Saints defensive coordinator Williams knows Eagles well

Williams
Williams
Posted: September 18, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - For the second week in a row, the Saints' defense on Sunday will face a quarterback making his NFL starting debut, if third-year pro Kevin Kolb indeed fills in for injured starter Donovan McNabb.

Last week the Saints pretty much had their way with Detroit rookie Matthew Stafford, intercepting three passes in a 45-27 victory.

But defensive coordinator Gregg Williams pointed out two differences this time around:

"This one has been in the league longer," he said of Kolb, who was drafted in the second round out of Houston in 2007. "And I think [Philadelphia] is one of the best-coached teams in the National Football League, year in and year out."

Williams knows the Eagles well, having faced them eight times from 2004 to 2007 as defensive coordinator for the division-rival Washington Redskins.

During that span, Philadelphia was 5-3 against Washington, and Williams is 4-6 lifetime against the Eagles in coach Andy Reid's tenure, dating to Williams' coaching stints in Houston, Tennessee and Buffalo.

"They really make you work hard for all the things you get on defense," Williams said. "They're very well prepared. From top to bottom that organization is very well-run, from how they manage the cap, how they manage the personnel, how they manage their offense, defense and special teams systems.

"And really, if you follow throughout all the years that Andy has been there, when a receiver goes down, they plug the next one in, they don't change the system. When the quarterback goes down, they plug the next one in, they don't change the system. When a back goes down . . . they have their way of doing things, and they're going to go about executing. So again, like it was last week, we're going to go against their offense and not a player within their offense."

Williams seemed generally pleased with his review of the Saints' Week 1 performance.

He said he thought the Saints did a good job of disrupting "the clock" in Stafford's head, even though the Saints had only one sack. He said Stafford was getting rid of the ball quickly, but often the Saints made him throw it quicker than he wanted.

And Williams credited the safeties for disguising an all-out blitz and keeping good coverage to allow linebacker Jonathan Vilma to get in for the lone sack.

"We've got to continue taking the ball away. We get measured by that. We've got to make a significant improvement from last year to this year in that," Williams said. "We gave three short fields to our offense, which was good. We've still got to score on defense. We've got to try to get that done. I thought we did a good job when our back was against the wall as far as making it very, very tough to cross the goal line. I would have liked to have seen them not get across at all.

"But our passion, our energy about going in on tough situations was good."

Williams also said he was relieved to hear that he likely will have defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant for the remainder of the season.

"I'll tell you this, tongue-in-cheek and serious, I'm a lot better coach with better players," Williams said. "I like the fact that everything has worked out. I had no control over it, but I like seeing their jersey numbers running around on the practice field right now."

Unfriendly confines

Saints coach Sean Payton is also plenty familiar with Philadelphia, having spent his first two seasons in the NFL as an assistant coach with the Eagles in 1997 and 1998, before coaching the division-rival New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys from 1999 to 2005.

His teams have fared well against Philly, compiling an 11-7 record the past 10 years, including the Saints' playoff victory in the Superdome in January 2007. But his teams are 3-4 at Philadelphia, where the fans have earned a reputation as some of the most hostile in sports.

"It's always a tough city because they've been so passionate about their team," Payton said. "The key to playing on the road is being able to focus on the task at hand and eliminating distractions and dealing with the crowd noise, which we worked on today. This place gets loud. It's a tremendous challenge."

 

Lineman tryouts

The Saints updated their ready list yesterday, working out a pair of free-agent offensive tackles, Damion McIntosh (6-4, 320 pounds) and Wesley Britt (6-8, 320).

Payton gave no indication how serious the team is in signing either player, saying only that neither would figure into Sunday's game plan.

McIntosh, 32, recently worked out for the Seattle Seahawks. He started 31 games the past two seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs. He has started 115 career games in nine NFL seasons, including previous stints with the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers.

Britt, 28, played at Alabama. He was selected in the fifth round of the 2005 draft by the San Diego Chargers and was cut in training camp. In September 2005, he joined the Patriots' practice squad and has played sparingly for them the past three seasons as a reserve tackle, tight end and on special teams until his release Sept. 5.

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