Entering his 29th season coaching in the NFL and 18th as a defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams has rattled cages of offensive coordinators and quarterbacks throughout his career. A brilliant teacher, Williams creatively has found ways to not only employ his personnel but reach them through various motivational techniques. Williams is not one to get rattled himself, though, and he remains confident despite the Jets moving on without a pair of Pro Bowl talents in safety Jamal Adams, who was traded to Seattle, and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, who opted out of the 2020 season due to family reasons.
"We went through a lot of that defensively here last year and the next man up and how we adapt to those things," Williams said. "The focus and the energy right now is on that and on those things. The energy is outstanding and the attention to detail is outstanding. We have to stay healthy and that's every team — that's not just this team."
While the Green & White were minus Mosley for 14 games last season, Adams was voted the Team's MVP in both 2018 in '19. With Adams frequently lining up in the box and Marcus Maye handling post-safety responsibilities last fall, Williams used the former as a pass rusher on many occasions and Adams racked up 6.5 sacks.
"We'll still do a lot of the same exact things, but we'll highlight the people we have here," Williams said. "As you saw what we did there was he (Adams) had maybe his most productive year here because of how we highlighted the skill set that he has. I've had a lot of really, really good guys at that position. Over the years, I've had a lot of really good safeties to be able to build things around. Now it's the next man up."
The Jets will be different without Adams, but they still like what they have at the safety position. Maye will be joined in the meeting room by former Seahawks DB Bradley McDougald, a veteran who has started 75 career games and has 10 interceptions and was part of the return package in exchange for Adams.
"I love those kind of guys… He carries himself with a really nice healthy chip on his shoulders," Williams said of the former undrafted free agent. "He's intelligent, he works extremely hard."
The Jets also have rookie safety Ashtyn Davis, a third-round pick out of California who brings speed, quality ball skills and versatility to the mix as well.
"There's another guy that has had to prove himself and I love the fact that he had to walk-on and he had to do everything he could just to get a scholarship and get some time at the college level to play," Williams said of the 6'0", 207-pounder who had 19 pass defenses and 7 interceptions in 49 collegiate games. "He's done very well in everything that we've seen.
"He's going to have to slow down mentally and that's what happens when any young guy comes into our league," added Williams. "This league is not you just do a couple of things and let them go. We have to do more than that to be able to mask some of the deficiencies to post some more problems to the opponent's offense in matchups there, but he's a sharp guy. He's very sharp mentally. He's extremely hard-working and he has a very good skill set."
Using veteran corner Brian Poole as an example, Williams talked about his philosophy with any defender. Poole played a multitude of roles for the Jets in 2019 and Williams is not going to limit the safety competition to just Maye, McDougald and Davis.
"Not a lot of people understand what he's able to do from playing outside corner, inside corner, inside safety and he even played a linebacker position," he said of Poole. "All those three guys are in the hunt, but there are several other ones, too, that are in the hunt. Last man standing, next man up, however we can do it the best way — we will do that."
Under Williams, the Jets will continue to be ready for both long-term and short-term changes. After leading the Jets to a No. 7 overall defensive ranking almost entirely without Mosley, Williams has more than a month of camp to transition without Adams. The Jets defensive coordinator is ready to resume the rattling.
"We have 42 packages of defense throughout the years that we've done. We have 42 ways to add up to 11," he said. "Here we only have 16-17 things that we're doing with this personnel package, a few of the multiple safety packages are up and ready to go. We'll see how that goes by their performance levels of what they can handle."