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Fisher: 'Collective effort' expected to replace Williams

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Posted March 21, 2012 @ 5:25 p.m. ET
By PFW staff

Updated 5:25 p.m. ET

Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday afternoon that he anticipated seeking a group effort to replace defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was suspended indefinitely earlier in the day for his part in the Saints' bounty scandal.

"I am not going to name a defensive coordinator," said Fisher. "We've got three former coordinators in the building (Fisher, assistant head coach Dave McGinnis and DB coach Chuck Cecil), and most likely we will depend on a collective effort."

Fisher told the local media that he had wanted to discuss Williams' situation for a long time but was unable to do so until an official penalty was levied.

"Greg is a proven, very talented and successful coach who made a mistake," Fisher said. "He is remorseful and has accepted the consequences. He will be eligible for reinstatement when the season is over. We hope Gregg can move on and learn from this experience and do the things he needs to do to be reinstated."

Fisher said he personally informed Williams of the league's decision on his status earlier today.

Later on Wednesday, Williams released a statement of his own.

"I'd like to again apologize wholeheartedly to the NFL, Coach Fisher, the entire Rams organization and all football fans for my actions," Williams said. "Furthermore, I apologize to the players of the NFL for my involvement as it is not a true reflection of my values as a father or coach, nor is it reflective of the great respect I have for this game and its core principle of sportsmanship. I accept full responsibility for my actions.

"I highly value the 23 years that I've spent in the NFL. I will continue to cooperate fully with the league and its investigation and I will focus my energies on serving as an advocate for both player safety and sportsmanship. I will do everything possible to re-earn the respect of my colleagues, the NFL and its players in hopes of returning to coaching in the future."

The way we see it

Although McGinnis, who previously coordinated the Cardinals for five seasons, had been prominently mentioned as the most likely replacement for Williams, it is not a big surprise that Fisher has opted for a group effort to oversee a defense that left a great deal to be desired last season, especially against the run. It's also no surprise at all that Fisher plans to stand by Williams, one of his best friends in the business, and welcome Williams back with open arms at whatever point he is reinstated. Fisher also strongly suggested that his personal involvement in running the defense could be considerable. "You should know that Gregg's playbook actually originated in my office," he said.

Concerns that the Rams' defense might perform tentatively in the wake of the harsh "Bountygate" penalties have been alleviated somewhat by the free-agent signing of ex-Titans CB Cortland Finnegan, whose penchant for playing with a physical edge that occasionally bends the rules has been well-documented.

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