coordinator under Fisher with the Titans from 1997-2000.
"Things are in perspective, things are behind him, his past is his past," Fisher said. "The arrow's going up with the defense and I just felt like Gregg was the person to make sure that happens."
Williams shed no light on the discussions, saying: "Those are things that are between Jeff and I." He deflected a question about how he's changed as a coach since his suspension, saying every coach must adjust, but thought the familiarity would make this a good fit.
Fisher said the hire got a big thumbs-up from players, adding "my phone was blowing up."
The Rams have one of the NFL's top pass rushes but enter free agency and the draft needy in the secondary.
* The Detroit Lions are releasing wide receiver Nate Burleson and safety Louis Delmas, two starters from last season's team.
Burleson spent four seasons with the Lions, but Detroit likely made the decision with financial flexibility in mind. The 32-year-old Burleson caught 39 passes for 461 yards and a touchdown last season in nine games.
The Lions drafted Delmas in the second round in 2009, and he's been a consistent starter for them since then.
If Burleson and Delmas don't return under different contract terms, the Lions will have significant holes to fill at both receiver and in the secondary.