If Gregg Williams manages to live halfway up to the introduction he got Friday, the Buffalo Bills will have a good head coach on their hands.
Based on the take of Bills President Tom Donahoe, it now can be said Williams did not just ace his interview for the Buffalo job. He royal flushed it.
"I've been through this process two different times in my career and the last time was in 1992 when we hired Bill Cowher," Donahoe said. "At that time in Pittsburgh we interviewed Mike Holmgren, Bobby Ross, Dennis Green, Dave Wannstedt, Kevin Gilbride and Joe Greene. All of them but Joe Greene became head coaches."
"Of all the people I interviewed then and the people I interviewed most recently, this was the best candidate I ever interviewed," Donahoe said. "He deserves this job, and he deserves this opportunity. He's a leader, he has great people skills, he's a football junkie, he loves the game. . . . I think he's going to be a fantastic coach in this league."
The 42-year-old Williams followed that glowing tribute with a strong public relations performance in his introductory news conference at the Bills' training complex. He flashed some wit, he was assertive, he was articulate, he had the right amount of humility and he offered a fair amount of substance, such as:
He virtually confirmed that Jerry Gray will be his defensive coordinator. Gray, 38, has been a defensive assistant with Williams at Tennessee the past four years and was a star cornerback in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams.
"Jerry Gray is a five-time pro Bowler and one-time MVP of the Pro Bowl, who's a secondary coach and is ready to be the coordinator," Williams said. "I feel extremely confident in him. I think at some point in time you will see him standing up here in front of you one of these days as a head coach in the NFL. I feel that strongly about him."
Williams also said Titans defensive quality control aide Ronnie Vinklarek would be an offensive assistant coach. Vinklarek, 42, has been an offensive line coach much of his career.
Williams said he intends to run a "West Coast-style offense with a power running game." The West Coast offense emphasizes three-step dropbacks by the quarterback and quick passes.
He confirmed that he plans to speak with Kevin Gilbride about being the offensive coordinator. However, it's known that Williams also has other candidates for offensive coordinator, as well. It would be premature to call Gilbride the favorite for the job.
Gilbride is former head coach in San Diego and just got fired as offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh. He coached Rob Johnson in Jacksonville.
"Kevin is a coach we are going to talk to," Williams said. "He's a person who obviously has had very good success in the National Football League as a quarterback coach and a coordinator. I've worked with him side by side. He tried to take me to San Diego when he went there, and I guess I made the right decision." , Williams said he would like to have his coaching staff "as close to done as I can by the combine." The NFL scouting combine workouts start Feb. 22.
"We're going to delve into the college ranks and the pro ranks," Williams said. "The National Football League has evolved to being very similar to the Division I college football programs. Guys are only here for four or five years, and you have the potential of rolling the team over, 25- 28- 30-percent every year. So you've got to be able to play young players and you've got to have great teachers."
"In the databank I have of coaches, we're going to go into the college ranks and we're going to go into the NFL and we're going to go into the Canadian League," he said. "We're going to bring those coaches we believe are the best teachers."
He would not rule out hiring one of the leftover coaches from Wade Phillips' staff.
"There'll be some discussions with some of those guys and some possibilities," he said.
Williams did not directly answer the question of whether he would run the 4-3 defense or keep the Bills' 3-4 scheme. He said he would do what fits the personnel best but emphasized he employed numerous schemes with his No. 1-ranked defense in Tennessee.
"We carry 13 packages of defense. You want to play a 3-3, a 3-4, a 4-2, a 4-1, a 3-2, we bring it all. We talked about this, and Tom was extremely thorough on that in the interview: Are you a systems coach or are you a personnel coach?
"The guys who show up at training camp are the ones we're going to coach, and they're going to be better after we're done coaching them. That's my confidence level. We have a very flexible system defensively, with 3-4 principles, with 4-3 principles."
Williams said he ran the attacking "46" defense (with eight men near the line) 16 percent to 18 percent of the time.
He had the good sense to stress the importance of special teams. Asked about 20 minutes into his talk if he would play numerous veterans on special teams units, Williams replied, "I'm shocked it took that long for someone to ask that question."
"Understand this, we don't have 126 guys on the sideline," he said. "Past those three quarterbacks, everybody else better get ready to play some special teams.
"The core units of punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return - you're going to see the best guys out there. . . . This isn't a commercial break. This isn't just a time in between offense and defense. We're gonna get ready to make a difference making plays."
Williams reiterated the story of how the Titans practiced their Home Run Throwback play every Saturday the entire '99 season before springing it on the Bills last year.
"I won't talk about the throwback if you won't talk about the comeback," he said in reference to the 32-point comeback the Bills pulled on his Oilers team in '93.
Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. came to the podium for a few remarks.
"I do have one question," Wilson said. "Was it a forward pass, Gregg?"
"As of today, my thinking is it was a forward pass," the Bills' new coach said.