NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Count former Tennessee Titans president Jeff Diamond among those who feel it is a good thing for Gregg Williams to return to the team’s coaching staff.
Indefinitely suspended last year by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his role in the New Orleans Saints’ “Bountygate” case while defensive coordinator from 2009-11, Williams now can return to coaching in the league only after a team expresses interest and the league reinstates him.
Multiple reports citing unnamed sources say Williams and Titans head coach Mike Munchak have discussed and finalized his return to the Titans’ coaching staff, where Williams worked from 1990-2000, including the last four seasons as defensive coordinator before becoming head coach of the Buffalo Bills in 2001.
A Titans official said Sunday that Munchak was not available for comment. The two-year Titans coach has not spoken to local media since the end of Tennessee’s disappointing 6-10 season.
“I think hiring Gregg can be a positive,” said Diamond, the former NFL Executive of the Year and Titans president from 1999-2004, the first season of which the Titans went to the Super Bowl. He worked two seasons with Williams.
“First off, Gregg has learned his lesson,” Diamond added, “so there will be no more issues there. He has paid his penalty.”
Williams was suspended for the 2012 season after the NFL determined he was the leader of a bounty system among players for their deeds on the field. The bounty total was determined to have been as much as $50,000 at times.
The NFL recently reinstated Saints head coach Sean Payton after he served a one-season suspension.
Heading into the 2012 season, Williams had been hired as defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams under head coach Jeff Fisher, his former boss with the Houston Oilers and Titans. Williams’ hiring by the Rams came before the NFL announced its investigation into Bountygate. Fisher has since replaced Williams with former Dallas Cowboys coordinator Rob Ryan.
Williams parlayed the success of the Titans’ defense under his tutelage into becoming known as one of the league’s best defensive minds. After three seasons as head coach of the Bills, he was defensive coordinator with Washington and Jacksonville before moving to New Orleans.
“Gregg is a very good and successful football coach,” Diamond said. “He can add knowledge and experience to that coaching staff. It is a smart move.”
Brad Hopkins — a 13-year Pro Bowl offensive lineman with the Oilers and Titans — is in agreement with Diamond. Hopkins played alongside Munchak, the Pro Football Hall of Famer, as a teammate before being coached by him as position coach.
“I think that it is fabulous,” Hopkins said. “If you are worried about him getting the franchise in trouble, that’s silly. The guy is coming off an investigation that will make sure he will never do anything like that again.
“From there, what’s left? It’s Gregg Williams, the coach, and that’s all the things that made him a great coach. He motivates players and understands and coaches his schemes. His body of work is so extensive.”
Currently, there are no openings on the Titans’ defensive coaching staff. Jerry Gray remains defensive coordinator after his unit gave up the most points in franchise history last season. When Williams became head coach of the Bills, he named Gray his defensive coordinator.
“Gregg will be able work great with Jerry,” Diamond said. “They have a lot of time coaching together.”
There was one defensive coaching staff change. The team fired linebackers coach Frank Bush and replaced him with Chet Parlavecchio, who was promoted from special teams assistant.
While commenting two weeks ago through a team release on all the coaching staff changes, including firing offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and promoting Dowell Loggains from quarterbacks coach, Munchak hinted there might be more coaching changes to come.
“We still have some spots remaining to fill,” said Munchak, who worked alongside Williams on former head coach Jeff Fisher’s staff as offensive line coach. “And I am always looking to improve our staff. So, it is still a work in progress.”
Diamond figures the professional and personal relationship between Munchak, Gray and Williams in the Fisher coaching tree was key in any decision to hire Williams.
“Everybody is trying to turn the page, especially Gregg,” Diamond said.