NEW YORK -- A good share of Tennessee Titans devotees latched on to Gregg Williams in 2013.
The team’s senior assistant/defense helped change Tennessee’s defense for the better.
But the degree of public support for Williams as a defensive coordinator candidate once Mike Munchak was fired surprised me.
Now Williams is heading back to St. Louis for the reunion with Jeff Fisher that was slated for 2012, before Williams was sidetracked by his Bountygate suspension.
In the meantime, the Titans have fresh defensive leadership in Ray Horton.
And Horton has the one big quality people like so much in Williams: Swagger.
He was formally introduced by the Titans on Wednesday and visited with us on the Midday 180, too.
He said he’s excited to be reunited with Ken Whisenhunt, who he called “a dynamic, proven, play-calling, winning coach” and he told us something I suspect will become a sound byte with staying power: “We’re going to get the damn job done.”
He likes the speed and effort he’s seen on tape from the 2013 defense, and said it’s the staff’s job to turn those things into wins.
“I want my players to be very disciplined, to be in the right place at the right time, and never, never, never let your teammates down,” he said. “...You better have good technique, you better be fundamentally sound, you better know how to take care of your responsibility.”
Horton’s played in and coached in a total of five Super Bowls.
He’s won three times -- Super Bowl XXVII as a player for Dallas, and Super Bowls XL and XLIII as a coach with Pittsburgh. But it’s the two losses he was part of that he says are most memorable.
He lists Super Bowl XXIII when San Francisco’s John Taylor caught the game-winning touchdown against his Bengals, and the Green Bay Packers win in Dallas against Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV.
“I remember the losses not the wins,” he said. “The wins are easy. You just take your hardware, your ring, you go home and you wear it ... The losses, they haunt you.”
We were on Radio Row at the Super Bowl and Horton was in Nashville when we spoke.
“I truly believe this with all my heart,” he said. “What players want is to be where you guys are right now. The first week of February, they want to be in that city where you guys are.”
By Friday night, Horton will have watched every snap of every player.
Next week he and the staff will begin to discuss how to maximize what they have, accentuating strengths, hiding weaknesses and determining needs.
Fans should be energized by the reviews Whisenhunt has received for getting Horton, and about what Horton has said so far.
I anticipate that while fans will remember Williams’ contribution fondly, they will be quite happy with the man who got the job.