In the final few games of this past season, I spent a lot of time praising Jerry Gray. The Green Bay Packers former Defensive Backs coach was a favorite in the locker room. Many actually believed if Joe Barry were not to return in 2023, Gray could’ve been his replacement. But now that he’s left to become Assistant Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons, it creates a hole in the Packers coaching staff. That will hopefully be filled by newly hired Corner Backs coach, Greg Williams.
Williams comes to the Packers by way of the Arizona Cardinals where he spent the last four seasons as Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph’s right-hand man as he coached cornerbacks as well. Before that, Williams held the same position for the Denver Broncos in 2018, as well as the Indianapolis Colts from 2016-17. Looking even further back at different positions, Williams served on John Pagano’s staff with the Chargers since 2009 before being plucked by John’s brother Chuck Pagano for the Colts.
He served stints as a Linebackers coach, as well as Assistant Secondary coach. He has no previous connection to Matt LaFleur. However, coincidentally, he coached alongside Joe Barry as LB’s coach in San Diego. So, you might be able to take a guess at who may have suggested Williams for the job.
I know where many people are going to look. Yes, the Cardinals secondary hasn’t exactly ranked high during Williams’ tenure. If you look at many lists, the Cardinals secondary will be shown as a mid to lower-20s.
However, that can possibly be attributed to personnel. In the past few years, the Cardinals have often had 1-2 great defensive backs but then a significant drop-off after that during Williams’ tenure. The Packers personnel boasts much better options than Williams had in Arizona, so there’s hope that he will have much better success in Green Bay.
Previously mentioned, the Packers are having to replace a great locker room presence. The Packers secondary undoubtedly had a lot of respect for Jerry Gray. How can you possibly replace someone of that stature?
Of course, it’s unknown whether or not he will fit this mold in Green Bay. But Greg Williams was very well-liked by DBs in Arizona. These are guys the likes of Patrick Peterson and Budda Baker who have had multiple All-Pro seasons.
It’s been said on many occasions, that sometimes the best coaches aren’t even the best football minds, but the ones that command the respect of those around them. When I’ve boasted about Jerry Gray, it was often a debate of whether it was his players having the respect they have for him to listen when he talks and go execute, or true X’s and O’s. I think with Gray, it was respect. Hopefully Greg Williams can command this respect amongst the Packers DB’s and get the best performance out of them possible.
Perhaps the only red on Greg Williams’ ledger for me personally is that he was DB’s coach with the Cardinals when they let Rasul Douglas walk. Was it truly a blunder on Williams’ behalf? Or did Douglas use his misfortune to turn his career around? We might never know. But until proven otherwise, I’ll choose to think perhaps the decision to release Douglas wasn’t on Williams at all.
Regardless of the comments above on this hire, I think it’s a good one. Greg Williams has a lot of experience in the realm and to come sought after by some pretty good NFL names is of course a bonus.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of Williams’ coaching is that he is a press-man coach. I want our DB’s to be in your face. Corners mugging receivers off the snap much like the days of Charles Woodson and Al Harris. Jaire Alexander would likely be a perfect corner for that job, perhaps Eric Stokes as well. Packers fans have very much grown tired of corners lined up 5-10 yards off a receiver. We want them on top of that receiver telling them that they are going nowhere without a fight.
Hopefully this philosophy and the respect of our DB’s makes for a great tenure in Green Bay for Greg Williams, I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.
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